5 Wonderful Winter Day Trips Within 2 Hours of Sacramento

Three Lake Tahoe cabins covered in winter snow.

5 Wonderful Winter Day Trips Within 2 Hours of Sacramento

December 27, 2022 | By The Railyards

In Sacramento, you're just a short drive away from winter rain showers along the coast or snow flurries in the mountains. Whether you're looking to stroll through a museum or hit the slopes, there's plenty of fun to be had. If you're looking for adventure this season try a winter day trip to one of these 5 beautiful Northern California destinations.

San Francisco - 1 ½ Hours from Sacramento

San Francisco is just a quick drive from Sacramento, making it a perfect family-friendly winter day trip. For a more picturesque trip grab a train to SF from the Sacramento Valley Station.

Spend a winter afternoon by the bay by catching a show at the theater or exploring a local museum. Enjoy exploring the California Academy of Sciences where you can see Claude the albino alligator or the towering skeletons of a T. rex and a blue whale. You can also experience the interactive exhibits at the Exploratorium, catch a theater performance, or grab tickets to a Golden State Warriors game.

Bodega Bay - 2 Hours from Sacramento

In wintertime gray whales make their seasonal journey south to Baja California. This time of year, keen-eyed whale watchers can often spot them in regions such as Bodega Bay. The Bodega Head peninsula juts out about 5 miles into the Pacific, making it a prime spot for whale watching - don't forget to bring your binoculars!

After an afternoon of whale watching, head back to Bodega Bay to enjoy a bowl of the area's famous clam chowder and stroll through the art salons and shops. You can even enjoy a meal at the Tides Wharf Restaurant made famous by Hitchcock's film "The Birds."

The rocky shore at Bodega Bay

Lake Tahoe - 2 Hours from Sacramento

The season's snowfall transforms the slopes of Lake Tahoe into a winter wonderland. There's plenty of cold-weather fun to be had in Tahoe for the adventurous type.

There are winter activities for every budget and taste. Grab a lift ticket to one of Tahoe's 11 downhill resorts and hit the slopes, or take a snowshoeing tour. Or, enjoy a day of tubing or sledding for something a bit more low-key. Are you looking to get out of the cold? Try your luck at Tahoe's casinos.

Don't forget to check to see if any chain control requirements are in place before heading into the mountains for the day.

Russian River Valley - 2 Hours From Sacramento

Winter is the perfect time of year to take a drive through wine country. Avoid the Napa crowds by heading to the more laid-back Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. Cozy up next to the fire with one of the Pinot Noirs that the area is known for.

As you enjoy your drive through Sonoma County, look out for colorful cover crops blooming in the vineyard. Wineries plant cover crops between the rows or under the vines to help avoid erosion, aerate the soil, and add nitrogen to the earth. In the Russian River Valley, mustard is one of the most eye-catching cover crops. It starts blooming in late January and early February, offering a stunning display of gold throughout the vines.

Grape vines in the California Wine Country

Truckee - 2 Hours from Sacramento

Just two hours outside of Sacramento, Truckee is a perfect day trip if you're looking for winter outdoor sports or a taste of California's history. Truckee was once the site of a lumber mill, stagecoach stop, and railroad station. The town became a winter sports hotspot in 1875 and in 1960 was the site of the Winter Olympics. Stroll historic Downtown Truckee to take in the history, or pop into the Railroad Museum and Old Jailhouse Museum to learn more. When you're done, eat at one of the town's two restaurants to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri – Jax at the Tracks and Burger Me.

Looking for a little more adventure? Truckee also offers excellent snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing.

Searching for other winter-time experiences near Sacramento? Discover local events and nearby destinations with the Railyards. Read more.

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