Mount Shasta. Photo © Chrisboswell/Dreamstime.

Classic Northern California Road Trips: Mounts Shasta and Lassen

These northern peaks and parklands are some of the state’s most spectacular and least visited. Mount Shasta is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts year-round. You can hike or climb to the summit in the summer and ski down its slopes in winter. Shasta Lake, by contrast, is best in summer, when boating, fishing, and waterskiing can fully be enjoyed. Because of its high elevation and rocky terrain, Mount Lassen’s roads are closed late fall-spring, making it a mid- to late-summer destination.

Craggy rocks rise up along a smooth sandy beach as waves wash up on shore.

The Best California Beaches

From wide, golden beaches with abundant sunshine to boardwalks crowded with kids, cotton candy, and roller coasters, California has any kind of beach you could possibly want. Author Stuart Thornton shares a helpful overview of some of the state’s best options for sun, sand, and surf.

California Poppies. Photo © Biolifepics/Dreamstime.

When to Visit Northern California

Dense in urban culture, awash in vineyards, and with some of the most scenic landscapes in the world, Northern California is a multi-faceted gem. Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, and San Francisco are among the top 10 on most travelers’ bucket lists. Best about northern California is its all-season appeal–from summer sun to winter fun, the best time to go to northern California is now.

Lake Shasta. Photo © Maislam/Dreamstime.

What to See at Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake doesn’t look like most lakes. Rather than a bowl shape, the lake is fed by three major rivers; to create this sprawling artificial lake, five towns were drowned. The remains are still down there, most sunk so deep that even scuba divers cannot explore them. A tour of the amazing Lake Shasta Caverns is a welcome respite from summer heat, and even if you’re not fascinated by engineering statistics and superlatives, a tour of the Shasta Dam is a great experience.

Downtown Oakland skyline. Photo © Eric Broder Van Dyke/123rf.

Things to Do in Oakland

Oakland is the biggest city in the East Bay. Although its reputation hasn’t always been perfect (travelers should probably stay in the popular visitor areas), today a great deal of downtown urban renewal has made it a visitor-friendly place with plenty of attractions, accommodations, and exceptional food. For interactive fun, a truly exceptional museum, and outdoor activities, check out these locations.

Mount Shasta. Photo © Christopher Arns.

Northern California Getaway: Mounts Shasta and Lassen

The mountains in the far northern reaches of California are some of the most unspoiled areas in the state, protected by a wealth of national and state parks and forestlands. The most prominent features of this region are two iconic mountains: Shasta and Lassen. Both mountains make great vacation destinations, beautiful to behold and surrounded by recreation opportunities, or a fabulous weekend getaway—particularly if you’ve got a three-day weekend.

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse. Photo © Jbatt/Dreamstime.

Where to Go in Northern California

If you can’t decide between the beach or the mountains, city nightlife or quaint historical towns, and sleeping in luxury or roughing it, then Northern California is your ultimate destination. Here you’ll find a breakdown of each distinct region in the area, highlighting their major draws and general personalities.

cover Moon Northern California Hiking 2ed.

Moon Northern California Hiking

Seasoned outdoors authors Tom Stienstra and Ann Marie Brown know the best hiking trails in Northern California. This brand-new guidebook leads beginner and expert hikers alike to the best trails the northern part of the state has to offer. Complete with detailed regional maps, hiking tips, difficulty and quality ratings for each hike, Moon Northern […]

cover Moon Northern California 7ed.

Moon Northern California

This full-color guide includes vibrant photos and easy-to-use maps to help with trip planning. Northern California residents Elizabeth Linhart Veneman and Christopher Arns cover the best that Northern California has to offer, from day hikes in awe-inspiring Yosemite Valley to rest and relaxation at the spas and vineyards of Wine Country. To help travelers plan […]