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33 Best Day Trips From San Francisco in 2023


San Francisco is one of those magical cities – a bucket list holiday destination in the US, guaranteed to make you feel like you are stepping into a movie set. Whether heading to the curvy Lombard Street or museum hopping between the Palace of Fine Arts and California Academy of Science, there are many things to do in San Francisco.

And while it doesn’t have a quaint downtown area, instead having super-sized skyscrapers and a constant buzz, San Fran is an exciting place to visit. San Fran is a brilliant spot in Northern California, and we can see why you want to visit so much. So with all this considered, why would you like to leave, even just for a day trip? These 33 best-day trips from San Francisco will answer that for us.

33 Best Day Trips from San Francisco

Top Day Trips From San Francisco

If you have more than 72 hours in San Francisco, a day trip should definitely be on your cards. The city is ideally situated to provide you with a launchpad to explore the surrounding area. You could head off to the Santa Cruz Mountains or nip to the Golden Gate Bridge on an extended day trip. There are just so many options when it comes to day-tripping from San Fran. These are your top 33 choices.

Planning Your Trip To San Francisco Right Now?

Below are some of the top tours for Day Trips from San Francisco. Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting California!

Top Day Trips and Tours from San Francisco:

1. Monterey

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Monterey

What do sardines and John Steinbeck have in common? Monterey is a coastal city south of San Fran. Monterey is a perfect day trip from San Francisco, offering a more compact feel than its larger neighbor. The city is a picture of coastal living, with cutesy and ever-so-slightly-tacky gift shops and plenty of seafood restaurants. Its best attractions are the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Old Fisherman’s Wharf, always alive with over-the-water activities and cultural events.

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Monterey Bay Aquarium

At just a 2-hour drive each way, it is a definitely feasible day trip if you rent a car. You’ll be driving through the San Francisco Bay Area and have a pick and mix of little waterfront towns and cities to choose from as stop-off points. This pretty little seaside spot is an ideal addition to an ocean lover’s itinerary and anyone who wants a bit of cheesy seafront living for a day.

Make sure to check out our post on the Best Things to do in Monterey for more ideas.

Distance from San Francisco: 2-hour drive

2. Sonoma

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Sonoma Wine

Sonoma is a historic city to day trip to and even more tempting for any wine lovers since it’s in the midst of the wine-tasting region of Sonoma Valley. Colonial buildings strew the historic downtown, and there’s even the Mission San Francisco Solano for some religious history. However, equally, there are over 10 wine-tasting houses within walking distance of the city center if you’d prefer to enjoy some vino. Sonoma is the ideal blend between history and wine and a beautiful spot for a day trip. It is just an hour’s drive north of San Fran or a 2.5-hour bus ride if you’d prefer to have a drink while visiting.

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Sonoma
Photo Credit Visit California

Sonoma isn’t just an adult day trip either; the city has Sonoma Train Town Railroad, an amusement park with a miniature train taking guests to a model town. You can quickly turn this destination into a family-friendly day trip.

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour’s drive or 2.5-hours by public transport

3. Sausalito

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Sausalito
Photo Credit Visit California

Sausalito is a dreamy beach community and a vibrant spot for a day trip if you stay in San Fran for a few days. The most impressive part of the city is its neighborhood of floating homes and brightly colored artwork. You visit Sausalito to admire it and just walk around the city center for a day. Its architectural and painting views are spectacular. As the icing on the cake, Sausalito also has beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay Area and its iconic bridge. And if you fancy an adventure, you can catch the ferry across to visit.

San Francisco visitors are likely day-tripping to the Golden Gate Bridge anyway, so Sausalito is the easiest detour. You can easily combine it with day trips to the bridge and Golden Gate National Recreation Area, especially if you want to drop in for something to eat, as Sausalito has some excellent waterfront eateries.

