Northern California has some of the best playgrounds for grownups in the world. Kids can come and play too—in fact, kids enjoy watching their parents and other adults cutting loose and having a seriously great time. Whatever your age, Northern California’s vast attractions will bring out your sense of wonder and adventure.
The Northern California art scene is the stuff of story and song—literally—and San Francisco’s performing arts  are the best in the state. Get tickets to the San Francisco Opera , Ballet, or Symphony  for stellar productions. Check out one of the cool blues clubs, like the Boom Boom Room , or head down to the Castro  to take in a gay-themed play at Theatre Rhino . For visual and cultural arts, the galleries at the de Young , Legion of Honor , and the Asian Art Museum don’t disappoint.
Still hungry for art? Drive up the coast to Mendocino, a longtime artists’ colony, where shops and studios sell the work of both locals and artists from around the world.
Is your inner child a thrill-seeking teenager? The opportunities for life- and limb-risking fun in California’s northern mountains are nearly limitless. Tahoe  offers wild, winter sports where you can snowboard a double-black diamond slope at Squaw Valley . Farther north, hike or rock-climb to the summit of Mount Shasta , an enormous dormant volcano. Those who prefer their volcanoes active can hike across the warm rocks of Mount Lassen .
The Gold Country offers more than just mining history. Explore the region from the water by signing up for a whitewater rafting trip on the South and Middle Fork American Rivers. For bigger waves, head south to Half Moon Bay  to surf the giant breaks at Mavericks . Or get lost on the Lost Coast by hiking the Lost Coast Trail. Prepare for three days of backpacking along gorgeous but rugged beaches.
Even if you don’t feel like dangling off a sheer cliff face or plummeting down a waterfall, Northern California has endless interactive attractions that let your inner child touch and taste or get wet, slimy, and dirty while experiencing the Golden State.
In San Francisco , hit the Exploratorium , and buy the extra ticket to take the tour of this legendary science museum’s Tactile Dome. Head south to Silicon Valley  to run around the Tech Museum of Innovation , touching the interactive displays about medical technology, computers, biology, chemistry, and physics.
Head north into Gold Country and scrabble through the old, rusted mining equipment in the abundant mining parks, touch the partially restored locomotives at Railtown 1897, or go underground at Mercer or Black Chasm Caverns. Another grubby caving experience awaits at Lake Shasta Caverns . Once there, you might as well dive into the Shasta Lake , or rent a boat for some wakeboarding or ski tubing.
To the northwest, book a deep-sea fishing trip on the Tally Ho II in fish-centric Crescent City. Driving back south, get covered in sawdust at the Blue Ox Millworks in Eureka. Finally, stop in Fort Bragg to comb Glass Beach and take home sea-worn chunks of glass thrown into the city landfill many decades ago.