There are many fantastic weekend trips from San Francisco if you plan to explore the Bay area more. Not only can they be afforded by all types of travelers, but they can also be accessed easily.

Hike in the redwoods or amidst rugged cliffs, enjoy plummeting falls, go snowshoeing in snow, relax on a beach or explore museums; there are many lovely weekend getaways from bay area.

Read this comprehensive post which includes places within a 3 and 4-hour drive from San Francisco, or if you are looking for romantic getaways near San Francisco to spend a relaxing weekend with your loved one.



  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 10 miles
  • Duration – 30 minutes

Are you looking for one of the easy weekend trips from San Franciso? Visit Sausalito, a lovely Marin County town next to the protected Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Take the famous SF-Sausalito ferry ride that sails through the historic Richardson Bay houseboat community to reach Sausalito.


Visit the Point Bonita Lighthouse to take in the beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and spectacular ocean vistas.

Check out the Marine Mammal Center, which specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating various marine animals, including seals, sea lions, whales and dolphins. Learn about how these mammals are treated and released back to their natural habitat.

bay area weekend getaways for families

For a lovely sunbathing weekend, unwind on the well-maintained shores of Stinson Beach and enjoy the distant views of the rugged cliffs of Point Reyes National Seashore. Go swimming or try Kayaking in the calm waters of Stinson Beach.

Hiking enthusiasts can check out the SCA and Slacker hills for one of the best hiking excursions in the Bay area.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 30 miles
  • Duration – 1 hour

San Mateo County’s Half Moon Bay is another popular destination for weekend trips from San Francisco. The city derives its name from its crescent moon shape and attracts locals for its tranquil.


Go swimming or relax on the two-mile sandy shores of the Half Moon Bay State Beach, one of the local’s favourites and enjoy the fantastic sunset views. 

Visit Mavericks, a famous Surfing spot in Half Moon Bay, located on the North end of the Bay at the Princeton-by-the-sea village. Sign-up for Surfing lessons if you are an avid surfer.

One of the best ways to explore Half Moon Bay is to bike along the 4.7-mile Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail, which offers spectacular ocean bluffs between Pillar point harbour and poplar avenue. 

weekend trips from San Francisco

Visit the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve if you are an experienced hiker. The preserve features many lovely trails that run through old-growth coastal redwoods and beautiful ocean vistas.

There are many state parks nearby Half moon bay, the popular one being the Ano Nuevo State Park, known for its elephant seals.

If you time your visit right, you can witness the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. The two-day vibrant celebration held every October features giant pumpkins. Enjoy live music concerts and tasty delicacies, and shop for souvenirs at the arts and crafts boutiques.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 47 miles
  • Duration – 1 hour

Located in San Mateo County towards the North of Santa Cruz and South of Half Moon Bay, the beautiful city of Pescadero is one of the top places for the best weekend trips from San Francisco.

The city derives its name from the Spanish word for a fishmonger and offers everything for art and history buffs, cyclists, motorists, hiking and birding enthusiasts and wine lovers.

Things to do in Pescadero


There are plenty of awesome things to do in Pescadero. Visit the 115-foot-tall Pigeon Point Lighthouse, one of California’s tallest lighthouses and a historical landmark of Pescadero.

It was built in 1872 and contains an oil lamp and a 2000-pound Fresnel lens. Ships sailing along San Mateo County’s rugged shoreline used the lighthouse as a guidepost.

Pescadero is also known for its fantastic beaches. Unwind on the Bean Hollow State beach, collect unique Pebbles on the Pebble beach or drop off your swimsuits on the Southern end of Bean Hollow State beach. Admire the honeycomb rocks and massive dunes on the Pescadero State Beach.

things to do in pescadero california

Birdwatching enthusiasts can visit the 500-acre Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve to enjoy the views of colourful migratory birds.

Visit Butano State Park if you are an avid hiker. The park is known for its 40 miles of fantastic hiking trails that run through the giant old-growth redwoods. Enjoy camping in the well-maintained campgrounds in the park.

Recommended – 19 Best Things To Do in Pescadero, California

One of the other top things to do in Pescadero is to visit the Harley Farms, a 102-year-old farm known for its alpine goats, cheese and other home-made products like Jams, Jellies and chocolates.

If you are interested in organic and sustainable farming, visit the Pie Ranch, shaped like a slice of pie, known for its fresh produce and seasonal pies.



  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 48 miles
  • Duration – 1 hour

Napa Valley, located in the Californian wine county, is one of the best places for romantic weekend trips from San Francisco.

Recognized as the throbbing core of California’s wine industry, Napa is a quaint place adorned with undulating vineyards, effluent castles and mountains, making it an ideal weekend getaway from San Francisco.

weekend trips from bay area


There are 400 wineries in Napa Valley, renowned for its top-notch Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Check out the other wineries in the area, including Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, the best winery in Napa, by taking a guided wine tour from San Francisco.

Enjoy the views of rolling vineyards, sipping your favourite wine as you go on the three-hour vintage train ride from Napa to St. Helena.

Explore Napa downtown and visit Oxbow Public Market for its renowned gourmet food.

