Five Quick Winter Getaways from Sacramento
December 20, 2019

Five Quick Winter Getaways from Sacramento

Winter is upon us, and contrary to what some sun-worshippers might say, there’s no need to hibernate under a blanket until springtime. Sacramento is within driving distance to some of the best winter destinations in the state. But you don’t have to battle the crowds and the traffic to have a great winter getaway. There are many under-the-radar locations that offer plenty of things to do, wonderful places to stay and great restaurants and bars. Whether you’re pining for snow or sand, we have suggestions from the mountains to the sea. Following are our suggestions for five quick winter getaways from Sacramento.

Arnold


Bear Valley photo courtesy Nichole Ver/Calaveras CVB

What to do
The quaint Calaveras County town of Arnold is the ideal winter getaway for snow lovers. It’s home to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, which has guided snowshoe hikes in the winter. Arnold is also close to Bear Valley Resort, which has skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snow play. You can also rent snowmobiles and explore the backcountry trails.

Where to stay
For true mountain luxury, book a room at the Black Bear Inn, which has an onsite restaurant and relaxing hot tub. The Mountain Retreat Resort has duplex-style suites, a game room and an indoor pool. For those looking for something a bit more rustic, Calaveras Big Trees has four furnished rental cabins (yes, they are heated!)

What to eat & drink
After a long day on the slopes, you’ll want to fill up with a warm and hearty meal. Luckily, there are plenty of options in Arnold. Sarafina’s Italian Kitchen serves traditional Italian cuisine such as house-made ravioli and risotto, while Dogwood Seasonal Cuisine specializes in steak and seafood. For casual sandwiches and pizza, try Snowshoe Brewing Company, known for its ales and stouts. Wine drinkers, take note: Arnold is just down the road from the renowned tasting rooms of Murphys.

Bodega Bay

The Pacific Ocean from Bodega Head

What to do
Winter on the Northern California coast happens to be the best time to spot migrating gray whales. The whales begin their journey in the Arctic, making their way south to breed and birth their young before returning home. One of the best places to spot gray whales is windswept Bodega Head, where volunteer docents help visitors spot the majestic animals and provide education on their epic journey. There are miles of hiking trails around the area with breathtaking ocean views. The Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail is a mellow loop along a saltwater marsh that’s a year-round habitat for water birds. You can also walk along popular Doran Beach, visit tide pools and paddle in the calm water.

Where to stay
Bodega Bay has many lodging options to suit any taste and budget. Bodega Bay Lodge has suites with fireplaces, balconies and ocean views, while the Bodega Harbor Inn has basic rooms and cottages. There are also plenty of rental houses throughout the area.

What to eat & drink
Seafood is the name of the game in Bodega Bay, and you’ll find everything from hole-in-the-wall oyster joints to refined farm-to-table restaurants. The old standby is the Tides Wharf Restaurant, which serves clam chowder and crab cakes in its waterfront dining room. Terrapin Creek Café is a bit more upscale, with dishes such as yellowtail crudo and pan-roasted Hokkaido scallops. Wine lovers will find plenty of options in Bodega Bay as well; after all, this is Sonoma County. Gourmet Au Bay serves flights and small plates, and Sonoma Coast Vineyards has a large tasting room

Half Moon Bay

Photo courtesy Jonathan Gross via Flickr

What to do
Another good bet for a coastal getaway is Half Moon Bay. Just 30 miles south of San Francisco, this oceanside town is especially popular in winter, when crab season is at its peak. You can visit the bustling docks at Pillar Point Harbor and even rent gear to try to catch crabs on your own. Just outside the harbor are the world-famous Mavericks, some of the biggest waves in the world and a popular surfing spot for locals and visitors alike. You can also hike along coastal trails, explore tidepools and browse the shops of quaint downtown.

