San Francisco dwellers are sometimes prone to thinking that there isn’t a world beyond the 7x7. It’s high time we busted that myth. But since we know that separation anxiety may set in if you’re away from the city for more than a few hours, we’ve thrown together a couple simple San Francisco day trips—baby steps, here—to get you out and about. You can explore any of these Bay Area destinations and still be safely back in your urban paradise by nightfall.
San Francisco is conveniently located just over an hour drive from some of the best wine producers in the world, and most are open for tastings. Napa Valley is astonishingly beautiful in its own right, but looks even better with a glass of vino in hand.
Head up for a day tour of the cellars or to find some expert advice on wine pairings. You should also consider visiting the town of Calistoga, known for its natural hot spring pools and mud baths.
Napa makes for an excellent day trip, but if you happen to fall in love with the wines, vines and amazing restaurants, it makes for the perfect weekend getaway as well.
Just across the Golden Gate Bridge lays 240 acres of old growth coastal redwood groves, with some trees close to 1,000 years old. There are hiking trails that weave throughout the park to get the best up-close views of the flora and fauna. You can take the ferry to Sausalito and then catch the shuttle to Muir Woods to make it even more of a scenic adventure. Plus, parking can be a huge hassle on weekends. Muir Woods can be even foggier than the Outer Sunset, so bundle up.
Santa Cruz is the perfect little beach town, and retains the 1960s hippie vibe that’s been lost just a smidgen due to the gentrification of San Francisco. It’s a great destination for surfing, hiking or laying at the beach. There’s no guarantee of fog-free days, but sun’s more likely than at Ocean Beach. You can also reconnect with your inner child at the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk.
This island in the San Francisco Bay is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the skyline of your beloved city. On a clear day, you can get 360-degree views of San Francisco, the Marin Headlands, and Mount Tamalpais. The island has some unsettling history as a U.S. Bureau of Immigration inspection and detention facility from 1910-1940, which has now been designated a National Historic Landmark. During your visit you can learn about the history of the detention facility at the island’s museum or enjoy the grounds of the state park—an ideal place for camping, riding bikes, hiking and picnicking.
A ferry runs from San Francisco to Angel Island, and all fares include park admission.
Half Moon Bay
Down the peninsula from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is a quaint seaside town along a beautiful stretch of coast. Its tiny size and smattering of shops and restaurants makes it perfect for a few hours of relaxing escape from city life. You can go horseback riding at Sea Horse Ranch, wine tasting at any number of wineries in the area, enjoy the Bay’s rugged beaches and chow down at your choice of good eats on the town’s Main Street. Try the fish tacos or clam chowder at the Flying Fish Grill!