Get your gear into the car. Fill the tank. Head out of town. Where to? So many great places are within reach of the greater Sacramento area that you’ll have a great time no matter where you go. Take the time to explore and build memories over Memorial Day weekend.

Marin Lodge
1735 Lincoln Ave.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 578-2827

There are two reasons to stay at Marin Lodge. First, it’s affordable, which can be elusive in the Bay Area. Second, it’s a great place to call base as you explore the Marin Headlands. Known as the crown jewel of the Golden Gate National Parks, the Marin Headlands are beyond stunning. Not that long ago, most of this area was owned by the United States Army. What a fitting way to spend Memorial Day, peacefully hiking and exploring many fantastic spots over the weekend. Book your stay early, and consider an extra day or two. You just might need it.

The River Street Inn
10009 E. River St.
Truckee, CA 96161
(530) 550-9290

The historic railroad town of Truckee is located just off I80. The fine River Street Inn is a welcoming Bed and Breakfast that is on the Truckee River. Surround yourself with gracious comfort. Head outside to wander about this amazing little town, full of unique shops and good places to eat. Hike some of the nearby trails, make a short trip to Donner Lake or just wander aimlessly. For a hint of bright lights and big city, Reno is just over the mountain. Kick back, take it easy and enjoy the high mountain ambiance. When the sun goes down, enjoy a wide open star canopy before calling it day.

Strawberry Lodge
17510 U.S. Highway 50
Kyburz, CA 95720
(800) 373-1096

This historic mountain lodge rests right on the American River, just a short bit away from its origin. Family friendly is a good description of the lodge. The large dining room, all by itself, is a destination. For anyone who is a rock climber, this is where you want to spend this weekend. Look to the east from the back lawn and you’ll be staring at Lover’s Leap, an internationally known chunk of granite that is a famous climbing spot. Just up the road is the hike to Horsetail Falls, and just to the west are great Forest Service roads to mountain bike. Over Echo Summit is South Lake Tahoe. You could be very busy here, or you could relax inside or outside and just watch the world continue to spin. You’ll enjoy the ambiance and the cool mountain air.

Related: Best Weekend Getaways In The Sacramento Area

Camp Richardson
1900 Jameson Beach Road
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(530) 541-1801

Camp Richardson offers cabins just a few dozen yards from Lake Tahoe or rooms in the hotel. Either way, you’ve got a perfect place to plop down for the weekend. One option is to simply enjoy the lake. On a more active note, there is a wonderful paved bike path that runs past the hotel. Kayaks and paddle boards can be rented at the marina, and for your little ones, there is a great nature walk at the Visitors Center. Not far away are short hikes to spectacular places. A quick drive will take you to the Heavenly Gondolas that will take you up Heavenly Mountain to hike, relax, enjoy lunch or just be mesmerized by the view from up top. You are in the perfect place to enjoy all that South Lake Tahoe has to offer.

Squaw Valley Lodge
201 Squaw Peak Road
Olympic Valley, CA 96146
(530) 583-5500

Located in Olympic Valley, the Squaw Valley Lodge is a gorgeous and comfortable place to stay while enjoying the stunning splendor of the area. Hiking around here offers several opportunities; Shirley Canyon, Five Lake and Twin Peaks are well within range. Take the tram up to High Camp and hike to Emigrant Peak. From here you get a 360-degree view, with Lake Tahoe and all of the surrounding mountains included. Get your bicycle out and ride down to Tahoe City on the paved trail that parallels the Truckee River. Tahoe City is a fantastic town to explore. Dine at one of the eateries at The Village in Squaw Valley, or head to one of the numerous other spots dotting the lake. Accommodations here come with access to the pool, spa, workout facilities and sauna.

Related: Best Places For Stargazing In Sacramento

Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. In 2010 he retired from teaching after 36 years . He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at