Apart from the wineries, Napa is known for its natural hot springs like the Vichy Springs. Stay over the weekend at the Calistoga Hot Springs, a resort with a geothermal pool and cosy spa services.

best weekend trips from San Francisco

Don’t miss Napa’s top attraction, a romantic hour-long journey in a hot air balloon over the valley’s various wineries. You will discover the background of Napa’s wineries on the trip, which departs from Yountville.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 45 miles
  • Duration – 1 hour

Sonoma, located in the North Bay and the Sonoma county winemaking region, is another fantastic spot for weekend trips from San Francisco.

Sonoma is one of the most romantic getaways San Francisco has, featuring numerous wineries similar to those in Napa Valley amid rolling hills and the coastal Sonoma region.


Drive around the city and stop at well-known vineyards like Chateau Saint-Jean and Ledson Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood. If you are a fan of super bloom, visit the place during early spring to witness lavender blooms.

Hiking and adventure enthusiasts can visit Sonoma Coast State Park, which features well-maintained sandy beaches and paved hiking trails. 

Hike under the shades of giant redwoods in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, an hour away from the town. You will be rewarded with stunning ocean views at the trail’s end.

Visit the historical landmark of the town, the Sonoma Plaza, recognized for its colonial-era architecture. Check out other 19th-century buildings around this plaza, such as Mission San Francisco Solano, the Presidio of Sonoma, City Hall and the Sonoma Barracks.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 70 miles
  • Duration – 1.5 hours

Snuggled between the three major wine sections of Sonoma County, Dry Creek, Alexander, and the Russian River Valleys, Healdsburg is another well-known vacation destination noted for its wineries and vineyards.

While the area is comparable to Napa and Sonoma wine regions, you could save some dollars since most vineyards offer complimentary wine samples in Healdsburg.


Rent a bike and go on winery hopping since most wineries and wine-tasting rooms are located next to each other.

I recommend some of my favourites, like the Bricoleur Vineyards, located on a 40-acre lush park, and Jordan Winery, for an outdoor wine-tasting experience under the shades of giant oak trees.

Savour excellent Thumbprint wines at the Thumbprint Cellars, local’s favourite or go for the best wine and dine pairing at the Williamson Wines.

Hike along the beautiful trails of Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve which offers stunning views of the Mayacama Mountains, Russian river and Fitch Mountain.

Go swimming, tubing or Kayaking in the soothing waters of the Russian River. Visit the nearby Del Rio Woods regional park for a relaxing evening.

Grab a snack at the famed Oakville Grocery on the plaza, and don’t forget to browse the stylish boutique stores and antique art galleries that showcase creative artefacts.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 48 miles
  • Duration – 1.5 hours

If you want to wake up to the tunes of birds and rustling leaves after a busy week, head to Yountville, a quaint place in the countryside amid beautiful vineyards and one of the little-known places for weekend trips from San Francisco.

You can set a base at this place and explore Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley or check out other Yountville attractions.


Take a walk and an audio tour of the art scene led by the Napa Valley Museum to witness innovative rotating exhibits.

Rent a bike and go for wine tasting in the nearby wineries of this romantic San Francisco weekend getaway. Enjoy mouthwatering cuisines at renowned eateries like Bottega and Brix Restaurant.

Unwind in the cosy spas nestled in nature, which offer several customized packages. 


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 75 miles
  • Duration – 1.5 hours

Guerneville, located along the coast of the Russian River in the Sonoma County region, is a beautiful place for one of the best weekend trips from San Francisco.


Looking at the Sonoma County region, you would have guessed rightly by now that lovely vineyards and wineries surround the place. Another gorgeous draw for wine fans. 

If you are a foodie, Guerneville is lined up with many multi-cuisine restaurants, a must-try. Check out the other popular breweries for locally crafted beers.

Kayak or Canoe on the calm waters of the Russian River, admiring the lush forest surrounding the river. It is a hot spot for locals, especially during summer, and rental Kayaks and Canoes are available in the nearby kiosks. Alternatively, you can hit Johnson’s beach if the Russian River is crowded.

Go hiking in the Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve, which offers beautiful trails adorned with wildflowers and shrubs.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 71 miles
  • Duration – 1.5 hours

Santa Cruz is a laid-back place recognized as Surfer’s paradise and is one of the best beach towns in Northern California.

There are many things to do in Santa Cruz, including beaches, redwoods, museums, wineries, and food outlets. This will be one of the best weekend trips from San Francisco if you stay in the bay area.



Well-maintained beaches are the main draw in Santa Cruz. Visit the Santa Cruz main beach, or head to Cowell’s beach for tranquil. You can go swimming, sunbathing or surfing on both these beaches. 

Spend your noon strolling around Capitola village and the beach. Gaze at the night skies or enjoy a bonfire night at Sunny Cove, Twin Lakes Beach or Seabright Beach, which has ready-made fire pits.

Spring is a popular season in Santa Cruz for avid surfers. You will witness many surfing competitions and vibrant festivals like Santa Cruz County Fair. During winter, you might get a chance to spot migratory whales.

