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California San Francisco Area TRAVEL U.S.A.

Best Day Trips From San Francisco

July 1, 2017

Today I’m sharing some insider tips on local day trips from San Francisco. Although the city offers a lot to see and do, a few hours in any direction will uncover another magical world.

Day Trip from San Francisco

Go North


Cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge on a rental bike to charming Sausalito. On the way, photograph the bridge from Cavallo Point. Enjoy a drink on the porch if the weather is warm or seek shelter inside cozy Farley Bar.

Once in Sausalito, grab a coffee and pastry at Cibo, a drink and pizza on the beach at Bar Bocce , or yummy seafood at Fish. The town also is accessible by ferry, tour bus, or taxi.

Day Trip to Sausalito


Tiburon is less touristy than Sausalito yet on a ferry route as well.  Nearby Main Street hosts a string of restaurants, many of which provide a spectacular view of the San Francisco skyline.

Visit Tiburon from San Francisco

Car-free Angel Island is a State Park to be explored by foot, bike, or segway. Grab the ferry from San Francisco or Tiburon to the island with spectacular 360° views of the Bay. (The eateries in the San Francisco Ferry Building are worth a trip, particularly The Slanted Door.)

Muir Woods

Drive up Mt. Tamalpais to Mountain Home Inn for lunch with an amazing view. The ambitious can hike from there to the ancient redwood forest in Muir Woods, but most will choose to park closer to the National Monument.

Forest near Muir Woods

West Marin

Where can you shuck oysters by the ocean, sample cheese, and walk the Earthquake Trail in one day? Read more in my West Marin itinerary post.

Wine Country

Napa Valley is a popular day trip option, which I wrote about here. While tourists flock to Napa Valley by the bus load, locals ‘in the know’ veer toward more relaxed Sonoma County wineries. We like to pick up a picnic lunch at Dry Creek General Store and enjoy it with a bottle of wine by the creek at Truett Hurst Winery.

Visit Sonoma wineries near San Francisco

Let’s Head East

Mt. Diablo State Park leads free guided tarantula tours at dusk during the mating season. Check out this unforgettable hike offered in September and October.

Hiking among tarantulas

Let’s Head South

Three picturesque towns dot Monterey Bay: Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Carmel (just around the point). It’s a little-known fact that this bay boasts a deep underwater canyon that rivals the size of the Grand Canyon and is popular with divers. Spy sea otters and sea lions near the shore or get closer to whales, orcas, and dolphins on a whale-watching tour.

Flying a kite and sitting around a bonfire are two popular beach activities Californians enjoy all year (bonfire rules differ for each beach). Swing by the local grocery store to pick up hot dogs, s’mores, and firewood.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is approximately 1.5 hours south of San Francisco. World-class surfing and a beachfront boardwalk lure locals and tourists alike. We like to rent one of the adorable beach cottages near Seabright Beach.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk


Journey further south to reach Monterey with its famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row. Binge watchers of HBO’s dark comedy-drama miniseries Big Little Lies will recognize the reference to this town.


You may remember that actor/filmmaker Clint Eastwood (‘Dirty Harry’) was the town’s most famous mayor, but did you know high heel shoes over 2″ tall require a permit from City Hall?  To retain the quaint village vibe, most houses are named not numbered. This upscale town can be reached in 2.5 hours from San Francisco.

Beaches near San Francisco

With so many remarkable places to visit beyond San Francisco, it’s worth returning to the Bay Area again and again. Although we moved here three years ago, I’m still working through my local bucket list. What are your Bay Area must-dos?

Source: Carmel Fun Facts

Previous post: 10 Locations To Photograph The Golden Gate Bridge


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