Survive and Thrive: Beale Air Force Base

When I moved from a large city to Yuba County, California, home of Beale Air Force Base, the most difficult part for me was how it wasn’t particularly close to anything. Pretty much anything remotely cool or interesting to do will require at least a 30 minute car ride. You will need a car at Beale AFB because public transportation in the area leaves a lot to be desired. Personally, I tend to avoid the areas immediately surrounding the base for the most part because there is a lot of crime. That being said, if you are willing to do some traveling, there are some neat things around the area. Some of my favorites include:

Lake Tahoe
Simply put, the Tahoe area is gorgeous and you can find fun things to do there in every season. During winter, there are plenty of opportunities for skiing and snowboarding at the local resorts, and during the spring and summer, check out the places to swim, hike, and engage in watersports. Tahoe is a 2.5-3 hour drive from Beale, depending on traffic, and definitely worth it.

Reno is known as “The Biggest Little City in the World.” If you like gambling, Reno is your best bet (no pun intended!) while at Beale. It’s about a two hour drive from Beale, but there are tons of casinos. The National Championship Air Races are also held annually in Reno (hence their nickname, “the Reno Air Races”). Reno is one of the few venues where folks can go watch these types of air races and see awesome stunts and flying demonstrations.

The city of Sacramento is about an hour’s drive from Beale. Head to Sacramento if you’re looking for festivals and conventions, or anything related to the arts (i.e., musicals, film festivals, art viewings, etc.). Between Old Sac and the legislature, there is a ton of history to learn about via tours and museums. Also, there are a number of great restaurants in downtown and midtown Sacramento. And if you’re an NBA fan, check out a basketball game and cheer on the Sacramento Kings.

The Roseville/Rocklin/Lincoln area is probably my favorite area around Beale. Roseville is a 45-60 minute drive, Rocklin about 35-45, and Lincoln, about 30 minutes, depending on the part of the city you’re going to and how traffic is, but there’s so much to do! Roseville and Rocklin have TONS of restaurants (both local and chains), nightlife, and opportunities for shopping, including what is, in my opinion, the best mall in the area (the Roseville Galleria). There are also lots of craft breweries in the area.

Other areas that are awesome and not too far away include the San Francisco Bay Area (LOTS of good restaurants, museums, culture, shopping, nightlife… pretty much anything you could need or want can be found here), Nevada City/Grass Valley (great for motorcycle rides and camping!), Folsom (great shopping, including some awesome outlets), and Auburn (awesome local restaurants/cafes, a historic courthouse, and lots of cool wineries).

Beale AFB is nestled in a less-than-desirable location, but it is central to many fun places to explore. These locations offer activities ranging from camping to shopping and everything in between. While the on-base experience can vary person to person, getting the most out of your time at Beale will likely mean looking beyond the immediate area surrounding the base.

Have you ever been stationed at Beale AFB? What would you tell someone who’s moving there?

Posted by Roberta Fox, military spouse and NMFA Volunteer


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  1. 2

    We are currently at Beale and I agree with the you have to get out and explore however it’s just so pricey. While everything is just a hour or more drive away we have found it to cost way to much to make it a weekly adventure. We wanted to love Beale but find financially California is draining. We pay more for everything here from bottle water to gas, our food bill doubles for basically the same food, our insurance went up. There also seems to be a lot of drama at Beale. However I agree with what you said above and love this post. There is so much to see and do just a bit pricey to do it. We have found a day trip to Grass Valley or going to the Nevada fair grounds for different events can be cheap and fun for the whole family. Also noting you can see snow less then a hour away from base! We drive until we hit snow and just pull over and play. Trinidad and the redwoods are amazing to go see even though it’s a 5 hour drive.

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