Stroll along the Roaring Camp Railroad, which runs through redwoods and leads to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, another attraction, especially if you are with family, to enjoy various rides at the amusement park.

Admire the rocky coves and local flora at the Natural Bridges State Park, known for its tide pools and monarch butterfly colonies.

Hiking and Bird watching enthusiasts, visit the Big Basin Redwoods State Park to hike lovely trails which run through giant redwoods. Watch out for banana slugs. Stay in the redwood tree house, one of the Santa Cruz attractions.

Check out the Mystery spot, a peculiar Santa Cruz attraction. Drive along West Cliff Drive for gorgeous Pacific views. Museum and Art buffs can visit the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and history.

Many seafront restaurants in Santa Cruz are known for their seafood cuisines, lovely ambience and live music concerts. 

Visit Santa Cruz Wharf for their taquerias or wineries like Mindego Ridge for the best-handcrafted wines in Santa Cruz.

Shop for souvenirs in the Pacific Garden mall. 


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 55 miles
  • Duration – 1.5 hours

Sebastopol is a small town in Sonoma County and yet another famous spot in California for wine lovers.

The city was previously into growing plums and apples. Still, recently, it has become popular among the locals for its many vineyards and artsy vibes, making this one of the cool places for weekend trips from San Francisco.


The city’s main attraction is Barlow, a gorgeous mall located on the outskirts of the town. You will find vintage agricultural houses converted into the town’s best breweries and wine-tasting rooms.

The mall has four blocks; you can see art galleries, cosy restaurants, vineyards, and breweries.

Don’t miss exploring famous breweries of the town for hand-crafted local beers, including Seismic Brewing Taproom, Woodfour Brewing Company and Crooked Goat Brewing.

Enjoy the views of rolling vineyards from the open-air wine bar atop the hill. Check out the Iron Horse Vineyard for its excellent sparkling wine.

Check out the 14-mile-long outdoor Junkyard art gallery on Florence Avenue, a peculiar attraction of Sebastopol.

Get the hippie vibes from the nearby Freestone town, go antique shopping, and browse through a rare collection of books and furniture in this beautiful city.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 43 miles
  • Duration – 1 hour

Point Reyes National Seashore, located in Marin County, adjacent to Tomales Bay, is an underdeveloped yet alluring city known for its peaceful surrounding nature. It is one of the cool places for weekend trips from San Francisco.


As the first stop in this lovely town, check out the Bear Valley visitor centre to get a fair idea about the city and learn about Point Reyes’s history.

hikes in Point Reyes

Visit Drake’s beach, a famous Point Reyes attraction known for its clean sandy beaches. Go Kayaking around Tomales Bay.

There are many hiking trails in Point Reyes, surrounded by stunning local wildflowers, and you might spot colourful birds on your way. Try Tomales Point Trailhead if you are a beginner hiker. Take the Alamere Falls trail to reach Alamere Falls.

Recommended – 25 Best Hikes In Point Reyes For Outdoor Lovers

Another famous attraction of Point Reyes National Seashore is the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, established in 1870. Descend around 300 steps, and you will be rewarded with panoramic ocean vistas

Don’t miss the Cypress Tree Tunnel stop, an easy stop on the drive down to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The place is lined by Monterey cypress trees planted in the 1930s, and this is one of the few locations where you can observe Morse communication stations.

Recommended – 35 Amazing Things To Do In Point Reyes, CA

Point Reyes is also a renowned fishing town known for its mouth-watering seafood cuisine. Try various varieties of crabs, prawns, oysters and shrimp, along with a combination of locally produced Red and White wines.

Explore Point Reyes Station for local food and dessert choices.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 88 miles
  • Duration – 2 hours

If you are looking for weekend trips from San Francisco, head to Sacramento, California’s state capital, known for its many historical attractions and has become famous for its farm-to-fork model of agriculture in the recent past.

Set base at Sacramento from San Francisco if you want to explore other parts of Central Valley and the Sierras.


Take a free tour of the State Capitol Building, an administrative building and a museum listed on the National Register of Historic places.

Check out the Old Sacramento State Historic Park; the cobblestone streets and the historical buildings will take you back to the 19th century.

Go biking along the American River Bike Trail or Stroll around midtown and downtown to admire the colourful murals.

For fantastic sunset views, head to Tower Bridge or go on a Historic River Cruise with Hornblower.

bay area weekend getaways for couples

Take a guided tour of the Leland Stanford Mansion or explore Sutter’s Fort to learn about the history of this beautiful town.

Visit the two zoos if you enjoy watching animals, and don’t miss the nearby Scandia Family Fun Center rides. In summer, beat the heat by dipping in the two incredible water parks, and in colder months, go ice skating in the rinks nearby.

Recently, Sacramento is getting popular for its craft beers and multi cuisines. So don’t miss exploring the local food scene whilst you are here.



  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 115 miles
  • Duration – 2 hours

Monterey is where you find the affluent class population near the Bay area, and since this is a laid-back place with foggy mornings and cold nights, this is also one of the best spots for romantic weekend trips from San Francisco.


