Best Road Trips From Sacramento

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The capital of California, Sacramento, is a great jumping-off point for day trips in Central California. Envelop yourself in nature with a visit to Lake Tahoe, visit the smoldering landscape that is Lassen Volcanic National Park, or get up close and personal with a preserved gold mine in Empire Mine State Historic Park.
Wherever you go on your trip through California’s heartland, take a roadside assistance membership with Jerry on your Golden State adventure. At $6.99, Jerry's roadside assistance program offers a full menu of services, including towing, flat tire fixes, and winching—just in case your car ends up in a Sequoia-sized ditch.
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Now, keep reading to find out more about the best road trips from Sacramento!

Trip 1—Sacramento, CA

Trees lead to the California Capitol Building, Sacramento.
California’s Capitol Building, Sacramento, California
Before burning rubber out of Sacramento, take a hot minute to enjoy California’s hip state capital city. Explore the seat of the state legislature, stroll around the Sacramento of yesteryear, or grab a bite at one of many top-rated restaurants.
Being the engaged citizen you are (right?), take a tour of California’s Capitol Building and get up close and personal with the state’s legislative body (and where the Gover-nator went to work for eight years).
Get a feel for what Sacramento was like back in the olden days with a visit to Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Take a ramble (or a horse-drawn carriage ride) over plank sidewalks and cobblestone streets as you explore 50 historic buildings dating back to the Gold Rush.
You can take a cruise down the Sacramento River in a historic riverboat as well. Sacramento River Cruise and River City Queen are two good options.
Food stops: Try a gluten-free brunch at Pushkin’s; Snack on delicious chocolate at Ginger Elizabeth; Or dine at Kru for an elegant Japanese dinner (try the sake-steamed mussels).
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Trip 2—Lake Tahoe, CA

With mountains in the background, a dock stretches out into the water of Lake Tahoe, California.
Lake Tahoe, California
2-hour drive from Sacramento to Tahoe City on I-80W
Head west to Lake Tahoe and be bowled over by this mountain town’s scenic beauty. Gawk at Lake Tahoe itself—at 6245 feet deep, it’s the second deepest lake in the country. Drive along the 72-mile shoreline for gorgeous scenery.
In the summer, Tahoe is home to boating, swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and more. In winter, hit the slopes for skiing and snowboarding.

Trip 3—Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

Snow lines a huge crater in Lassen Volcanic National Park, with black soil peeking through the white.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
3.5 hours north of Sacramento on I-5N
In the midst of Lassen National Forest, you’ll find the boiling, prehistoric Lassen Volcanic National Park, a fascinating geological landscape featuring volcanoes, gurgling hot springs, odorous sulfur vents, oozing lava flows, and many lakes.
Local Native Americans used to hunt deer in this area way back when.

Trip 4—Empire Mine State Historic Park, CA

1.25 hours from Sacramento along I-80E
"There’s gold in them thar’ hills!" Well...there was.
Empire Mine State Park: Sacramento was the seat of the 1850s Gold Rush, so do yourself a favor and check out Empire Mine State Historic Park for a close-up look at the best-preserved gold mine in the country.
The Empire Mine site sits on top of a sprawling 367 miles of mineshafts, a mile below the surface. Miners hammered away for the good stuff from 1850 to 1956. Pay for a guided tour of the mine and enter through the claustrophobic entrance to get a feel for how scary—or exhilarating—heading into the depths of the earth must have been.
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Trip 5—Lodi, CA

Rows of green grape vines stretch as far as the eye can see at a vineyard in Lodi, California.
Lodi, California
Head southeast from Sacramento to Lodi on I-5S for 40 minutes
Instead of braving the wine-sipping tourists in Napa Valley and Sonoma, head to Lodi for a more low-key but still exquisite—not to mention wallet-friendly—wine experience.
Surrounded by a rich diversity of soils, Lodi is quickly becoming a go-to wine destination. This area in the Central Valley is home to some of the world’s oldest Zinfandel vines.
In February, check out the Wine and Chocolate Weekend; In May, Lodi hosts ZinFest. Please drink responsibly.

Trip 6—Yosemite National Park, CA

A fisheye view of the mountains and valleys of Yosemite National Park on a sunny California day.
Yosemite National Park, California
Drive 2.75 hours along CA-99S and CA-120E from Sacramento to Yosemite
Yosemite National Park is one of the country’s most celebrated national parks. Just a few hours drive from Sacramento, give yourself a day to be gobsmacked by the jaw-dropping beauty lying within the park’s boundaries.
Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America, measuring 2455 feet. It’s a good idea to visit in the spring when the runoff is at its most thunderous. You can walk a quick (but sometimes slippery) path to the falls’ bottom. Or, you can test yourself with a 3.4-mile hike to the top.
Be sure to check out El Capitan, a vertical, granite monolith that’s been challenging climbers for decades. If you're a climber, you can clamber up it—beware though, it gets busy. If you just want to watch climbers struggle up—err, we mean scale—the granite face, there are plenty of spots where you can watch from a distance.

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