After the self-consciousness of many Northern California towns, Red Bluff's inherent modesty is refreshing. But, unlike other quaint American towns, Red Bluff has more to offer than a five-and-dime and a movie theater. It's home to some of the finest Victorians in the region and a main street lined with antique stores stuffed full of treasure. A high-quality bike path, virtually unused by locals, winds through groves of trees toward the famed Lake Red Bluff. If you want even more nature, drive to Mount Lassen, just 40 miles northeast of Red Bluff, which is spotted with hot springs and glacial lakes, and reached by driving over a wondrous plateau along Highway 36. Another 20-minute drive out of Red Bluff on Highway 99 lands you in the Abbey of New Clairvaux, where you can attend services with the Trappist-Cistercian monks, or just wander through the scenic walnut groves. On your way back to the Bay Area visit the Olive Pit in Corning, where a well-stocked tasting bar will give you all sorts of new opinions about olives.
Three hours north of San Francisco on Interstate 5