A 49 square mile city known for its Golden Gate Bridge and cable cars is a cosmopolitan city of Northern California. This fog city is blessed with cultural diversity, beautiful nature, and wonderful amenities. But this time let’s take a Bay area weekend adventure with some weekend short trips from San Francisco. There are many places to visit near San Francisco for a short day trip or perfect weekend road trip with many options varying from nature to exotic beaches to laid-back towns to cultural places. So select your best day trips from 22 places to visit near San Francisco on weekend road trip.
Weekend road trips from San Francisco | 22 Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
The distance of Mendocino Coast from San Francisco – 155 Miles (Approx 3 to 3.5 hours)
Why Mendocino – Mendocino is known for its amazing Pacific Ocean coastline and is also famously known as California’s “Lost Coast”. It is famous for amazing coastal views, wonderful wine, and a romantic hotspot in northern California. Their visit to Mendocino is perfect for beach lovers and foodies.
Things to do in Mendocino – Must do in Mendocino
- Mendocino Headlands State Park
- Russian Gulch State Park
- Mendocino Art Center
- Van Damme State Park
- Point Cabrillo Lighthouse Museum
- Big River Beach
The distance of Hope Valley from San Francisco – 195 miles (Approx 3.5 hours to 4 hours)
Why Hope Valley – Located above 2100 from sea level, and surrounded by enchanting peaks, this mountainous region is famous for nature hiking, snow skiing in winter, fall colors in autumn, and a perfect photogenic spot for nature photography.
Things to do in Hope Valley – Must do in Hope Valley
- Day hike to Crater Lake & Scotts lake.
- West Carson River – Lost Lakes, Faith Valley & Hope Valley.
- Wylder Hope Valley
- Hope Valley Campground
The distance of Santa Cruz from San Francisco – 73 miles (Approx 1 to 1.5 hours)
Why Santa Cruz – A famous beach town of California and a hot favorite amongst surfers. This place is for sun, sand, and surfing. You will find amazing beaches, surfing opportunities, amusement rides, beer, and T-shirts related to surfing. So soak yourself into the sandy beaches and get some tan under the sunny town of Santa Cruz during a weekend road trip from San Francisco.
Things to do in Santa Cruz – Must do in Santa Cruz
- West Cliff Drive
- Santa Cruz Beach Broadwalk
- Natural Bridges State Beach
- Wilder Range State Park
- Roaring Camp Railroads
- Mystery Spot
- Please point Beach
The distance of Guerneville from San Francisco – 75 miles (Approx 1.25 to 1.5 hours)
Why Guerneville – Famous for redwood forests and wine-tasting. Popular vacation site for 150 years for nature hiking, biking, wine tasting, with all rustic vibes. Foodies to enjoy this place. There are many wineries nearby Guerneville.
Things to do in Guerneville – Must do in Guerneville
- Armstrong Redwood State Reserve
- Korbel Champagne Cellars
- Johnson’s Beach
- Porter-Bass Vineyard and Winery
- Cooprider Studio Art Gallery
- West Sonoma Inn Spa
- River Riders
The distance Big Sur from San Francisco – 147 miles (Approx – 2 Hr. 30 minutes)
Why Big Sur – Formed of rugged coastline with stunning views and it is the place where Saint Lucia mountains meet the Pacific Ocean. It is known as one of the most stunning coastlines in the world and also the most scenic coastline in the USA. Known for its wilderness, unexplored virgin coasts, this place comes under the best top nature attractions in the world.
VIRTUAL PACIFIC COAST ROAD TRIP – 22 Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
Things to do in Big Sur – Must do in Big Sur
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
- Andrew Molera State Park.
- Pfeiffer Beach
- Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
- Garrapata State Park.
- Sand Dollar Beach
The distance Carmel Valley from San Francisco – 125 Miles (Approx 2 to 2.25 hours)
Why Carmel Valley – A Victorian seaside town known for its rustic charm with historic Spanish mission, beautiful village vibes. A perfect romantic seaside town with sandy beaches, streets decked with trees. So if you love charming village-type towns with wonderful beaches then don’t miss Carmel Valley during your Bay area weekend adventures.
Things to do in Carmel Valley – Must do in Carmel Valley
- Garland Ranch Regional Park
- Carmel State Beach
- Point Lobos State Reserve
- Seventeen Mile Drive
- Tor House
- Walk along Ocean Avenue – for rustic village vibes.
- Winery tour across Folktale Winery & Vineyard, Holman Ranch, Cowgirl Winery, and many more.
- Take a tour of Carmel Fairytale Cottages.
