6 Awesomely Unique Small Towns to Visit in California’s Far North

Brought to you by Discover Siskiyou

Etna, California

Sitting 3 hours north of the hustle-and-bustle of Sacramento is an outdoor oasis littered with some of the most unique small towns in California. Siskiyou County is a beautiful area surrounding the mighty Mount Shasta that is jam-packed with unique outdoor destinations, fascinating history and small-town vibes. It’s the perfect trip for anyone looking for a getaway in Northern California.

Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or a relaxing vacation, there’s plenty to see in Siskiyou. In terms of places to stay, there are six awesomely unique small towns that are great for a weekend trip. Here are 6 small towns in Siskiyou County you have to visit:

Mt. Shasta

When people think of Siskiyou County, Mt. Shasta is typically the first place that comes to mind. The town sits nestled under the shadow of Mount Shasta and is typically known as the basecamp for adventure surrounding the volcano. With its proximity to the Mt. Shasta Ski Park, Lake Siskiyou and south facing trails on the mountain, Mt. Shasta is the perfect place to stay for anyone looking for an adventure. But spend a little time in town and you’re sure to be surprised by its unique vibes.

Lining Mt. Shasta Blvd through downtown is an array of tasty restaurants, fun bars, adventure shops and the famous “crystal shops” in town. The downtown area is a fun place to wander around for the day and mingle with the incredibly friendly locals in town. It’s also a short drive from Lake Siskiyou, the Mount Shasta Resort Golf Course, Heart and Castle lakes and Bunny Flats.

For hotels, we recommend places in town like LOGE Camps, Cold Creek Inn and the Inn at Mount Shasta. Find more places to stay in Mount Shasta here.

Dunsmuir

Photo by cswtwo

Stepping into Dunsmuir is like taking a time machine back into the 1920’s. The downtown area has kept the same vibe for nearly a century with plenty to do in the region. Along with historic structures and beautiful murals, the town has plenty to explore nearby including Hedge Creek Falls and Castle Crags.

Situated along the Upper Sacramento River just below Mount Shasta, Dunsmuir’s official town slogan is “Home of the Best Water on Earth.” Fly fishermen come from all over to catch the wild trout of the river and enjoy the small-town vibes of downtown. The town is easily walkable and includes great food at Yaks on the 5 and delicious craft beer at Dunsmuir Brewery Works.

We love staying at the Mossbrae Hotel or nearby Railroad Park Resort. Find more places to stay in Dunsmuir here.

Etna

Photo by David Berry

Who knew there was so much to do in the middle of nowhere? Etna is located approximately 30 minutes west of Yreka and is a popular stop for Pacific Crest Trail hikers traveling through the area. The Scott Valley area is great for hiking, biking and camping in the Marble Mountains, and Etna makes for the perfect basecamp for your adventure in the mountains.

Even as a small town at the base of the Marble Mountain Wilderness, Etna packs a big punch in terms of things to do in the downtown area. The most popular destination is Denny Bar, which sits as a fantastic restaurant, bar and distillery sitting right in the middle of town. You can also visit Paystreak Brewing Co., serving up craft beer made on stie.

For places to stay, the historic Collier Hotel in Etna is a unique experience. Find more places to stay in Etna here.

McCloud

The town of McCloud, conveniently located just 20 minutes from Interstate 5 in southern Siskiyou, is primarily known as the home of McCloud Falls. That designation is warranted, since the three waterfalls of McCloud might be the most spectacular outdoor destination in Northern California. But this small town has so much more to offer, nestled beautifully under the shadow of the mighty Mount Shasta.

For food and drink, be sure to stop by the Siskiyou Brew Works, which has a ton of craft beer on tap and delicious pizza to grub on. You can also enjoy a nice round of golf under the mountain at the McCloud Golf Club, which provides an alternative to the popular outdoor destinations along the McCloud River.

The well-known historic hotel of the town of McCloud is McCloud Mercantile, which opened in 1897 as a store and hotel for the mill workers at the McCloud River Lumber Company and their families. Today, the hotel and store remain a mainstay in the town of McCloud, attracting visitors from all over the west coast to enjoy the town’s history and shop the unique vintage lines that are still available in the store. Find more places to stay in McCloud here.

Weed

You see many people snicker when you bring up Weed, California. After all, it seems to be named after Cheech and Chong’s favorite pastime. In fact, Netflix named the town as funniest towns in America. Over the past couple of decades, the town has banked on its funny name with numerous gift shops slanging swag with “I Heart Weed, California” on the front. In fact, the town’s brewery, Mt. Shasta Brewing Co., made national headlines with its marketing campaign “Try Legal Weed.”

But Weed, California is so much more than it’s funny name.

This beloved small town was the namesake of Abner Weed, who built his lumber yard approximately five miles north of Black Butte, catching the winds descending down the mountain and drying his green lumber very quickly. Today, the town remains a historic symbol of the once wild west era of Siskiyou County.

Popular places to eat and drink in town include the Hi-Lo Cafe and Mt. Shasta Brewing Co., which both serve up great food and drinks throughout the day. A great place to stay in the area is Stewart Mineral Springs, a retreat and wellness center that offers an environment of sacred mineral waters, affordable accommodations, and a variety of workshops and retreats. The holistic experience at the resort includes private mineral baths, a wood-burning sauna and cool river plunges. Find more places to stay in Weed here.

Yreka

If you’re looking for a historic vibe in California’s Far North, a stay in Yreka is just what you’re looking for.

The small town of Yreka, California, sitting just to the north of the mighty Mount Shasta, has a prominent history in the early settlings of Northern California. As a crucial stopping point along the Siskiyou Trail, gold was found nearby and 2,000 gold miners quickly settled into the area in 1851. According to Mark Twain, the town was named as a misspelled palindrome of the word “bakery.”

A walk through Yreka’s historic district will give you plenty to do, including a visit to the Siskiyou County Museum which offers a plethora of educational opportunities for history buffs. You can stop for a beer and food at the Etna Brewing Co or grab some delicious eats at the Miner Street Meat Market. You’ll find plenty of historic sites along the way.

Find more places to stay in Yreka here.

Have fun on your visit to the small towns of Siskiyou County!

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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