Since moving back to California and living in San Francisco, I have found myself to be fairly active. I’m always searching for things to do and explore around the San Francisco Bay. There is plenty of places to visit, all within one, two and three hours from the city. I have compiled a full list of the best day trips from San Francisco!
Big Sur has the most beautiful drives in the world! Take a day trip to Big Sur and you will find endless ocean views along the Pacific Coast Highway! Visit Bixby Bridge, Mcway Falls and Pfeiffer Beach (purple sand beach). This can easily be done in a day if you start early! The drive is roughly under 3 hours from San Francisco if there’s no traffic. Or if you want to spend a weekend, check out my Weekend Guide to Big Sur.
HALF MOON BAY
Half Moon Bay is about 40 minutes from San Francisco. If you’re looking for a nice day at the beach, I suggest spending it here! The Ritz Carlton brunch is also very popular if you’re looking for a fancy brunch for that special occasion or celebration.
Lake Tahoe is a fresh water lake in Nevada where many people from San Francisco love to visit during the winter for winter activities or spend the summer along the gorgeous lake for a fun filled summer. I highly suggest spending a weekend around Lake Tahoe since there is so much to do, but it can easily be visited in a day if timed correctly. This past winter I did a day trip to Sierra at Tahoe with Skedaddle. Lake Tahoe is a little over 3 hours from San Francisco.
I haven’t been to Fort Bragg yet but it’s on my list! It’s a town in Mendocino County in the North Coast of California. Visit the glass beach, point arena lighthouse and enjoy the beautiful coast! It’s about 3 hours from San Francisco.
Monterey and Carmel are cities located in the Central Coast. If visiting Big Sur you will pass these towns and worth a stop if you have time. It is about 2 hours from San Francisco and an hour from Big sur. Visit the Monterey Bay Acquarium, Fisherman’s Wharf Pebble Beach and the Carmel beach. Both towns are very laid back and great if you’re looking for a relaxing day or weekend. If you’re looking to spend a weekend, check out my post: A Weekend Guide to Monterey.
If you love the outdoors and looking to get out of the city for a day hike, Muir Woods is where you should go! It is located 40 minutes from San Francisco. There are tons of trails but the best one is the 5 mile hike to Stinson Beach! You can learn more about my experience here: Exploring Muir Woods.
PALO ALTO/SAN JOSE
Palo Alto and San Jose are towns 40 minutes south of San Francisco. I love spending the day here visiting the Pace Gallery or mostly to just eat at all of the good restaurants!
Point Reyes is a park reserve located on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County. Spend the day visiting the Shipwreck, Cypress Tree Tunnel and the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Point Reyes is roughly an hour and 20 minutes from San Francisco.
Santa Cruz is a city roughly an hour and a half from San Francisco. A day trip is worth it! Visit the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and visit Davenport Beach on your way there or back. Davenport has an abandoned pier with swings but it can be tricky to find, it’s located 15-20 minutes North of Santa Cruz.
Sausalito is a cute town located in Marin County. Most people take a ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito which is roughly a 30 minute ferry ride. It’s a cute town along the water where you can bike, shop and enjoy a nice brunch. It reminds me of smaller version of Positano. Make sure to check the ferry schedule and location of departures.
WINE COUNTRY (NAPA & SONOMA)
Wine Country is one of the most popular day trips from San Francisco! Both roughly an hour from San Francisco makes it the perfect day trip! Who doesn’t love wine tasting when they have some of the best wines in the world! Make sure to check out the list of Sonoma and Napa wineries!
Comment below on where you’ll like to visit or which is your favorite?