Here’s how to make the most of your weekends!
We love San Francisco for its countless activities to enjoy everywhere you go. But anytime there’s a long weekend or a free day, we’re quite well-located to check out some neighboring California gems. Be sure to put these day trips on your to-do list for the next time you want to get out of the City and into nature. And don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom, where you’ll find a helpful map showing exactly where each of these awesome spots is located. All time estimates in the article are for car travel.
Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours
Volanic eruptions created this unique national park south of San Francisco. With over 30 miles of trails, it’s a great spot to keep going back to. You can do a strenuous hike that takes you through rocky terrain, or an easy walk through the grasslands. There are also opportunities for rock climbing, bird watching, and camping.
Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour 15 minutes
This lesser-known gem in Bolinas is a real treat. The 40ft fall is a beautiful creek that cascades over the bluff and onto Wildcat Beach below. During its heaviest flow, it can sometimes reach up to 25 feet wide.
You’ll need to hike 7 miles (so it’s 14 miles roundtrip) but it’s mostly flat, wildly scenic, and, of course, well worth it. The trail starts at Point Reyes National Seashore where you can park free of charge and begin the hike at Palomarin Trailhead. You’ll want to bring snacks, plenty of water, your swimsuit and a camera for this adventure.
Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour
If you’re a wine lover, this is the tour for you. Painted Ladies Tour Company has an adorable fleet of multicolored Volkswagen buses that can take you on a variety of tours around the city, but this one has really caught our eye! Their Sonoma wine country tour is the #1 rated wine tour in San Francisco. Up to 8 people can take an intimate trip out to wine country and taste a variety of delicious wines, take beautiful photos, and make memories.
Distance from San Francisco: 30 minutes
If you haven’t heard of Filoli, you have got to add this spectacular historical estate to your list. According to its website, the Filoli property covers 654 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The house and garden themselves cover 16 immaculate acres, having been beautifully maintained for over a century.
Filoli’s gardens are unique in that they bloom all year round, thanks to seasonal planting and carefully planned maintenance by the estate’s 14 full-time horticulturalists. Over 75,000 spring bulbs are planted each year.
5. Muir Woods
Distance from San Francisco: 40 minutes
We’re extremely lucky to live so close to the largest and tallest trees in the world. If you don’t make it out to see them once in a while, then what are you doing in California? These old growth coastal redwoods are breathtaking, and most have been there between 600 and 800 years.
Distance from San Francisco:
Mount Tamalpais State Park is a gorgeous hiking destination just an hour outside of the city. Cruise across the Golden Gate Bridge and you’ll find panoramic views, grassy meadows, and magical forests in this captivating park with plenty of rolling hills and trails for hiking.
Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour 10 minutes
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a photographer, or just a fan of cool, old things, you should check out this old boat up the coast from the City. The S.S. Point Reyes is an old abandoned fishing boat that’s been stranded on a sand bar in Inverness for several decades. There’s an old dirt trail that takes you near it, and even a small picnic area, but depending on the water level that day, it may be more or less difficult to see it up close. Bring your best waterproof shoes and be sure to take pictures of this awesome Inverness shipwreck!
8. McWay Falls
Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours 45 minutes
If you’re planning a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway, then you’ll undoubtedly be heading to one of the most recognizable coastal waterfalls in the world. McWay Falls may be incredibly popular, but it’s for good reason. Onlookers will be able to view the 80-foot fall plunging from the granite cliff into the Pacific below. The beach, Saddle Rock and Mcway Falls within Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are strictly off-limits, but the panoramic views from the Overlook Trail and higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1 will take your breath away.
Distance from San Francisco: 25 minutes
Gerbode Valley is an absolutely spectacular place to go hiking, and it takes less than half an hour to get there. If you’re looking for a challenging hike, be sure to try the Gerbode Valley Loop Trail. With 900 feet of climbing, you’ll work up a sweat while enjoying expansive views of the surrounding greenery.
10. Cataract Falls
Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour
Marin County is home to some of the best hikes in the Bay Area, and Cataract Falls doesn’t disappoint. The entire hiking route is dotted with cascading waterfalls, so you’ll make a new discovery around every corner, which is why it’s one of the most popular hikes to do in Marin.
11. Wilder Ranch
Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour 20 minutes
Wilder Ranch State Park, just a few minutes south of Davenport, is a 7,000 acre ranch from the late 1800s converted into a museum and nature preserve. This historic site sits along the Santa Cruz County coastline and is home to spectacular views, hikes, sea caves, and wildlife.
Featured Image: @nk_aroundtheworld via Instagram