Imagine your ideal outdoor experience. Maybe you want to hike among towering Redwoods or paddleboard on clear blue waters or go back in time to the California Gold Rush. No matter what kind of adventure you enjoy, Sacramento International Airport
(SMF) is the gateway to all that Northern California has to offer. The state is home to nine national parks – more than any other state in the country – and the state park system of 280 parks is one of the biggest and most diverse in the world. The state parks alone consist of more than 1.5 million acres of land and 320 miles of protected coastline.
A little more than two hours west of SMF, Point Reyes National Seashore protects more than 1,500 animal and plant species and 80 miles of shoreline. The park’s visitor center is a great place to start exploring – everything from whale watching, coastal hiking and stunning wildflower displays. Not far down the road, you can shuck your own oysters at Tomales Bay.
Yosemite National Park is only a 3-4 hour drive from SMF but will feel worlds away. From its dramatic waterfalls, giant sequoias and unbelievably tall, sheer granite towers, there is no shortage of activities from hiking and biking to camping, rafting and simply marveling at some of Mother Nature’s most incredible work.
“SMF makes it easy to experience the best of Northern California,” said Cindy Nichol, Director of Airports for Sacramento County Airport System. “There are literally dozens of state parks within a short drive from the airport, so once you know what the right experience is for you, we can help get you there.”
Old Sacramento State Historic Park looks much like it did in 1849 – historic buildings, cobblestone streets and Gold Rush charm. Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park in Midtown and Coloma in El Dorado County east of Sacramento are also great places to visit to learn about the history of gold in California.
Columbia was once known as the "Gem of the Southern Mines" and by the early 1900s as much as $150 million in gold was mined here. The South Yuba River State Park includes the longest single-span covered bridge in the world, the steep rugged canyon of the South Yuba River, and the Independence Trail - the first identified wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail in the country.
The Tahoe State Recreation Area in Tahoe City offers fun for everyone. Jog, walk or bike the paved trail along stunning Lake Tahoe or just take in the sun on the beach or by boat or on a hiking trail. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the U.S. and has 72 miles of shoreline, both white and sandy and rugged and natural.
For the history buff, Sonoma State Historic Park is the northernmost Franciscan Mission in California and birthplace of the California State Bear Flag. The Park is home to many historical attractions right next to Sonoma’s Plaza, including Mission San Francisco Solano, the Blue Wing Inn, Sonoma Barracks, the Toscano Hotel, the Servants Quarters and the home of General Vallejo, the military commander of the Northern Frontier. Just a little over an hour from SMF, you can get your fill of history and enjoy some of the best wines in the world.