7 Road Trips Within 5 Hours of Sacramento
One of Sacramento’s finest qualities is a central location amongst some of the state’s most monumental destinations. With the Bay Area and other coastal towns just two hours west and the wonders of Lake Tahoe and its majestic mountains two hours to the east, there are so many nearby road trip destinations worthy of your weekend plans.
We created a few must-dos in seven amazing places, ranging from quaint Gold Rush-era towns to major cities. Some are close and worthy of a quick day trip, while others require a packed bag and maybe even an extended weekend (or an entire week if you’re lucky!). Travel to one of these enchanting destinations and experience all that our region has to offer!
1. Sutter Creek
Driving Time: 1 Hour
Where to Stay: Hanford House Inn
You may immediately think of Napa Valley wineries when you start planning a wine sipping adventure in Northern California. And for good reason! However, you may not realize that another impeccable collection of wineries lies even closer to home in Amador County along the Shenandoah Valley. Make the quaint town of Sutter Creek your home base as you take a tour of the area’s 40+ boutique wineries and tasting rooms showcasing award-winning Zinfandels, Barberas and Rhones. Stop by the visitor center to get acquainted with the area, then take a drive through rustic vistas lined with gorgeous vineyards
Driving Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Where to Stay: Indian Springs Resort
Visiting Napa Valley can be an overwhelming experience because it’s a large region saturated with a plethora of wineries, vineyards, attractions and glorious hotels. Make this large area a little smaller by settling down in the quiet town of Calistoga for a weekend filled with relaxation, charm, natural beauty and of course, lots of wine. Indian Springs Resort is an incredible hot springs resort located in town with a number of rejuvenating pools, including an Olympic-sized mineral pool.
Explore the enchanting main street of Calistoga with a variety of eateries and shops, then visit some of the area’s best wineries scattered throughout this renowned wine region! Better yet, get an overview of Napa Valley’s breathtaking vistas with a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train, a 36-mile round-trip journey passing by dozens of famous and historic wineries. Take a look at our guide to Napa Valley day trips, catering to the outdoorsman, foodie, beauty beholder, and art and music lover.
3. San Francisco
Driving Time: 2 Hours, 5 Minutes
Where to Stay: Hotel Vitale
San Francisco is an obvious destination choice when planning a trip from Sacramento. It’s close enough for a day trip, but worthy of an entire weekend (or longer!) because there is so much to do in this amazing city. Check into the chic and luxurious Hotel Vitale, located directly along the bay with breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then explore the myriad of activities, eateries, bars and shops in the city, making sure you don’t miss out on Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Square or Musée Mécanique.
Learn all about the Bay Area’s best attractions, events and other pieces of local insight by checking out McGuire Real Estate’s blog, where they cover everything from brunch spots to the best cocktail bars!
4. Incline Village, Nevada
Driving Time: 2 Hours, 20 Minutes
Where to Stay: Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort
You may imagine Lake Tahoe as the perfect winter getaway, but there is an entire wonderland of activity surrounding the lake during the summer — particularly along Sand Harbor on the eastern shore. Cross the state line into Nevada to reach Incline Village and nearby Sand Harbor, where you will discover gently sloping beaches, crystal-clear cobalt blue water, and unique rock formations. It is here where you can go swimming, kayaking, scuba diving, boating, water-skiing, fishing and more.
Each summer, the park is home to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Stay at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort in Incline Village just north of the harbor, where you can look out over the glistening Crystal Bay and recharge for an active day spent on the water or hiking through this beautiful region.
Driving Time: 3 Hours
Where to Stay: Hotel Pacific
Top right photo courtesy of Cannery Row
Monterey is an adorable beach town surrounding the picturesque Monterey Bay along the Pacific Coast. With a remarkable history, creative eateries and incredible attractions, Monterey Bay has been a popular international destination since the 1700s. Some of the most popular destinations include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row, a waterfront street lined with former sardine canning factories, the last of which closed in 1973.
Stay in the heart of local activity at Hotel Pacific, located just steps from Cannery Row, the wharf, and a myriad of restaurants, shops and other attractions.
6. Yosemite National Park
Driving Time: 3 Hours, 50 Minutes
Where to Stay: Majestic Yosemite Hotel
Dust off your hiking boots and explore the outdoors at Yosemite National Park, an expansive park covering an area of 747,956 acres stretching to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The park is internationally recognized for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, streams, giant sequoia trees, lakes, mountains and glaciers. During the summer, visitors flock to Yosemite Valley for some of the most breathtaking scenes and action-packed adventure.
If you only do one outing on a quick weekend trip at Yosemite National Park, make sure you visit Half Dome, the most well-known rock formation in the park. Get a good view of the granite dome at Tunnel View and Glacier Point, or lace up those boots for a strenuous yet rewarding hike to the top of Half Dome.
7. Morro Bay
Driving Time: 4 Hours, 30 Minutes
Where to Stay: 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites
Located just north of San Luis Obispo lies the quaint beach town of Morro Bay, known for the majestic and iconic Morro Rock, a volcanic rock emerging from the water offshore. With an exquisite beach with warm sugar sands and a lively collection of shops along Main Street, this hidden gem is well worth a visit. Plus, its proximity to San Luis Obispo puts even more attractions within reach during your stay at 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites situated along the water’s edge.
During your drive south to Morro Bay from Sacramento, make sure you stop at Hearst Castle about 30 miles north of the bay. Or simply plan a day around your visit to this historic castle and museum overlooking the Pacific.
Happy Road Tripping, Sacramento!
Let us know what adventures lie ahead for you this summer — and beyond. We’d love to know!