San Francisco July 01, 2016
Here Are 11 Unique Day Trips Near San Francisco That Are An Absolute Must-Do
It’s easy to stay cozy in the 7×7 bubble of San Francisco, which holds a wealth of attractions, both indoors and out. But sometimes a change of scenery does the mind and body good, and, thankfully, city residents have a myriad of fun options to our disposal, in whatever direction we choose to travel (even straight into the Pacific), with whatever means of transportation we can get our hands on. Here are a few day trips near San Francisco that are an absolute must-do.
1. Marin Headlands, Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais & Stinson Beach
Travel slightly north and take a look at the city from a whole different angle. Marin County has a slew of things to do: explore the coastal areas of the Marin Headlands (including the Point Bonita Lighthouse), walk through the sky-high redwoods of Muir Woods, hike up Mt. Tam, and hang out on the expansive Stinson Beach.
2. Napa & Sonoma Counties
Another day trip with endless (and plenty of alcohol-induced) opportunities: Make your way up through the wine country of Napa and Sonoma, where you’ll find hundreds of wineries to visit and quaint towns to pass through, all with incredible scenery and food (we suggest stops in Sebastopol, Calistoga, and/or St. Helena, too).
3. Half Moon Bay & Pescadero
Take a short trip down Highway 1 and stop at the adorable seaside town of Half Moon Bay. Explore the fancy Ritz-Carlton while you’re at it, as well as the beach that sits below it. From there, keep traveling south to Pescadero for more great beach options. Then, head into the small downtown and to Harley Farms to play with goats and sample their incredible cheeses. If you keep traveling south, we also recommend a hike through Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
4. Santa Cruz
Keep traveling south and you’ll find yourself in Surf City. Walk around downtown for great shops and cafes, then take to the Beach Boardwalk, hop on some rides, and scarf down a funnel cake. It’s also worth exploring nearby nature, including Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where you can even go ziplining through the trees.
5. Oakland & Berkeley
No car? No problem. Because our neighbors across the bay have some pretty great attractions to discover. Take a walk around Oakland’s Lake Merritt (and be extra kind to the geese), and head to neighborhoods like Rockridge, Temescal, and Piedmont Avenue for quirky shops and notable eateries. Don’t forget to stop by the Gourmet Ghetto of Berkeley for some of the Bay Area’s finest restaurants. You’ll also find plenty of great hiking trails scattered throughout the hills of Oakland and Berkeley.
6. Sausalito & Tiburon
The best way to experience these two charming towns across the bay is by bike and/or ferry. Both will quickly melt the city stress right off of you with their cute boutiques, cool art galleries, fantastic waterside bistros and cafes, and, of course unmatched views. For a jam-packed day of fun, we recommend biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping in Sausalito first, then winding your way through to Tiburon, and taking the ferry back to the city.
7. Angel Island
A quick ferry ride away from downtown, Angel Island, a California Historical Landmark, is for the more adventurous day-trippers. There are a few different hiking trails, all of which grant 360 views of the bay, as well as plenty of historical landmarks to explore. If you want to turn this into more than just a day trip, it’s also a pretty cool spot to
8. Bolinas & Point Reyes National Seashore
Just north of Stinson Beach is the artsy small town of Bolinas. It’s a good spot to grab some lunch before heading to Point Reyes National Seashore, which offers some of Marin County’s most beautiful trails (and that’s saying
a lot). Our favorite hike takes you to the stunning beauty of Alamere Falls.
9. Tomales Bay & Bodega Bay
Travel further up the coast to explore two more beautiful spots: Shuck and slurp your way through all the oysters you can eat along Tomales Bay, then head up to the picturesque fishing village of Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock filmed
10. Skyline Boulevard
From San Francisco, head south on Highway 280, then take Highway 92 until you reach the peak, where you’ll arrive at the Skyline Boulevard. This road winds through lush mountain forests and offers scenic overlooks of the Pacific as well. Take a pit stop at the rustic biker diner Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside, and go for a hike (and a climb) in Castle Rock State Park.
11. Farallon Islands
A few different tour companies will guide you right into the Pacific, 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco, to explore this group of islands, home to seals, whales, and even great white sharks.
Seriously, you can’t get bored around here, but if you’re looking for more great things to do around San Francisco, check out these nearby hiking spots, waterfalls, and state parks.