Monterey is also a famous spot for road trips from San Francisco. The city’s main draw is the 17-Mile Drive, thanks to its panoramic ocean views along the coast. 

Unwind on gorgeous beaches like Del Monte Beach, Carmel Beach and Gibson beach for fantastic sunset views, or enjoy a picnic with your loved one at Lovers Point Park. 

Explore tide pools in Point Lobos, located eight miles from Cannery Row and visit the nearby Point Pinos Lighthouse in the Point Lobos State Natural reserve. For the best tide pooling experience, check out Weston Beach. 

Go Kayaking or Standup paddle boarding to get a close-up look at the seals, otters and other marine friends and learn about the kelp forests. If you enjoy hiking, hike the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.

weekend trips from San Francisco winter

Another popular Monterey attraction is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, dedicated to marine research and conservation. Learn about the importance of marine life through its various innovative exhibits.

Museum enthusiasts can visit the Colton Hall Museum or tour the Robert Louis Stevenson House and the John Steinbeck House in Salinas.

Stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf for an incredible boardwalk experience. Settle in for a cosy dinner in one of the many beautiful seafront restaurants like Old Fisherman’s Wharf for excellent ocean views. 

Visit Monterey during winter and spring for the best whale-watching experience.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 115 miles
  • Duration – 2 hours

Located on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel-by-the-sea is known for its European influence and is home to many art galleries making this one of the top places for weekend trips from San Francisco.


The main attraction of this beautiful town is the Carmel Mission, a Spanish mission church. Take a guided tour of this gorgeous mission to admire the interior basilica. The mission church is a National National Historic landmark.

Visit the nearby museums to witness various exhibits depicting the mission’s story. Check out the nearby Ocean Avenue, known for its Scandinavian products and customised art for the souvenir collection. 

long road trips from San Francisco

The best part of Carmel-by-sea is the two gorgeous side-by-side sandy beaches: Carmel Beach and Carmel River Beach. Head to Carmel River Bird Sanctuary if you are a birding enthusiast.

Go hiking near Point Lobos State Reserve, three miles south of the town, to enjoy the stunning vistas of Carmel Valley. Alternatively, head to Garland Ranch Regional Park to stroll amidst maple trees and old-growth redwoods.

Try Golfing at one of the many championship golf courses, including Tehama Golf Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.

Stroll through the downtown area admiring Carmel’s romantic cottages. Enjoy a candlelit dinner or wine tasting for locally produced wines with cheese.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 122 miles
  • Duration – 2.5 hours

Located inland from the Big Sur coastline near the San Andreas fault, Pinnacles National Park, known for its giant rocky towers, is one of the best places for weekend trips from San Francisco.

The craggy landscapes of the park have been formed by a volcanic eruption that happened 20 million years ago, which divides the park into East and West areas. Various unpaved trails connect both areas.

The park was also recognised as Pinnacles National Monument before it was declared a national park in 2013.


Pinnacles National Park is known for its adventurous hiking trails, some of which lead to the two famous Talus caves. Try 6.7 miles loop hike from High Peaks Trail to Bear Gulch or the 2.2 miles Moses Spring Trail or the 9.4 miles Balconies Cave Hike for fantastic park vistas. 

long road trips from San Francisco

Check the status of the caves before you visit, or stop by the visitor centre since the area is generally closed after heavy rainfall to protect the local bat colonies.

If birdwatching interests you, this place will amaze you with its beautiful California Condors, known for its massive nine-and-a-half-foot wingspan.

The park features campgrounds with basic amenities if you plan to stay overnight.

Explore the nearby Mission Soledad, one of the 21 Spanish Missions in California, if you have spare time.

Wear layered clothes since the weather can get colder in the park. A shuttle bus facility runs on the weekends to the Bear Gulch Day use area from the visitor parking centre.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 140 miles
  • Duration – 3 hours

If you are looking for a coastal road trip destination, visit Big Sur, along Highway 1, one of the best weekend trips from San Francisco.

The Big Sur Coastline, running for over 95 miles between Carmel and San Simeon, is one of the highways that offer dramatic terrains dotted with craggy cliffs overlooking exquisite views of the Pacific throughout your Big Sur Road Trip.


Unwind on well-maintained beaches like Sand Dollar Beach, Gibson Beach at Point Lobos and Garrapata State Beach on your way, a popular hub for avid surfers. Visit Pfeiffer beach, famous for its purple sandy shoreline and rock arch, for fantastic sunset views.

Big Sur road trip

Check out the McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer State Park, one of the best Californian tide falls that plummets off the cliff directly into the ocean. The park features many hiking trails amidst redwoods which lead to local beaches. 

Avid hikers can hike the nearby trails like the 1.5 miles Limekiln Falls Hike, 6.4 miles Tan Bark Trail, 5 miles Ewoldsen Trail and the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

Don’t miss the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge, one of the most photographed bridges in California. This open-spandrel single-arch bridge hanging over the canyon at the edge of the Pacific offers stunning views.

Check out the Henry Miller Library, which hosts several events and concerts annually.

