A Food Lover’s Guide to Visiting Northern California

Northern California is a dream destination for food lovers. As a native Californian, I am excited to share info and the best finds in my all-time favorite state!

Northern California has a fascinating history and vibrant, diverse culture, which has greatly impacted its food and given it a unique combination of flavors.

The region even has its own unique style — Cal-Mex— that blends traditional Mexican ingredients with local fresh, healthy Californian produce like avocados, tomatoes, and lettuce.

Northern California

Have you heard about the Northern vs. Southern California dispute the locals have? 

Well,…. Shhhhhh… I am from northern California, so it’s my fave.

The region stretches from San Francisco in the south up to the Oregon border in the north. 

First, Northern California offers some of the most spectacular outdoor activities in the country. From hiking in Yosemite National Park to cycling along Napa Valley’s gorgeous vineyards, you’ll find plenty of ways to explore this region’s incredible landscape.

Northern California also boasts some vibrant cities like San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento, offering unique cultural experiences for those who venture there.

As far as landscape goes, you really can find it all here.  Snow-capped mountains?  Check.  Rolling Hills?  Check.  Lush vineyards?  Check.   Redwood Forests?  Check.  Pristine Beaches? Check.  

San Francisco

San Francisco is one of California’s most iconic cities. 

Having lived here during one of the best times of my life (College!), I’ve got A LOT to say about this fabulous city. 

A weekend trip to San Francisco.
Go Giants!

San Francisco’s neighborhoods

Within this bustling city lies a melting pot of unique neighborhoods that offer something for everyone.

Each neighborhood has its own distinct personality, from the historic Italian North Beach to the colorful Victorian architecture of Haight-Ashbury. Whether you want to discover trendy restaurants, explore a vibrant nightlife scene or simply soak up some sunshine in one of San Francisco’s many parks, there’s no shortage of fun things to do and places to see here.


The city has a great nightlife scene. 


Top Dive Bars in San Francisco

Must Visit Cocktail Bars of San Francisco

A Guide to Exploring San Francisco’s Chinatown

North Beach is one of my favorite San Francisco neighborhoods to eat and drink.

Napa Valley

World-famous wine-lovers paradise Napa Valley is just a short drive from San Francisco.

If you want to visit both Napa Valley and San Francisco, consider a food/wine tour of both regions, like this one. Note that this does NOT include the tasting fees.

This gorgeous area is home to some of the world’s best wineries, where you can taste delicious wines while surrounded by stunning vineyard landscapes. Its also been rated one of the top foodie places by multiple sources.


Oldtown Sacramento

I moved to the area about 20 years ago, and I admit that moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento at the time was a bit of a downgrade when it came to diverse, high-quality food options.

A lot has changed.

Sacramento, the nation’s Farm to Fork Capital.

Sacramento, known as the “Farm to Fork Capital,” has recently transformed into a hub for high-quality, diverse food options. The city alsohas a great coffee culture, a variety of international cuisines, and farm-fresh flavors, making it a food lover’s destination.

Ming Dynasty in Sacramento

Gold Country


cute downtown Murphys, complete with an adorable cruiser bike 🙂

Murphy’s is a super cute, historic Gold Rush town located in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It’s a small, close-knit, friendly community with a vibrant downtown. It’s a hidden gem for wine lovers.

I know this, because we recently purchased a house there.

Murphys Historic Hotel & Restaurant


Arguably the most popular restaurant in Murphys, Grounds

Delicious pizza at Murphys Pizza Co.

V Bistro, Restaurant, and Bar

One of my favorites in Murphys. It’s very friendly, and the food is so fresh and delicious. They serve lunch and dinner, with fine dining dinner available Thursday-Sunday starting at 5pm. It’s a fairly small place, so make reservations if you’re going for dinner on a weekend. Or, sit at their bar while sipping on one of their handcrafted cocktails.

espresso martini at V Bar and Bistro

JoMa’s Artisan Ice Cream

For dessert, stop by the popular JoMa’s Artisan Ice Cream. Their small-batch ice creams are truly delicious, and their sorbets have unique flavor combinations that make them mouth-watering.