Distance from San Francisco: 30-minutes by ferry

4. Oakland

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Oakland
Photo Credit Visit California

Sitting tucked in amongst various neighborhoods in East Bay, Oakland is the largest East Bay city in the San Francisco Bay Area. For many, it is the ‘Brooklyn’ to San Fran’s ‘New York’ appeal. The city across the water is San Francisco’s perfect counterpart, offering a beautiful bridge and a more trendy vibe. Oakland has street art murals, Victorian architecture, art deco theaters, and a ton of restaurants and bars. And the nightlife and hospitality scene is beyond thriving.

You can catch the ferry directly to Jack London Square, a substantial glitzy marina with a beautiful waterfront promenade. If you want somewhere you can visit using public transport on a day trip from San Fran city center, Oakland is ideal. No car is necessary.

Distance from San Francisco: 13-minutes by ferry

5. Alcatraz Island

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Alcatraz Island
Photo Credit Visit California/Max Whittaker

Alcatraz Island is a day trip that appears on almost every itinerary for San Fran. But don’t let its mainstream allure put you off. This notorious prison was once home to some of the most feared criminals in US history, including Al Capone. Surrounded by fierce waves, rumored sharks, and intense surveillance, escape from this island prison was near impossible and almost always fatal. Luckily, this prison is retired from duty and is now accessible as a tourist destination and fascinating museum. Just jump on a regular ferry, and you’ll be able to explore – guided by an info-packed audio guide,

The ferry takes less than an hour, and you’ll travel parallel to the Golden Gate, so expect brilliant views. Tickets are a little pricey for the day tour ferry, entrance, and audio tour, totaling around $35+ per person. However, the experience is well worth it. Alcatraz Island is notorious and absolutely famous in criminal history.

Distance from San Francisco: 1-hour

6. Lake Tahoe

best day trips from san francisco lake tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a stunning lake split in half by the Nevada and California border. As the largest alpine lake in North America, it is a raging hotspot for watersports from spring to fall. While in winter, the mountains that back the lake become highly sought after for skiing and snowboarding. There are so many things to do in Lake Tahoe, especially if you love outdoor activities. For a day of skiing or watersports, Lake Tahoe is a firm favorite of San Fran’s day trip options. And if you fancy a flutter with gambling, it’s one of the most accessible places to cross the Nevada border to reach legal casinos.

best day trips from san francisco lake tahoe casinos

Lake Tahoe is 3.5 hours away from San Fran by car, cutting through Sacramento and Tahoe National Forest or Eldorado National Forest. If you can insure multiple drivers on a rental car, this is a feasible day trip when you rotate driving time between people. And if you set off early enough, you’ll be able to enjoy a full day of outdoor activities.

Distance from San Francisco: 3.5-hours by car

7. Berkeley

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Berkeley
Photo Credit Visit California/Bongo

Berkeley is a hub of education and academic prestige. So if you fancy visiting one of the most prestigious homes of education in the US, this is a perfect day trip from San Francisco city center. As you would expect, there are many museums in Berkeley, including the Berkeley Natural History Museum and Lawrence Hall of Science. Berkeley Art Museum is also well worth a visit, and there are some beautiful parks where you can pick up a book and embrace your inner academia. The city is full of culture and an underrated day trip from San Fran. Berkeley is for you if you fancy experiencing some of the academic aesthetic yet venturing off the beaten path.

Berkeley is also easy to visit from San Fran, taking just 20 minutes by car or 45 minutes by public transport. Easy.

Distance from San Francisco: 20-minutes by car or 45-minutes by public transport

8. Reno

best day trips from san francisco reno sign

Reno is another cross-border option and a brilliant chance to venture into Nevada while staying in San Fran. Who wouldn’t want to squeeze two states into one trip? And by car, Reno is one of the closest places in Nevada, taking just 3.5 hours to reach one way. If you have someone to share the driving with, you can easily rotate driving time and squeeze a trip to Reno into your itinerary.

best day trips from san francisco reno downtown

Enough on that, though; why should you actually visit in the first place? First, it has the nickname ‘the biggest little city in the world,’ which is an appreciative nod to its assortment of attractions. These attractions include the Nevada Museum of Art, the National Automobile Museum, and the Fleischmann Planetarium. Reno is also considered a more budget-friendly alternative to Vegas, so if you fancy a day trip of partying (no alcohol included unless you pick a designated river), it is ideal. We have a whole guide dedicated to the best things to do in Reno!