Enjoy the sights of seals lazing around on the shores from the elephant seal vista point located in the seaside village of San Simeon.

To have the best sunset experience in Big Sur, grab your favourite drink from Nepenthe, a cosy seafront restaurant which offers mouth-watering delicacies.

Big Sur road trip

If you are in Big Sur between late February and May, do not miss stopping by Calla Lily Valley for its beautiful white flower blooms.

There are many campsites nearby if you plan to camp for a day or two. Check the road conditions ahead of your trip since the road might be closed after heavy rainfall and landslides causing road closures.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 166 miles
  • Duration – 3.5 hours

The majestic Yosemite National Park, especially during winter, is a snow-covered wonderland and is one of the best places for weekend trips from San Francisco.

The park is a haven for nature lovers and attracts around four million visitors per year, one of the most famous vacation places in California.


Drive around the valley through Tioga pass to enjoy the views of Yosemite’s renowned Rock cut faces, El Captain Rock sights, usually found on many wallpapers and the incredible Half Dome.

Yosemite is a wonderland for hikers; it features around 750 miles of hiking trails that run through old-growth redwoods like the Mariposa Grove and water streams, nothing less than a scene from the movie Narnia. 

I recommend trying a few of my favourite hiking trails, including the 7.2 miles Yosemite Falls Hike and 8.5 miles Panorama trail. Try the 16 miles Half Dome Hike if you are an experienced hiker. This trail requires a permit and is obtained by a lottery system online.

Stop by Glacier Point and Tunnel View for the unrivalled vantage points of the valley. Alternatively, explore the Tuolumne Meadows areas and Hetch Hetchy for the best Yosemite park experience.

Yosemite is also known for its many gorgeous hidden waterfalls. If you time your visit right, somewhere around May or June, you will witness the beautiful Sentinel Falls, Horsetail falls, Yosemite falls and Bridalveil Falls.

Yosemite cliff

Winter usually attracts crowds from across the globe. Enjoy ice skating, snowshoeing, tubing, snowboarding and skiing, overlooking the majestic Half Dome views.

Visit the nearby Yosemite Valley museum and Indian Village and enjoy a multi-cuisine meal at one of the many best restaurants in the park.

Check out the beautiful art gallery for souvenir collections. Ensure to book the campsites and hotels ahead of your trip since the place is usually crowded.

There are free shuttle buses that take you through the significant sights of the park. Buy a $30 ticket to enter the park, valid for seven days with multiple entries.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 155 miles
  • Duration – 3 hours

If you are looking for a peaceful hamlet away from the hustle and bustle, hit the Pacific coast highway leading you to Mendocino and Fort Bragg, lovely places for weekend trips from San Francisco.

Mendocino, one of the most beautiful beach towns in North California, located a 3-hour drive from San Francisco, is known for its magnificent Victorian structures, saltbox cottages, stunning beaches, and incredible views.

And Fort Bragg, located about 10 miles from Mendocino, is renowned for its Glass beach.

You will be rewarded with the pleasant ocean breeze, incredible blue skies, fewer tourists crowd, sweeping sea views along the rocky cliffs and a laid-back local community.


Mendocino is adorned with incredible natural sea caves along the coast. Take a guided sea cave tour or go kayaking to take in the best views of the Pacific.

If hiking is your thing, check out the Van Damme State Park, which features miles of trails passing through a forested canyon with luxuriant ferns during winter.

Hike the trails in  Mendocino Headlands State Park to spot the migrating grey whales and see the iconic landmark Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. 

Relax in the MacKerricher State Park tidepools or explore the cascading waterfalls in the Russian Gulch State Park.

Visit the beautiful Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, decorated with dazzling holiday lights during the Festival of Lights, as you enjoy live music and Christmas delicacies.

Mendocino’s downtown will set you on time travel. Stroll along the beautiful victorian architecture, and browse through the art galleries which promote local arts.

weekend getaway San Francisco

The downtown also features many cosy restaurants and wine-tasting rooms, a must-try in Mendocino. Explore the uncharted wine regions around Philo and Navarro.

The nearby Fort Bragg area has historical significance and houses a military installation.

Check out the Skunk Train, Fort Bragg’s top attraction that runs through Pudding Creek Estuary, home to various coastal birds.

Suppose you enjoy hiking; try 4.5 miles of Fort Bragg Coastal Trail in the Noyo Headlands Park. Enjoy the ocean views at Pomo Bluffs Park.

Visit the International Sea Glass Museum and Guest House Museum on the famous Glass Beach, known for its vibrant and smooth pebbles on the seashore.


Agate Cove Inn is a popular choice, thanks to its excellent location and spacious suites, ideal for couples and families. Check here.

Headlands Inn Bed and Breakfast, located a 5-minute walk to the Mendocino Bay beach, is a fabulous option to stay for couples and families. Check here.

Seagull Inn Bed & Breakfast is an excellent place if you want something simple, centrally located, and best for couples. Check here.



  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 265 miles
  • Duration – 4.5 hours

If you are looking for top weekend trips from San Francisco, visit the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, managed by the NPS and are located adjacent to each other.