The distance of Tomales Bay from San Francisco – 53 Miles (Approx 1.25 to 1.45 hours)
Why Tomales Bay – Nature lovers love this place for countryside beauty, blue waters kayaking, spotting oysters, and a beautiful wine county closest to San Francisco. So it is a perfect day or weekend road trip from San Francisco.
Things to do in Tomales Bay – Must do in Tomales Bay
- Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore
- Cypress Tree Tunnel
- Tomales Bay State Park
- Blue Waters Kayaking
- Tomales Point Trail
- Food & Farm Tours
- Sonoma Canopy Tours
- Dillon Beach and Drakes Beach.
THE HIGH SIERRA TRAIL
The distance of the High Sierra Trail from San Francisco – 285 Miles (Approx 5 to 5.5 hours)
Why the High Sierra Trail – It is a hiking trail in Sequoia National Park and an amazing photogenic national park in southern Nevada, California. Either you catch a spectacular sunrise from the top of Mt. Whitney or enjoy the sights of rugged mountain peaks, alpine lakes, stunning waterfalls. There are jewels of America’s Park system: Yosemite National Park, John Muir, and Ansel Adams Wilderness, and Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks in this hiking trail. If you want to cover this whole area, then you need a full week – 6 to 7 days for completing the whole hiking trail.
Things to do in High Sierra Trail – Must do in High Sierra Trail
- Crescent Meadow to 9 Mile Creek.
- 9 Mile Creek to Hamilton Lake.
- Hamilton Lake to Moraine Lake
- Moraine Lake to Junction Meadow.
- Junction Meadow to Guitar Lake.
- Guitar Lake to Mt. Whitney
- Moro Rock Trail
- The Congress Trail
- Tokopah Falls
- Giant Forest
- General Sherman Tree.
KING’S CANYON NATIONAL PARK
The distance of King’s Canyon National Park from San Francisco – 240 Miles (Approx 4 hours)
Why King’s Canyon National Park – Stunning forest area with giant trees, roaring rivers, sheer granite cliffs lining the Canyon, unrivaled beauty with horses’ stables. This spot offers you dramatic natural scenery and challenging hikes and therefore a favorite road trip from San Francisco for all nature lovers.
Things to do in King’s Canyon National Park – Must do in King’s Canyon National Park
- King’s Canyon
- General Grant Tree
- Cedar Grove
- Grant Grove
- Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
- Zumwalt Meadow
The distance of Yosemite from San Francisco – 178 Miles (Approx 3 to 3.25 hours)
Why Yosemite – A 1200 sq. miles area blessed with natural beauties is a paradise for all nature lovers. Located at northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountain, here you can enjoy outdoor nature activities like hiking, climbing mountains, horseback riding, river rafting, in summers and snow skiing, snowboarding in winter. It is one of the most visited national parks in the USA. It is famous for granite monoliths like Half Dome and Capitan. Enjoy the spectacular granite monoliths with the sunset as they look like fire at sunset. Also, it houses 400 species of flora, fauna, and wildlife. Here waterfalls are famous due to the formation of a rainbow with them. Therefore Yosemite is a favorite road trip from San Francisco.
Things to do in Yosemite – Must do in Yosemite
- Ribbon Falls, Bridalveil Falls, Horsetail Falls, Vernal Fall
- Yosemite Ziplines & Adventure Ranch
- Tunnel View
- Nevada Fall & Liberty Cap
- Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
- Merced River Main fork
- Yosemite helicopter and sky diving tours.
- Glacier Point & El Capitan
- Olmsted Point
The distance of Lake Tahoe from San Francisco – 195 Miles (Approx 3.25 to 3.5 Hours)
Why Lake Tahoe – Lake Tahoe is one one the wonderful place to visit from San Francisco for nature lovers. A serene, calm place where you can enjoy your weekend getaway with your loved ones and that too it is one of the most pet-friendly places in Northern California. The breathtaking scenery of Lake Tahoe would amaze you and it is a summer and winter-friendly destination. This lake is formed by melted snow which is surrounded by enchanting mountains.
Things to do in Lake Tahoe – Must do in Lake Tahoe
- Heavenly Mountain Resort
- Emerald Bay State Park
- Northstar California Resort
- Alpine Meadows
- Sand Harbor
- King’s Beach State Recreation area.
- Lake Tahoe Balloons or Cruises.
The distance of Napa from San Francisco – 50 Miles (Approx 1 Hour)
Why Napa – Napa is one of the most beautiful wine regions to visit in the world. Famous for wineries and vineyards the sight of vineyards with rainbows is amazing here. Lots of sunshine, nature, exotic wines, and food are the top features of the Napa region. It is said that there are more than 300 wineries that are open for tastings. Being closer to the city, Napa is perfect for a day trip from San Francisco.
