Where do you want to go? Hop in your car and your adventure starts. Every time you do, you can end up in a wonderful spot within a decent drive from the city. All you have to do is pack some goodies, gather the family together and choose a direction. No matter where you choose to head, you’ll find great vistas, historic places, oceans, mountains and rolling foothills. Wander about and be amazed.
Apple Hill Off Highway 50

Highway 50 to the east will take you to Placerville.  Along the way from Sacramento, you’ll notice that the traffic thins out and you are headed uphill. Take Main St. through Placerville and enjoy this very well preserved gold rush town. Main St. will take you to Broadway. When you get to Schnell School Road, take it to Carson Road and turn right. Heading east, you will shortly find yourself in Apple Hill, surrounded by apple orchards. Take your time to drive these quiet country roads, enjoy the views and maybe apple goodies. You can also take the drive before the apple season truly starts, when things tend to get really busy.

The Crystal Basin Recreation Area Ice House Road

Past Pollock Pines on Highway 50, take the turn to the Crystal Basin Recreation Area. You are in the mountains. The road will take you through stands of smaller trees that have grown in the old Cleaveland Corral Fire. Notice the sweeping views as you drive. As you continue towards Loon Lake, the forest offers several species of towering conifers. Take your choice of pulling off at Ice House, Union Valley or Loon Lakes. Approaching Loon Lake, there are fantastic rock walls on one side of the road and fine views on the other. Pay attention, and soon you’ll be able to enjoy the lake.

Highway 49

If you would like to drive through a lot California history, this is the road to take. Take the northern part and you end up in the mountains. Head north on 49 out of Nevada City and watch as the foothill scenery transitions into more mountainous scenery. Take the time to enjoy the small communities along the way. Downieville has wonderful vistas, and the mountains and canyons are stunning. Quincy is a good spot to stop and have a bite to eat. Head home from here, and you will have had a wonderful drive through a gorgeous chunk of California history.

Related:  Best Places To Go On A Picnic In Sacramento

California E-16

This is a tour through foothills, corn fields and wine country. Head south towards Amador City, Sutter Creek and Jackson. The route will take you through Sloughouse, and at the right time of year the corn fields will be full and the corn sweet. The rolling hills are beautiful. Each of the small communities along the way are worth spending some time in. The farther south you get, the vista will fill with vineyards as far as you can see. It’s simply a stunning way to spend some time on the road, enjoying fine foothill country, just outside of Sacramento.

Highway 50 To Lake Tahoe

Driving on Highway 50 to Lake Tahoe takes you through the American River Canyon. From Pollock Pines to Echo Summit, you are driving along the American River, big trees all around. At Echo Summit, you get your first glimpse into the Tahoe Basin. Continue on 50, with Lake Tahoe in full view.  When you get to Spooner Summit, take Highway 28, and you’ll be on a course that will take you fully around the lake. At Tahoe City, you’ll take Highway 89 towards South Lake Tahoe. Along the way, fine communities, many views of the lake, a fantastic forest, Emerald Bay and Tallac Historic Estates are all within your trip as you travel these great roads.

Related: 5 Thanksgiving Getaways With Your Family

Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 41 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 Examiner.com.