I recommend visiting this place if you love exploring deep canyons and giant sequoias. Kings Canyon is the deepest canyon in the United States, with a massive 8,200 feet depth.

Visit the Giant Forest Museum at Sequoia National Park to witness the world’s largest sequoia, General Sherman Tree, estimated to be around 2,200 to 2,700 years old. 

weekend getaways from bay area

Explore the General Grant Grove, a 2-mile walk to see the 1,700-year-old and 266-foot-high General Grant Tree, the second-largest sequoia in the world.

Hiking enthusiasts can explore many trails that run amidst massive giant sequoias. Check out the 1.5 miles Big Trees Trail and 1.8 miles Cresent Meadow Trail if you are a beginner hiker. 

Experienced hikers can go for the 3 miles Congress Trail or the 4 miles Tokopah Falls Trail. Check out the Moro Rock Trail for an inclination; you will be rewarded with panoramic views at the summit.

Book a 45-minute guided tour to explore the Crystal Caves if you visit the park from spring to fall.

Explore the Mineral King area, a hiker’s and backpacker’s paradise known for its historic cabin communities and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are two campgrounds available in the area if you plan to camp. 

weekend getaways from San Francisco

While heading to the Giant Forest along Crescent Meadow Road, drive through the Tunnel Log, a carving made from a fallen sequoia, estimated to be 2,000 years old. The tunnel is around 17- feet wide and 8- feet high.

Drive along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway and take in the views from Zumwalt Meadows Panoramic Point. Explore the nearby Grizzly Falls and Roaring River Falls.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 195 miles
  • Duration – 3.5 hours

Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America, located high in the basin of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is a year-round destination and is a popular spot for weekend trips from San Francisco.

The lake’s North and South sides have unique attractions, drawing people from around the globe during winter and summer.

romantic getaways near San Francisco


If you visit the lake area during summer, check out the high-altitude beaches for sunbathing, or try the guided Tahoe Via Ferrata tour, an adventurous protected hiking experience with iron and steel rods attached to the rock face.

Alternatively, go hiking on the popular trails on the south side of the lake. Beginner hikers can try the 2-mile Eagle Falls & Eagle Lake Trail or the 1.4-mile Cascade Falls Trail. 

Hike the 9-mile Rubicon trail and the 10-mile Mount Rose Trail for stunning views of Emerald Bay. Check out the nearby Crag lake hike to explore the beautiful pine meadows and witness the spectacular scenery of granite cliffs.

South Tahoe side is also a hot spot for nightlife and casinos. Take the self-guided craft beer tour around the breweries south of Lake Tahoe.

Try Kayaking or Stand Up Paddleboarding at Sand Harbor Beach.

San Francisco weekend getaways

Lake Tahoe is adorned with many beautiful state parks nearby. Stroll around Emerald Bay or go swimming in the calm waters of the DL Bliss state parks.

Don’t miss the Inspiration Point near Emerald Bay for fantastic lake views. Visit the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion at Sugar Pine Point State Park.

Lake Tahoe is a mini paradise in Winter. People flock to this place to enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding and for a lovely winter vacation in the well-maintained ski resorts equipped with hot tubs.

Check out the ice sculptures at Heavenly Mountain Resort, or hop on the gondola ride to the mountain top for fabulous views.

Lake Tahoe is massive and is usually crowded, especially during summer. Ensure to book accommodations ahead of your trip.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 218 miles
  • Duration – 4 hours

If you are planning to spend your weekend amidst the giant redwoods, visit Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to old-growth coastal redwoods that cover 1/3 of the park’s 55,000 acres and are one of the best redwoods near San Francisco.


Since the park is massive, driving a car is the best way to explore. Drive on the famous 32-mile stretch, Avenue of the Giants, also known for its renowned Shrine Drive Through Tree. Pay a $10 fee to drive through the tree.

Include Founder’s Grove, the fallen Dyerville Giant, Williams Grove, Flatiron Tree, and Gould Grove on your drive to spot gigantic redwoods.

best redwoods in California

You can pick up a brochure from the visitor centre to learn about these old-growth redwoods and other pit stops along this route.

The park features around 100 miles of hiking trails that run through the redwoods. My favourites include Giant Tree & Flat Iron Tree Hike and Rockefeller Loop Trail, which are 0.6 miles. 

You can also hike the 1.3-mile Founders Grove and Dyerville Giant Hike for stunning vistas of the redwoods. Bull Creek Loop is a challenging hike, about 15 miles.

Go fishing, boating or take a refreshing plunge in the beautiful South Fork Eel River, running beside the redwoods. Unwind on the local beaches at the end of Lost Coast Drive.

If you have spare time, take a short detour to Ferndale to witness Victorian architecture.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 290 miles
  • Duration – 5 hours

Mount Shasta, a winter wonderland and a potentially active volcano, is a five-hour drive north of San Francisco and rises 14,000 feet above Northern California’s pine forests.

Mount Shasta is a hot spot for mountaineers and is a lovely place for weekend trips from San Francisco.