Things to do in Napa – Must do in Napa
- Winery and Brewery Tours
- Food & wine tastings
- Napa Valley Balloon tours
- Ride Napa Valley Wine Train
- Experience mud bath at Calistoga
- Walk around downtown Napa
- Silverado Trail
- Hike to Mt. Saint Helena & Linda Falls
- Visit Lake Berryessa
The distance of Sebastopol from San Francisco – 55 Miles (Approx 1 hour)
Why Sebastopol – Sebastopol has Bohemian small-town vibes and this region has many apple and plum orchards. Great food, wine, and art are the top features of Sebastopol. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Russian River, this region is known for its amazing fertile soil. A perfect agricultural town with artistic vibes.
Things to do in Sebastopol – Must do in Sebastopol
- Ragle Ranch Park
- Balletto Vineyards
- Ives Park
- Florence Avenue Trash Art
- The Barlow – culinary and arts center
- Laguna de Santa Rosa
- Taste local Gravenstein apples – first planted by Russian explorers
- Sebastopol Farmer’s market
PESCADERO & HALF MOON BAY
The distance of Pescadero & Half Moon Bay from San Francisco – 45 Miles (Approx 50 to 60 minutes)
Why Pescadero & Half Moon Bay – The drive to Pescadero & Half Moon Bay is very scenic from San Francisco as it passes from a bunch of neat virgin beaches, open rolling fields, small village-towns, and, small mountains. Coastal villages with beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, and state parks are the top features of this region. As it is very close to the city, Pescadero & Half Moon Bay are the perfect weekend out options from San Francisco.
Things to do in Pescadero & Half Moon Bay – Must do in Pescadero & Half Moon Bay
- Montara State Beach
- Pillar Point
- Downtown Half Moon Bay
- Pescadero State Beach
- Pescadero town
- Pigeon Point Lighthouse
- Spot elephant seals at Ano Nuevo State Park
- Swanton Berry Farm
- Half Moon Bay State Beaches
- Gray Whale Cove Trail
The distance Gilroy from San Francisco – 80 Miles (Approx. 1 hour 15 minutes)
Why Gilroy – Known as the Garlic capital of the world and it has a unique horticulture-based theme park. Known for gardens, agricultural products, wines, this place is like a perfect agricultural town. As garlic is the top crop of this region, you would find unique culinary delights made from garlic here. Garlic ice cream sounds very unique but you can taste it here. So if you are a foodie and farm lover, then do visit Gilroy with your family and friends as a weekend getaway from San Francisco.
Things to do in Gilroy – Must do in Gilroy
- Gilroy Gardens Family theme parks – spot some unique circus trees here
- Christmas Hill Park
- Gilroy Premium Outlet Mall
- Attend annual Garlic festival
- Shop unique garlic products
- Wine tours with wine tasting
- Try Garlic ice-cream
- Lumination festival
ANGEL ISLAND STATE PARK
The distance of Angel Island State Park from San Francisco – 6 to 7 miles
Why Angel Island State Park – Closest island to San Francisco from where you can enjoy the stunning views of this fog city. Not only this, but it is also having historical importance too with many military forts in this region. This island has 740 acres of pristine parklands, which include beaches, hiking trails, and picnic areas. You can also have superb views of Berkeley and Oakland apart from San Francisco. It is the largest natural island in the San Francisco bay area and is therefore included in places to visit near the San Francisco itinerary.
Things to do in Angel Island State Park – Must do in Angel Island State Park
- Angel Island State Park
- PIER 39
- Coit Tower
- US Immigration Station
- Fort McDowell Ruin
- Fort Reynolds
- Take Historical route & Ridge trail
ARMSTRONG REDWOOD STATE RESERVE – 22 Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
The distance of Armstrong Redwood State Reserve from San Francisco – 55 Miles (1 hour)
Why Armstrong Redwood State Reserve – The park is in a canyon just north of the Russian River and the town of Guerneville and has a wonderful collection of redwood trees. A temperate rainforest region that has a wonderful collection of redwood groves is closest to San Francisco city. The Russian River flows through this area, surrounded by enchanting hills. Here you can find ancient coast tallest redwood which are 500 – 1000 years old, having a diameter of 12 – 15 cm and 200 – 250 ft tall.