Distance from San Francisco: 3.5 hours by car one-way

9. Turtle Bay Exploration Park

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Visit California/Myles McGuinness

The 300-acre Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a beautiful not-for-profit day-tripping spot. You’ll be surrounded by forest and scenic river trails, but with the option for indoor attractions as well. The park has a museum, botanical garden, wildlife center, and forest camp. If you fancy a day trip with everything in one place, Turtle Bay Exploration Park has all the convenience of varied attractions and activities in one spot. It is a relatively lengthy 3-hour and 20-minute drive from San Fran, yet the amount of things to do in the park justifies the trip. You pay a single entrance fee and get access to everything.

If you have more than one person insured on your rental car, we’d suggest driving to Turtle Bay Exploration Park via Sacramento. Sacramento makes a fabulous stopover point. This drive is a bit longer at 4 hours, but combining two attractions in one trip is well worth it.

Distance from San Francisco: 3-4 hours depending on your route

10. Big Sur

best day trips from san francisco big sur

If you’ve already researched the best road trips from San Francisco, you’ll know all about Big Sur. This stretch of central Californian coastline is one of the most dramatic drives you can make in the US, with highways cuts into the cliffside overlooking beach after beach and skipping between coastal towns. If you can hack it, the 4.5-hour drive to the Big Sur Lookout is one of the most popular day trip destinations. You’ll be looking at a 9-hour round trip, but the dramatic views will make it all worthwhile. Skirting the sublime edge of the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, you’ll be passing the most scenic scenery in the state.

best day trips from san francisco big sur bridge

The best things to do en route are visiting Gamboa Point, Bixby Creek Bridge, and hiking the Partington Cove trail. Henry Miller Memorial Library is another brilliant attraction on the way, with regular readings and live music at the author’s old residence.

Distance from San Francisco: 4.5 hours by car

11. Drive the Skyline Boulevard to the Silicon Valley Vista Point

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Skyline Boulevard Fort Funston

Skyline Boulevard is the most scenic drive from the San Fran city center. For anyone, a little put off by the length of a road trip to Big Sur, Skyline Boulevard is the best option and is just a 2-hour round trip – much easier than 9 hours straight on the road. Attractions along the way include Pulgas Water Temple, Filoli Historic House & Garden, and tons of nature preserves. You’ll be hopping in and out and seeing many different things. Finishing at the renowned Silicon Valley Vista Point, this mini road trip is a bitesize introduction to the nature surrounding San Francisco.

Take advantage of a road trip experience in northern California. California is the state of all road trips, so it is exciting to rent a car and work some wheels. This is a top San Fran day trip if you want an entry-level road trip experience.

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour by car

12. Sebastopol

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Sebastopol
Photo Credit Visit California/David H. Collier

Sebastopol is one of the most unusually named day trips from San Francisco. Some say its name originated from a bar fight likened to a siege in the Crimean War, but honestly, it’s a bit of a mystery. Another claim to fame it has internationally is being a film set location in 13 Reasons Why – a massive Netflix hit in recent years. It is a city for tourists to enjoy the wine tasting in Sonoma Valley and quirky attractions like Florence Avenue’s Trash Art and the West Country Museum. Walkable and full of character, it is an excellent alternative to more mainstream Sonoma.

Sebastopol is an hour and 15 minutes drive from San Fran or 2.5 hours by public transport. This day trip is easily squeezed into a half or full-day experience

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 15 minutes by car or 2.5 hours by public transport.