Like the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Mount Shasta is best explored by car. So take a panoramic drive along Everitt Memorial Highway from Mt Shasta to Panther Meadows.

Go hiking or snowshoeing on the lovely trails adorned with wildflowers and shrubs that run through the alpine meadows. My favourite routes include the 2-mile Faery Falls hike via Spring Canyon Trail and the 3-mile Grey Butte Trail.

For more experienced snowshoers, I recommend the Bunny Flat trail, a 6.5-miles less-travelled trail with plenty of adventure.

If you visit Mount Shasta during summer or late spring, hike the South Gate Meadow Trail overlooking a dazzling carpet of wildflowers, which source their moisture from the five glaciers around this region.

Visit Burney Falls or take in the spectacular views from views from John Everitt Vista Point.

Mount Shasta is a hub for skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and dog sledding. Most of these activities here are suitable for beginners, making this a favourite SF weekend getaway.

Don’t miss Mount Shasta Ski Park, a popular skiing spot, especially if you are planning a trip to California in December. The park is located in the Cascade Mountain Range, about 6 miles south of Mount Shasta.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 232 miles
  • Duration – 4 hours

Morro Bay, located on Highway One near San Luis Obispo, is one of the best northern California beach towns with a small population of 11,000.

Stretching beaches from North to South, Morro Bay is blessed with six miles of tranquil beaches, making it an ideal place for one of the best weekend trips from San Francisco.


Visit the Morro Rock, the main draw of Morro Bay, a 576-foot rock that is a geological wonder and was part of a volcanic peak called the Nine Sisters 23 million years ago. It is still used as a navigational resource by sailors.

Go swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding or relax on Morro Rock Beach or Cayucos Beach. Watch the Surfers riding the high waves. 

Take a guided tour of Hearst Castle and visit Elephant Seal Rookery to witness sea lions and otters.

There are many parks in the Morro Bay region. Head to Coleman Park for stunning sunset views. Explore the Embarcadero and stroll the Morro Bay State Park Boardwalk. 

Enjoy the tide pools or go hiking on the unpaved trails in the Montana de Oro State Park.

Explore Morro Bay downtown and visit the iconic downtown landmark, Bay theatre. There are a few wineries nearby, but I recommend visiting Paso Robles for the best wine-tasting experience.

Morro Bay is recognised for its vibrant carnivals like the Winter Bird festival. Check out the events calendar if you want to experience any of these. Plan a day trip to San Luis Obispo if you have spare time. 


Pismo Beach is one of the little-known Northern California Beach towns, with a 13-mile sand strip located between San Franciso and Los Angeles. 

This beautiful town is known for its pristine dunes, gardens and lovely beaches, making it one of the top places for weekend trips from San Francisco.


Visit the Pismo Beach Pier near Pismo State Beach, known for its stroll on the soft sandy beach.

romantic getaways near San Francisco

Head to the southern end of Pismo State Beach, which will be less crowded, making it an idyllic location for swimming and surfing. Try Kitesurfing during low tides.

For adventure on the sand, Head to Oceano Dunes nearby to enjoy riding ATVs, sandboarding dizzy dunes and witnessing the orange and black monarchs migrating over the Pacific.

Visit the Santa Rita Hills for local hand-crafted wine tasting.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 231 miles
  • Duration – 3.5 hours

If you are looking for a road trip destination from San Francisco, head to San Luis Obispo, nestled between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Relaxing thermal spring baths, state-of-the-art wineries, and stunning vineyard views draw people to this beautiful town, making it one of the top spots for weekend trips from San Francisco.

things to do in san luis obispo county
places near San Luis Obispo


Explore the streets of downtown SLO, filled with greens and cafes bustling with people. Browse through the art galleries, chic boutiques and antique shops.

The SLO Farmers’ Market, run by the San Luis Obispo County Farmers, is another downtown attraction.

Hike Bishop Peak or Cerro San Luis Obispo. It takes around 90 minutes to get to the top for a fantastic overview of the city from the cliff. 

Visit the nearby museums, including The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, The History Center, the Railroad Museum and the Children’s Museum, to learn about the town’s history.

Unwind in the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden or stroll in the other parks nearby to learn about the local flora that fills the landscape during the bloom seasons.

things to do in San Luis Obispo
things to do in San Luis Obispo

Stay in Madonna Inn, once in a lifetime experience. It has 110 themed rooms with themes of Jungle Rock, Caveman and Antique Cars. Enjoy your favourite cocktail from the world-class bar overlooking a pool on the hilltop.

There are tons of eateries in the SLO area, especially if you are a wine and beer lover; you must check the craft breweries. My favourites include Central Coast Brewing, Liquid Gravity Brewing and Oak and Otter Brewing.

Alternatively, sign up for a food tour to experience the food and drinking culture of the county.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 236 miles
  • Duration – 4 hours

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a beautiful park close to Mount Shasta and the Sacramento Valley and is a prime spot for snowshoers and cross-country skiers.

Known for its beautiful rock formations and hot springs, it has become one of the top places for weekend trips from San Francisco.


