Best Drives from Sacramento: Monterey, Pinnacles, Tahoe


Planning on hitting the road this weekend? We asked Bee readers to tell us the best Sacramento road trip spots.

Over 1,100 people voted and even more wrote to our team to let us know their favorite places we missed. Here are the top picks:

1. Monterey/Carmel-by-the-Sea

Children play on the beach in Monterey, Calif., Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Californians are being courted by local tourism boards promising safe and clean accommodations, restaurants and tours in a bid to boost the devastated economy of State. (AP Photo/Michael Liedtke) Michael Liedtke PA

This coastal getaway received 16% of the overall pool with 180 votes.

“Spectacular panoramas of the Big Sur coastline to the fairy tale cottages of the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey County is a truly inspired California getaway,” according to the county’s tourism website.

Things to do:

Distance: Nearly 200 miles; depending on where you are departing from in Sacramento, your journey will be approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes.

2. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe ranked second with 15%, or 170 votes for the “best road trips from Sacramento,” according to Bee readers. Randy Penche Bee File

Lake Tahoe placed second with 15%, or 170 votes.

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Lake Tahoe region offers a myriad of attractions, from ski resorts and beaches to lakeside restaurants, hiking and camping.

The freshwater lake straddles California and Nevada and is divided in South Tahoe and North Lake Tahoe.

Distance: Whether you’re heading north or south, the drive to the western edge of the lake will likely take you just over 2 hours and 100 miles from Sacramento.

3. Coastal Marin County

Tule elk graze in Drakes Bay near the Point Reyes shoreline on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. Hector Amezcua Sacramento Bee File

Located just north of San Francisco, Marin County bills itself as an “outdoor wonderland.” He obtained 138 votes, or 12%.

The weather permits “mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and sailing all year round. Plus, there are more relaxed activities like whale watching, bird watching, garden tours, scenic painting photography and more,” according to the county’s tourism website.

Sites to see may include: Stinson Beach, Mount Tamalpais, Point Reyes Station, Tomales Point, Petaluma, Mill Valley, Muir Woods, and Sausalito.

Distance: Just over 100 miles from Sacramento, in good weather, you can reach Stinson Beach in about two hours.

4. Mendocino

RB Mendocino 1 copy.jpg
Residents once dumped trash on Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, shown Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, and over time wave action wore away the shards of glass that littered the beach. The beach is now covered in smooth, colored pieces of glass. Randall Benton Sacramento Bee File

The northern California coastal community got 8% of the vote, or 93.

“Mendocino is an enchanted place filled with real, unspoilt Californian opportunity and home to misfits, mavericks and fun-loving makers,” according to the tourist site of the department.

Here you’ll find cliffside trails, wine, beaches, and art and history museums.

Distance: Just under 200 miles from Sacramento, it would take you about three hours and 45 minutes to get to your destination.

5. Pinnacles National Park

The mountainous national park came fifth with 84, or 7%, of the vote.

The National Parks Service writes that Pinnacles was “born out of fire” about 23 million years ago when several volcanoes “erupted, sank and slid,” forming today’s unique landscape.

“Travellers travel through chaparral, oak forests and canyon bottoms. Hikers enter rare talus caves and emerge to towering rock spiers teeming with life: prairie and peregrine falcons, golden eagles and the inspiring California condor. » says the parks website.

Distance: You can expect the roughly 180-mile journey to take three hours or more.

Other votes

Santa Cruz, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco and Napa Valley were all in the top 10. Then readers started writing to us: Sonoma, Feather River Canyon and Bodega Bay.

Reno, Nevada, came in last with just 23 votes.

This story was originally published January 14, 2022 5:00 a.m.

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Savanna Smith leads The Bee’s California utility team as editor. A graduate of the University of Kansas, she previously worked at the Kansas City Star as the editor of breaking news and ratings. She is a graduate in journalism and humanities.


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