13. Pescadero

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Pescadero State Beach

This tiny town south of San Fran is somewhere you probably wouldn’t even think to hover over on a map, let alone organize as one of your day trips. So, what exactly makes this spot so unique? Aside from the much-loved Duarte’s Tavern (a local bright red restaurant), the town’s access to the Sequoia Audubon Trail attracts the most visitors. This trail is flat and easy to manage, even with young children, but it has unrivaled bird watching and beautiful tide pools. There are other nearby trails, including Pescadero Marsh Trail and a hike to the Historic Nunziati Trout Ponds. Pescadero is set in some of the most beautiful yet lesser-visited nature preserves and has some classic scenery.

It’s a simple drive an hour south of the city to get there. This is one of the shortest day trips from San Fran, and while you’ll need a car, booking a rental for a day is easy.

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour by car

14. Santa Cruz

Day Trips From San Francisco Pacific ocean views from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Everyone has heard of Santa Cruz. We’ll hold our hands up and say that you should book an overnight stay to get the most out of your visit. But if you only have a day trip, you can condense your trip into just a few activities. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the highlight, and this amusement park has some fantastic rides dotted along its mile of sandy beach. For a carefree coastal getaway, Santa Cruz really hits the spot. Remember to visit the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, one of the quirkiest attractions near San Fran.

Just 1.5 hours away from San Fran by car, Santa Cruz is an easy day trip logistics-wise. While if you do need to take public transport, it is still feasible as just a 2.5-hour trip.

Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 hours by car or 2.5 hours by public transport

15. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

best day trips from san francisco point lobos

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a place of real beauty with many fabulous attractions within park boundaries. These attractions include Sea Lion Cove, where you can admire loads of sunbathing sea lions from a beautiful vantage point. If you want a nature reserve that offers more encounter-like experiences, Point Lobos provides more than just nature trails. Other animals you can spot are sea otters and seals – Point Lobos is like an ethical free-range zoo. Bring binoculars and a camera and enjoy a full day out amongst wildlife.

best day trips from san francisco big sur point lobos

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is just a 2-hour and 20-minute drive from San Fran. This is a feasible and enjoyable day trip option, especially if you love animals and having wild encounters.

Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours and 20 minutes by car

16. Los Gatos

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Los Gatos Vasona Park

Los Gatos is one of the shortest day trips from San Francisco. Named ‘the cats’ after the bobcats that once skirted the outskirts of the Bay Area, Los Gatos is a final outpost before suburbia reaches the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. It is a pleasant area to explore on foot, with Vasona Lake County Park, a handful of wineries, and many Victorian-era homes and architecture. In short, Los Gatos is a lesser-visited day trip for tourists and an incredible hybrid of trendy and purely wholesome. Los Gatos is that spot if you want to take aesthetic photos and grab a coffee at a family-friendly cafe.

Just an hour away from San Fran by car, this is one of the most convenient day trips from the city center. You’ll likely have to drive, but organizing with many rental car companies is still manageable.

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour by car

17. San Jose

best day trips from san francisco san jose

San Jose is cool, and there’s no point denying it. The city is known as a hub of technology and development. While it was home to the world’s first radio broadcasting station, it continues to provide cutting-edge tech developments. You can also visit the first broadcasting station, and Mount Hamilton has the world’s third-largest optical refracting telescope on display. Of course, you’ll want to visit Silicon Valley. The historic downtown area has other attractions, too, though, like Winchester Mystery House. There are so many things to do in San Jose.

best day trips from san francisco san jose cathedral

Aside from all its attractions, San Jose is just a short drive from San Fran. You can be in the city center in 30 minutes if you drive – which is brilliant day trip travel time in this guide.

