6 Picture-Perfect Winter Getaways from Sacramento + Cabin Rentals
Although summer is typically considered the biggest travel season, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Northern California during the winter months as well. The Lake Tahoe area is one of the most popular winter destinations in California any time of year, but especially in the winter when skiers and snowboarders come to play in its powdery white wonderland and families hit the hills for some tubing and sledding.
But Tahoe isn’t the only part of the state that’s worth exploring come winter. There are other beautiful spots in Northern California to check out this time of year as well. Best of all, you’ll have fewer crowds and lower prices than you would during peak travel times. So, whether you prefer the mountains or the coast, the sand or the snow, following are six picture-perfect winter getaway ideas from Sacramento, plus some amazing cabins available to rent.
Located two and a half hours from Sacramento, Graeagle is a historic town in the heart of Plumas County. Surrounded by pristine pine forests and scenic alpine lakes, it has a quaint, walkable downtown with shops and restaurants. If you’re into snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, check out the Plumas Ski Club, which has information on trails in Plumas-Eureka State Park and the Lakes Basin. If you’re here on the third Sunday of February or March, check out the historic longboard races at Johnsville Ski Bowl.
Where to Eat in Graeagle
Hungry? You can fuel up at one of the many restaurants in town, including Cuccia’s Italian restaurant and Graeagle Meadows Restaurant. Or, you can kick back with a glass of wine or a pint at The Peak or enjoy a craft brew at The Brewing Lair nearby.
Where to Stay in Graeagle
Of course, you’ll need a place to rest your head after a long day of exploration. One option is this luxury chalet in Graeagle, which features a fireplace, foosball, and gourmet kitchen. Best of all, it’s family- and pet-friendly! Or, you can book this beautiful mountain cabin, which has spectacular views of the surrounding forest.
The Napa Valley stretches for 30 miles from American Canyon in the south to Calistoga in the north. Along the way are picturesque towns, each with their own unique characteristics. One such town is St. Helena, which has a cute downtown with shops, galleries and restaurants. Of course, being in the heart of wine country means St. Helena also has plenty of tasting rooms, including Charles Krug, one of the oldest wineries in the region, and Clif Family Winery, which offers wine and food pairings.
Where to Eat in St. Helena
Like much of the Napa Valley, St. Helena is a culinary hamlet; in fact, the Culinary Institute of America is here and you can dine at the student-operated Gatehouse Restaurant. Another option is Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, a Michelin-rated eatery highlighting food grown and produced on their estate. For a casual bite, stop by Gott’s Roadside for burgers, fries and dogs.
Where to Stay in St. Helena
If you’d like to stay overnight in your very own farmhouse, this luxury home in St. Helena is for you. The barn-style home features stunning architecture and floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the outdoors in. There are views of the valley and vineyards, plus a fire pit to keep you toasty. If you’re looking for something in town, this historic St. Helena home, built in 1904, is within walking distance to the downtown area. It features original wood detailing, a wrap-around front porch and lush gardens.
There’s no shortage of stunning California coastline just a few hours from Sacramento. But one of the most underrated, and closest, is Moss Beach. Just 30 minutes south of San Francisco, Moss Beach is quieter than its closest neighbor, Half Moon Bay, yet there are plenty of things to do here. For starters, its namesake beach is a wind-swept stretch of sand beneath towering cliffs that offer panoramic views of the Pacific. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve offers a glimpse into sea life, with tidepools, ancient fossils, sea otters, and harbor seals. There are also hiking trails and opportunities for bird watching. Pillar Point Bluff is another highlight, with views of the world-famous Mavericks surf break and access to the California Coastal Trail.
Where to Eat in Moss Beach
Dining options are a bit limited in Moss Beach, but one of the most iconic spots is Moss Beach Distillery, a former speakeasy with killer views that now serves classic seafood dishes. They even have a heated, dog-friendly patio.
Where to Stay in Moss Beach
For overnight accommodations, consider this oceanfront retreat that has spectacular views of the waves below. It’s just steps to the beach and features an outdoor fireplace, hot tub, and even a putting green. If you’re looking for a family-friendly option, this contemporary home has an outdoor play zone and trampoline, plus bikes, surfboards and other sporting equipment for guest use.
Named for the commanding peak that stretches more than 14,000 feet above sea level, the town of Mt. Shasta makes a great winter getaway. For starters, views of the snow-capped mountain (actually a volcano) are around every turn, making even a mellow drive dramatic. In winter, you can head to Mt. Shasta Ski Park for some epic skiing, snowboarding or tubing. The city also has a seasonal ice rink. You can also explore the many waterfalls found in the area, which include Burney Falls and Hedge Creek Falls. Or, if you’re feeling energetic, you can snowshoe to McCloud Falls, a series of three waterfalls along the McCloud River.
Where to Eat in Mt. Shasta
Back in town, you can browse the quaint shops and galleries or grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Spots to consider include Mike and Tony’s for Italian cuisine or Yaks Shack for hearty burgers and breakfast fare.
Where to Stay in Mt. Shasta
If you’re looking for a house to rent in Mt. Shasta, this swanky chalet fits the bill. It features cozy, modern design and even has a hot tub and fireplace to keep you warm. Another option is this mountain estate, which is surrounded by nature, including trails for hiking or snowshoeing. There’s even an outdoor fire pit.
Located on the Russian River in Sonoma County, Guerneville is a charming, laid-back town that makes for a great weekend getaway. In the summer, the town is crowded with visitors who flock to the river for paddling and swimming. But in winter, you’ll have it seemingly all to yourself. There are several wineries here, including Korbel Champagne Cellars, which has tastings and tours. If you need to get your nature fix, head to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, which has a visitors’ center and self-guided walking trails.
Where to Eat in Guerneville
After all that exploring, you may be in need of some sustenance. You can grab some great farm-to-table cuisine at boon eat + drink, which showcases locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. At Main St. Bistro, you’ll find California-inspired Italian fare and live music most nights of the week.
Where to Stay in Guerneville
You can relax and unwind at this modern farmhouse just minutes from town. The home is nestled in the redwoods, with luxury décor and all the amenities you need for a great getaway. There’s a hot tub and fire pit, plus a game room with pool and ping pong. Another option is this oasis overlooking a vineyard. It has a hot tub and a hammock for relaxing beneath the trees.
Just north of San Francisco, Sausalito is a charming waterfront town known for its many houseboats that serve as permanent homes for their residents. In fact, there are boardwalks and promenades that allow you to explore these “neighborhoods.” There are scenic viewpoints galore where you can see the boats go in and out of the harbor. You can also rent a bike and explore the area on two wheels. Sausalito also has a cute downtown area with numerous art galleries and shops.
Where to Eat in Sausalito
There are dozens of restaurants in Sausalito. One to try is The Spinnaker, which serves elevated seafood dishes and boasts panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline. Another great place for views is Scoma’s, an Italian-influenced seafood spot overlooking the bay.
Where to Stay in Sausalito
Continuing with the theme of amazing water views, this hillside home has oversized windows and views from its large outdoor deck. Or, you can stay on the water itself at this floating cottage. It has room for four, with an outdoor dining area and a potbelly stove.
Featured photo courtesy of AirBnB.