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An epic Half Moon Bay sunset | © Mitchel Jones/Flickr
An epic Half Moon Bay sunset | © Mitchel Jones/Flickr
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Incredible Day Trips Just Outside San Francisco

Picture of Susan Blick
Updated: 16 April 2018
From long coastlines to rolling wineries, Northern California is full of amazing places located right outside San Francisco. Embrace your adventurous side and check out some of the Bay Area’s best day trips.

Sausalito

About 30 mins from SF

Sausalito offers small town charm and a stunning waterfront that is located right across the Golden Gate Bridge. Known as a hotspot for early morning endurance athletes, Sausalito has awesome running and biking routes as well as kayaking, rowing, and sailing clubs. After getting your sweat on, make sure to refuel at one of its great restaurants, like The Trident or Fred’s Place.

Sausalito’s houseboats at sunrise | © Miwok/Flickr
Sausalito’s houseboats at sunrise | © Miwok/Flickr

Oakland

About 30 mins from SF

With concerts, festivals, and other great events happening nearly every weekend, Oakland is an ideal place to find your next great passion. De-stress from a long day with a trip to Oakland’s First Friday Festival, a celebration of art, music, and food held on — you guessed it — the first Friday of every month. Weekend events include lots of farmer’s markets, like the Jack London Square Farmer’s Market and Temescal Farmer’s Market, as well as the highly anticipated Bacon and Beer Festival.

The Port of Oakland’s container cranes at sunset | © tony’s pics/Flickr
The Port of Oakland’s container cranes at sunset | © tony’s pics/Flickr

Berkeley

About 30 mins from SF

From UC Berkeley Athletic events to quirky shops up and down Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley offers a little something for everyone. If the bustling city is not quite your style, head to Tilden Park for a swim in Lake Anza or hike up to Grizzly Peak for an epic sunrise or sunset.

A hidden view of UC Berkeley | © John Morgan/Flickr
A hidden view of UC Berkeley | © John Morgan/Flickr

Mount Diablo State Park

About 45 minutes from SF

The summit of Mount Diablo has spectacular 360 degree views of the Bay Area — on a clear day, you may even be able to spot the Golden Gate Bridge. Whether you decide to hike, bike, or drive up the mountain, you won’t regret the journey. After heading down the mountain, be sure to hit up Country Waffles for delicious breakfast foods like Peanut Butter n’ Banana and Cinnamon Apple waffles.

Looking up at Mount Diablo | © Miguel Vieira/Flickr
Looking up at Mount Diablo | © Miguel Vieira/Flickr

Half Moon Bay

About 45 minutes from SF

If you’re a fan of long walks on the beach, Half Moon Bay is the place for you. This fun beach town is most well known as a great surf spot and home of the awe-inspiring Titans of Mavericks big wave surfing event. After hitting the beach, head to one of Half Moon Bay’s many great seafood restaurants, like Sam’s Chowder House, Flying Fish Bar & Grill, or Café Capistrano.

An epic Half Moon Bay sunset | © Mitchel Jones/Flickr
An epic Half Moon Bay sunset | © Mitchel Jones/Flickr

Stinson Beach

About an hour from SF

To get to Stinson Beach from San Francisco, head north up the picturesque California 1 Highway. Once you arrive in town, go straight to the beach and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean. After taking a nice stroll on Stinson Beach, head to Breaker’s Cafe for one of their awesome breakfast specials, like the Mt. Tam Paleo with eggs, avocado, bacon, and spinach or the Phat Auggies Style with two pancakes, two eggs, and two pieces of bacon. If you’re looking for adventure, hit the trails and hike up Mt. Tam to enjoy miles of beautiful and lush mountain terrain. If you’re in search of something a little more relaxing, head to Stinson Beach Books or the Stinson Beach Gallery.

Huge boulders at Stinson Beach | © Mark Doliner/Flickr
Huge boulders at Stinson Beach | © Mark Doliner/Flickr

Napa Valley

About an hour and fifteen minutes from SF

Napa Valley is a world-famous wine producing region with hundreds of wineries and beautiful vineyards. From the luxurious Opus One Winery to the more casual V. Sattui Winery with its grassy picnic area, Napa offers the perfect winery experience. After a few glasses of wine, head over to Gott’s Roadside for a delicious burger and fries to sober up before the ride home, and to make your day even more glamorous (and safe), make sure to hire a driver to take you from tasting to tasting. Check out some great San Francisco based limo rental companies like the Napa Limo Tour or the Wine Country Tour Shuttle.

The Hess Vineyards in Napa Valley | mat79/Flickr
The Hess Vineyards in Napa Valley | mat79/Flickr

Sonoma

A little over an hour from SF

Sonoma County offers fabulous wine tastings as well as spa getaways and colorful art galleries. Make sure to head to Lancaster Estate Winery and Portalupi Winery for their amazing selection of wines and scenic locations. For lunch, grab sandwiches at the always popular Sonoma Cheese Factory followed by a delicious dinner at the rustic Glen Ellen Star.

Sonoma Plaza, the largest plaza in all of California | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
Sonoma Plaza, the largest plaza in all of California | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr

Point Reyes

About an hour and 15 minutes from SF

Point Reyes National Seashore is a protected area that is home to many different plants and animals. One of the most popular spots in Point Reyes is the Phillip Burton Wilderness, an area with 3,373 acres of magnificent California coastline which is named after a congressman who dedicated much of his life to creating the National Park System. This rocky and often stormy area has a dark side as well, and was the final resting place for over fifty shipwrecks. The town of Point Reyes Station, located slightly inland, is home to the Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve and a dozen oyster farms and restaurants. Many of these restaurants make you work for your dinner in that they offer the full oyster harvesting and shucking experience!

A foggy but beautiful view of the Point Reyes’ coastline | © Navin75/Flickr
A foggy but beautiful view of the Point Reyes’ coastline | © Navin75/Flickr

Santa Cruz

About an hour and a half from SF

Known for great waves and even better pizza, Santa Cruz is another great beach town located about an hour and a half outside of San Francisco. With dozens of great surf spots along its beautiful coastline, Santa Cruz is the perfect town for kooks and professionals alike. After a long day of catching waves, head to the iconic pizza restaurant, Pizza My Heart, for the ultimate combo meal — a slice of pizza and a T-shirt for only $6.

A surfer waits for the perfect moment to dive in | © anthony_goto/Flickr
A surfer waits for the perfect moment to dive in | © anthony_goto/Flickr

Bodega Bay

About an hour and a half from SF

With great kayaking, fishing, and food, Bodega Bay is a superb day trip for anyone with an adventurous spirit. This popular spot has also secured a place in Hollywood history, as it has served as a filming location for blockbusters like The Birds and The Goonies. Grab fish and chips at The Boat House or pastries and breads at Wildflower Bread Company. If you prefer to catch your own meal, head to Doran Beach to test your crabbing skills.

Yet another beautiful California beach | © Antti T. Nissinen/Flickr
Yet another beautiful California beach | © Antti T. Nissinen/Flickr

By Susan Blick

Susan Blick, a San Francisco Bay Area native, recently graduated from Colgate University, where she double majored in Environmental Studies and Sociology & Anthropology. As a proud morning person, she lives by Phil Dunphy’s Phil’s-osophy to ‘Watch a sunrise at least once a day.’