Distance from San Francisco: 30 minutes by car or an hour by train

18. Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Day Trips From San Francisco Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Fancy going horseback riding or hiking across a 1,400-acre reserve with giant redwood trees? Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is an incredible day trip from San Fran. There are 6 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, and you’ll be hiking or riding through fir and redwood forests. Of course, this day trip attracts horseback riders and nature lovers. However, seeing redwood trees on a day trip from San Francisco is also ideal. It is the one of the closest redwood sites to San Fran city center and can be reached in just 1 hour by car – dreamy.

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour by car

19. Mount Tamalpais State Park

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Mount Tamalpais

Mount Tamalpais State Park proves that you don’t need national parks to have a fantastic time in nature. State parks are the next best thing, and sometimes, even better. When visiting San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais State Park has gorgeous redwood groves and a 2,571-foot mountain with panoramic views. Mount Tamalpais State Park has hiking and biking trails and is a firm favorite for outdoor exploration from San Francisco. If you love hiking trails, get your hiking boots and head off for a full day of excitement.

Mount Tamalpais State Park is just a 50-minute drive away. It is best for those who want ridge and mountain walks as, while it does have some redwoods, they are few and far between.

Distance from San Francisco: 50 minutes by car or 1 hour 40 minutes by public transport

20. Sierra Nevada Mountains

Day Trips From San Francisco Sierra Nevada Mountains

The Sierra Nevada Mountains are one of the most ‘wow’ day trips from San Francisco. The mountain range extends over 250 miles and stretches to Los Angeles, where you’ll find the highest mountains. The mountains are famous as a vast area with plenty of sub-sections, including national parks like Yosemite. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are where to head on a day trip from San Francisco for an ultimate hiking, mountain biking, or climbing excursion. You can book a guided tour or just head there yourself by renting a car.

Where you visit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains depends on your preferences, as different areas have different activities and benefits. As a general rule, allow at least 4 hours one way to drive to the mountain range’s most popular destinations. And book an organized tour to avoid spending hours driving.

Distance from San Francisco: 4 hours by car

21. Point Reyes National Seashore

Day Trips From San Francisco Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore is by no means a measly-sized preserve. The park is a whopping 71,000 acres in size and is just a 2-hour drive from San Francisco. It’s good it is so close because you may return just to see things you missed out on the first time. Point Reyes National Seashore is home to a massive colony of elephant seals. It is one of the best wildlife spotting sites near San Francisco.

Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours by car

22. Yosemite National Park

best day trips from san francisco yosemite

You will definitely already know Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is well worth a long travel day, but probably not so much if you drive. The journey from San Francisco to the main visitor center is nearly 5 hours by car, which is challenging, even by US standards, where everything is far apart.

best day trips from san francisco yosemite national park

There’s an easy way around that, though: to book a guided tour. This way, you’ll enjoy all the highlights like Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, and Half Dome without pushing yourself too much while driving. Some may call you crazy, but we say the world belongs to the brave.

Distance from San Francisco: 5 hours by car

23. Steep Ravine Trail

For those with a sense of adventure and wanting a hiking trail so varied it feels like an obstacle course, Steep Ravine Trail in Mount Tamalpais State Park is the way forward. You’ll traverse everything from wooden bridges to rough-cut ladders and past windy waterfall-side paths. And the whole time, you’ll have stunning old-growth redwoods to keep you content with atmospheric backdrops. This 1.5-mile trail is a beautiful way to spend an hour or two.

Distance from San Francisco: 55 minutes by car or 2.5 hours by public transport

24. Stinson Beach

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is beautiful, one of the best beaches in California for natural beauty. The beach snakes along a dramatic peninsula, backed by a same-name down with sweet local shops, including a surf and kayak rental store. Regarding beach days, Stinson Beach is the most spacious option and a highly convenient choice – just an hour away by car. Its waves get pretty choppy, so it is definitely more of a surfer spot than a swimming spot, but it’s perfect for surfers or beach bums.