Things to do in Armstrong Redwood State Reserve – Must do in Armstrong Redwood State Reserve
- Spot the tallest tree
- The oldest tree
- The Icicle
- The Discovery Trail
- The Pioneer Nature Trail
- Tom King Camp
- Mannings Flat Camp
- Bullfrog Pond
SAUSALITO – Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
The distance Sausalito from San Francisco – 11 Miles (Approx 23 minutes)
Why Sausalito – A picturesque residential city in Marin county. Living in houseboats is quite famous here. Here you can feel artistic vibes and also this place was once a shipbuilding center in World War II.
Things to do in Sausalito – Must do in Sausalito
- Golden Bridge and Visa viewpoint
- The ferry ride from San Francisco to Sausalito.
- Shopping and waterfront restaurants.
- Fort Baker National Park and Bay Area Discovery Museum
- Day trip to Muir woods
- The scenic walk along Bridgeway
- Gabrielson Park
- Marin Headlands
SKYLINE BOULEVARD – Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
The distance of Skyline Boulevard from San Francisco – 38 Miles (Approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour)
Why Skyline Boulevard – A beautiful transport corridor that stretches along the Santa Cruz mountains. As it is slightly curved and a winding road, the drive is very scenic. So if you love scenic drives then drive across skyline Boulevard would truly enchant you for a perfect weekend road trip from San Francisco.
Things to do near Skyline Boulevard – Must do near Skyline Boulevard
- Stony Man Mountain Hike.
- Bear Mountain Ziplines.
- Mary’s Rock Summit Trail.
- River Hill Wine & Spirits
- Old Rag Mountain Hike
- Luray Caverns
- White Oak Canyon Trail
SONOMA VALLEY – Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
The distance of Sonoma Valley from San Francisco – 45 Miles (Approx 1 hour)
Why Sonoma Valley – A region which is blessed with wonderful nature where you can find mountains, forests, rivers, valleys, meadows, valleys, agricultural lands, coastal towns along with 55 miles of stunning Pacific Ocean coastline. Numerous state parks are located here and in other words, you can say it is a paradise for nature lovers. Therefore Sonoma valley must be included in your Bay area weekend adventures and perfect for short day trips from San Francisco during weekends or holidays.
Things to do in Sonoma Valley – Must do in Sonoma Valley
- Sonoma Coast State Park.
- Safari West.
- Charles M Schulz Museum & Research.
- Salt Point State Park.
- Jack London State historic park
- Sonoma Traintown railroad.
- Sonoma plaza
- Point Reyes National Seashore.
- Bothe Napa Valley State Park.
- Sonoma Canopy tours
- Lake Sonoma, Tolay Lake, and Spring Lake
- Mount Saint Helena, Mount Hood, and Taylor Mountain.
- Goat Rock beach, Check more on by clicking here –
STINSON BEACH – Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
The distance of Stinson beach from San Francisco – 24 Miles (Approx 50 Minutes)
Why Stinson beach – A 25 to 50 minutes drive from Golden Gate Bridge this beach is known to be one of the cleanest beaches in the state. Most of the time this beach is surrounded by fog and so is a popular day trip from San Francisco.
Things to do in Stinson beach – Must do in Stinson beach
- Stinson and Upton Beach
- Bolinas Ridge
- Muir Woods National Monument
- Muir Beach and Mount Tamalpais
- Dipsea and Steep Ravine Trail
- Bolinas Lagoon and Bolinas Ridge
- Matt Davis Trail
SAN JOSE – Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
The distance of San Jose from San Francisco –Miles (Approx 50 Minutes)
Why San Jose – The capital of the famous “Silicon Valley” of the world. Known for high tech innovations, the Mediterranean climate, cultural activities. It is the largest city in northern California. It is said that there are so many attractions in San Jose that fun never ends.
Things to do in San Jose – Must do in San Jose
- Winchester Mystery House
- The Tech Interactive
- Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
- Municipal Rose Garden
- Happy Hollow Park and Zoo
- Santana Row
- Children Discovery Museum
- Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph
- The Tech Interactive
- SAP Center
- San Jose Museum of Art
MY MUSICAL JOURNEY DURING CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP
So let me know your favorite destination from 22 Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip or what would you prefer for Bay area weekend adventures.
SOME GENERAL TIPS FOR – 22 Places To Visit Near San Francisco On Weekend Road trip
- Check the weather before planning for any trip as most of the places are natural.
- These places can be enjoyed in summer for sunny summer escapes and wintery for skiing slopes. All 4 seasons are worth beautiful here.
- Some of the national or state parks in the US need approval or permit before visiting. So check the information before heading towards it.
RELATED READS – If you are on a USA trip then read these guides for
- Visiting America For The First Time – Things To Know About America Before Going
- East Coast Road Trip.
- Visit Niagara Falls.
- New York City Tour.
- Washington City Tour.
- Visit Philly (Philadelphia).
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