Where to stay
Swanky water-view lodging abounds in Half Moon Bay, and for the best of the best, splurge on the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. The bluff-top resort has luxurious suites, a golf course and day spa. Half Moon Bay Lodge is a bit more understated, but still offers upscale rooms, wood-burning fireplaces and a heated pool. For an elegant B&B experience, stay at the Mill Rose Inn, with verdant gardens and Victorian antiques.

What to eat & drink
For a quintessential coastal meal, head to Sam’s Chowder House. Here, you can load up on lobster rolls or cioppino or go all out for the lobster clambake while watching the sunset. The Flying Fish Grill has fried goodies like calamari and prawns, as well as seafood tacos and salads. If you prefer hops with your meals, visit Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, which serves Kolsch and Saison alongside chowder and burgers. There are also a few wine tasting rooms in Half Moon Bay, including La Nebbia, known for its Riesling and Zinfandel.

Downieville

Photo courtesy Jonathan Kibrick/Sierra County Chamber of Commerce

What to do
Snowmobiling. Snowshoeing. Skiing. Sipping hot chocolate by the fire. Whatever your alpine fantasy, the Downieville area has you covered. Located on the North Fork of the Yuba River just two hours from Sacramento, this Gold Rush town is known for its abundant outdoor activities. In winter, visitors can hit the snow-covered trails in the nearby Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The Yuba Pass Sno-Park is also nearby for those who prefer tubing and sledding. Off the trails, you can learn about the town’s gold-fueled origins at the Downieville Museum.

Where to stay
Downieville is a small historic town, but there are several places to stay during a winter getaway. The Carriage House Inn is located right on the Downie River in the center of town, and offers quaint rooms and continental breakfast. The Lure Resort has cottages and cabins on 14 acres along the North Yuba.

What to eat & drink
If you’ve worked up an appetite after a day on the trails, head to Two Rivers Café, an unassuming eatery that serves pizza and sandwiches. They also have a decent selection of craft beers on tap. Craving Mexican? Check out La Cucina De Oro, which serves traditional dishes such as burritos, enchiladas and tacos. For a cold beer or cocktail, pay a visit to St. Charles Place, a no-frills bar popular with the locals.

Alameda

Photo courtesy Panegyrics of Granovetter via Flickr

What to do
In the shadow of its neighbor across the bay, Alameda is an often-overlooked travel destination. But this up-and-coming city has plenty to see and do, and makes a great winter getaway from Sacramento. The most well-known attraction in Alameda is the USS Hornet, a World War II aircraft carrier that is now a museum. Crown Memorial State Beach has a visitors center, aquarium, walking trails and views of the San Francisco skyline. The newest draw in Alameda is Spirits Alley, a cluster of artisan distilleries, breweries and wineries along the waterfront.

Where to stay
There aren’t many hotels on Alameda Island proper, so your best bet will be a rental through Airbnb or VRBO. Another option is to pop across the bridge to Oakland. The Waterfront Hotel is a boutique property on Jack London Square, while the nearby Z Hotel has sleek, modern design just steps from the water.

What to eat & drink
Alameda has a diverse dining scene, with cuisine ranging from Moroccan to Cambodian to German. For California and Italian fare in an inviting and open setting, head to Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails. Another good bet is Burma Superstar, a longstanding Bay Area favorite for traditional Burmese; while seasonal, local cuisine is the name of the game at Pappo. Along Spirit Alley, you can sip Zinfandel or Chardonnay at Rock Wall Wine Company, see how gin is distilled at St. George Spirits, or take a cocktail making class at Hangar 1 Distillery.

*Featured photo courtesy Michelle Burr/Sierra County Chamber of Commerce

Category Local Events

Elizabeth Penney

Lyon Real Estate is the leading independent real estate brokerage company in Greater Sacramento (Sacramento Business Journal). We are proud to be homegrown, locally owned and internationally known. Lyon has served the area for over 70 years. The company is a member of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, the largest network of premier locally-branded firms, as well as LeadingRE’s Luxury Portfolio International® program. For more information about Lyon Real Estate, click to GoLyon.com and follow us on Facebook.com/LyonRealEstate.

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