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour by car or 2 hours by public transport

25. Angel Island State Park

best day trips from san francisco angel island

You can’t beat a visit to Angel Island State Park for the best views of the San Francisco skyline. This ferry-accessible island is one of the top day trips from San Francisco. It is covered in hiking and biking trails, with just one main road looping the island’s circumference. Landing at the main ferry landing, rent a bike, and you’ll be able to explore in half a day. Treat yourself to a snack at the Angel Island Cafe when you are done, and stop at beaches and the Fort McDowell ruins along your way.

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 20 minutes by public transport (including a 45-minute ferry)

26. Carmel by the Sea

best day trips from san francisco carmel by the sea

Carmel by the Sea is best known for fairytale cottages and underwater experiences. Despite its city status, it has a seaside town vibe, and the cottages sprinkled throughout the city give it a whimsical feel at random turns. The most famous cottages are the Hansel and Gretel Cottages on Torres Street. However, you could spend hours going on a search for the prettiest. And when you aren’t doing that, there’s the white sand beach and local shops to enjoy.

best day trips from san francisco carmel beach

There are many more things to do in Carmel by the Sea, so check out our guide on the best activities for proper inspiration. Despite being 2 hours from San Fran by car, Carmel by the Sea is one of the best day trips for a beach day with a fairytale twist.

Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours by car

27. Natural Bridges State Beach

Best Day Trips From San Francisco Natural Bridges State Beach

Natural Bridges State Beach is a beautiful spot for a novelty beach day with, you guessed it, natural bridges made from its rock formations. At low tide, you can get up close to these formations. But Natural Bridges State Beach is also a fantastic day trip for wildlife watching – with chances of spotting whales, starfish, butterflies, various sea birds, and cute little seals. Definitely plan to go rock pooling (another reason to visit at low tide) and bring a camera to document your encounters.

Natural Bridges State Beach is a fun day trip with a bit of a wildlife-watching twist; even David Attenborough would be proud of you for this day trip from San Francisco.

Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 hours from San Francisco

28. Muir Woods National Monument

best day trips from san francisco muir woods

Muir Woods National Monument is a huge forest famous for its giant redwoods. Who doesn’t love redwoods? And at this park, you can spot them in their hundreds. Stop by the visitor center for some extra information and guidance on the best routes and sights. There are some wonderful hiking trails, with some routes even suitable for strollers.

At just 45 minutes away from San Fran by car, Muir Woods National Monument is an easy day trip to organize. You’ll even drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, which is totally dream-worthy.

Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes by car or 2 hours by public transport

29. Napa Valley

best day trips from san francisco napa valley

Napa Valley is adjacent to Sonoma Valley and a rival for wineries. The rolling hills are famous for vineyard tours on horseback, and you can usually spot a hot air balloon ride overhead. Napa Valley is well worth a visit, and you can book organized wine tours to make the most of the experience. The last thing you need is a DUI, so play your cards right and take the transfer option.

best day trips from san francisco napa valley vineyard

What is the difference between Sonoma and Napa? Napa Valley is a little more exclusive and so pricier. It is the luxe option. And at about 1.5 hours away from San Francisco by car, not far when it comes to day trips.

Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 hours

30. Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park is one of the best day trips from San Francisco if you want a 5,242-acre park of hiking trails, dramatic sandstone climbing opportunities, and plenty of forests – including redwood trees. The park is just outside the ever-so-popular Los Gatos and is an easy drive from San Fran. You can check out one of the main hiking routes or try some climbing if you are experienced enough and have the gear. For a fun challenge, it’s a scenic place and a way to escape the city center.

Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 hours by car

31. Golden Gate Bridge

best day trips from san francisco golden gate bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge might be one of the most popular things to do in the city. In fact, photographing Golden Gate Bridge is what most people prioritize when visiting. The iconic Art Deco suspension bridge is a characteristic bright red color and spans 4,200 feet. To make a day trip out of it, you can walk, cycle, or drive across – preferably do all three. Walking is best if you can walk for 20 minutes in sometimes windy conditions. It is one of the best hiking trails in and around San Francisco, and if you are lucky, you can often see whales from the bridge.

best day trips from san francisco golden gate bridge

Getting to the Golden Gate Bridge takes just 50 minutes from San Fran city center by public transport or 20 minutes by car. However, we’ve added it on as a day trip because you should allow at least 30 minutes to walk across the bridge while taking photos and another 20 minutes to head up to one of the viewpoints. If you decide to walk back, you’ll soon spend over half a day on this attraction. And that’s without exploring Marin Headlands.

Distance from San Francisco: 20 minutes by car or 50 minutes by public transport

32. Half Moon Bay

best day trips from san francisco half moon bay

Half Moon Bay is another firm favorite for incredible day trips from San Francisco. The small city looks unassuming but is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the region. Its string of sandy beaches is connected by the California Coastal trailhead. This stunning hike spans 1,200 miles but can be completed in a manageable snippet. If you visit Half Moon Bay and fancy a coastal walk, try the California Coastal trailhead by Manhattan Beach to Pillar Point Beach. This 2.5-hour hike is much more suitable for a day trip and will showcase the best of the city’s beaches.

Getting to Half Moon Bay is an easy 45 minutes by car. You just head south along the Cabrillo Highway, and voila, Half Moon Bay rears its beautiful head.

Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes by car

33. Santa Cruz Mountains

The Santa Cruz Mountains are our final addition to this guide and easily one of the best day trips from San Francisco. The mountain range stretches from the urban regions south of San Jose – like Los Gatos – and down towards Monterey Bay. The Santa Cruz Mountains will be dreamy if you like serene natural environments. The range has a heavy scattering of beautiful redwood trees, only briefly broken up by cleared land for wineries or the odd hiking trail. You can explore on foot or by mountain bike; the choice is yours.

The mountains are 1 hour and 40 minutes away from the city center of San Fran, so an easy drive if you rent a car. Plus, the route takes you past trendy Los Gatos and the scenic coastal towns along San Francisco Bay. The Santa Cruz Mountains have been a definite winner in the great outdoors for some time.

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 40 minutes by car

Best Day Trips from San Francisco: FAQs

Day Trips From San Francisco FAQ Santa Cruz Wharf

How fabulous do those 33-day trip ideas look? Your options are excitingly endless if you have a few days or more in San Fran. You could be admiring redwoods, visiting island prisons, or riding horseback through rolling hills before wine tasting. Before you choose any of those incredible activities, though, check out these top FAQs.

What is a day trip from San Francisco?

There are over 30 popular day trips from San Francisco, including Napa Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Muir Woods National Monument.

What other places to visit near San Francisco?

You could visit Carmel by the Sea, Napa Valley, Yosemite National Park, Angel Island, or Point Reyes National Seashore.

Can you do a day trip to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco?

Yes, Lake Tahoe is a feasible day trip from San Francisco. However, we’d recommend staying overnight as there is much to do.

Where can I travel for one day?

There are more than 30 places near San Francisco that you could travel to for a day, including Angel Island, San Jose, and Mount Tamalpais State Park.

To Conclude

Fun Day Trips From San Francisco Amusement park

San Fran is ideal for sightseeing and exploring different attractions. However, as you can see, it is worth branching out with day trips. You could head to a nature preserve (keep your eyes out for native animals like the San Francisco garter snake) or head to an amusement park overlooking a sandy beach. You could even switch things up entirely with a visit to a different city, like San Jose. Anyone visiting San Francisco should seriously consider taking a day trip – especially if they stay in the city for more than 72 hours.

Regarding where to stay in San Francisco, you’ll be thrilled with the number of boutique hotels and scenic neighborhoods. San Fran is our bread and butter, so check out our existing resources to bag the right place for you. Accommodation and neighborhood are two massively influential factors that can really shape your trip, so remember to research them too, not just day trips for your itinerary.

Plan Your Next Trip To San Francisco With These Resources



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