Lassen Volcanic National Park is also one of the best places to play with snow in California in December. So have your best snow experience overlooking the largest plug dome Volcano in the world, Lassen Peak.

Visit the area around Lake Helen on Lassen Peak, which receives 600-700 inches of snow annually, making it one of the best places to see snow in California.

Go snowshoeing or hiking on one of these beautiful trails that runs through alpine lakes and meadows and are usually dotted with beautiful wildflowers in late Spring; 3.8 miles Mill Creek Falls Hike or the 4.2 miles Devil’s Kitchen Trail. Hike up the Cider Cone for stunning vistas of the Park.

Enjoy adventurous activities like sledging, cross-country skiing and the free ranger-led snowshoe tour on the South-West area of the park.

San Francisco weekend getaway

Take a dip in the Little Hot Springs Valley and enjoy the views of Lassen Peak in the backdrop. See the geological wonders at Sulphur Works and Bumpass Hell. Enjoy the amazing sunset views at Manzanita Lake.

Explore the nearby Subway Cave Lava Tubes, 15 min drive from Manzanita Lake. Get a flashlight for the best experience!

Early Fall and Late Spring months are the best time to visit this park. The park gets up to 10,500 feet, so beware of altitude sickness.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 230 miles
  • Duration – 4 hours

Located on the Central Coast, Cambria is one of the cool spots for weekend trips from San Francisco.

This lovely coastal hamlet is recognized for its diverse wildlife, stunning scenery, and wild beaches, making it one of the top North California Beach towns.


Go hiking on the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk Trail or explore the spectacular bluff trail at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve for lovely ocean views and to spot vibrant coastal birds.

Unwind on the famous Moonstone Beach for incredible sunset views, and to collect shiny gemstones along the rugged shoreline for your souvenir collection.

Stroll on the Pier on the William Randolph Hearst State Beach overlooking the fairytale-like Hearst Castle, which sits on a lush hill six miles away. Visit the Nitt Witt Ridge, popularly known as a poor man’s Hearst Castle by the locals.

weekend trips from San Francisco

The Piedras Blancas Rookery, home to a colony of up to 25,000 elephant seals, is a must-see in Cambria.

Visit Cambria’s downtown, adorned with art galleries, antique shops and gardens. Rent a bike and go wine sampling around the town.

If you have spare time, drive to nearby towns like San Simeon and Big Sur or take a hike in the Morro Bay State Park.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 205 miles
  • Duration – 4 hours

Paso Robles, located in Central California wine county between the Salinas River and the Santa Lucia Coastal Range, is the best place for long weekend trips from San Francisco, especially if you are a wine lover.

Paso Robles is also known for its hot springs making this a fabulous bay area weekend getaway.


Go on a winery hopping since Paso Robles is known for its 300 best-in-class wineries and beautiful vineyards. My favourites on the list are J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Eberle Winery and Tobin James Cellars. 

San Francisco weekend trips

Take The Wine line for customised wine tours and budget-friendly transportation between the wineries.

Paso Robles is also known for its Craft Beer distilleries. So Beer lovers will not be disappointed.

Recommended – 25 Best Things To Do In Paso Robles Beside Wineries

Go for a day spa and get yourself pampered or take a dip in the hot springs in the resorts; The best ones include River Oaks Hot Springs Spa and the thermal hot spring at Franklin Hot Springs.

Try Golfing in one of the many championship golf courses, such as Hunter Ranch Golf Course or the Links at Paso Robles.



  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 325 miles
  • Duration – 5.5 hours

Santa Barbara, located on the Central California coast, is a lovely place for weekend trips from San Francisco.

Known for its Spanish-style architecture adorned with red-tiled roofs, Santa Barbara throws a typically Mediterranean vibe, with the dazzling backdrop of Santa Ynez mountains on one side and the beautiful Pacific views on the other.

weekend trips from San Francisco

If you stay near the wine county of Santa Ynez, Los Angeles or the Channel Islands, add Santa Barbara to your weekend trip list.


There are many lovely beaches in the Santa Barbara area. My favourites include West Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach County Park, and East Beach. Don’t miss the inspiration point on Butterfly Beach for gorgeous sunset views.

Many beaches also offer adventurous activities like horseback riding, cycling, fishing, Surfing and Kayaking. Take the guided whale-watching tour to spot the marine friends.

Visit the Santa Barbara Mission, built in 1876 and the Santa Barbara County Courthouse to witness the Spanish architecture.

weekend trips from San Francisco

Check out El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, established in 1776 and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to learn about the town’s history. 

Stroll around Santa Barbara Botanic Garden or Ganna Walska Lotusland. Rent a bike and explore Cabrillo Boulevard.

Santa Barbara is known for its vibrant festivals, including food fairs, film premieres, music concerts and wine-tasting events.

Enjoy your favourite drink and mouth-watering seafood delicacies in the cosy seafront restaurants along the shoreline while you watch the sky fill with various sunset hues.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 320 miles
  • Duration – 5.5 hours

Mammoth Lakes, tucked in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, is a perfect location for one of the long weekend trips from San Francisco.

The region around Mammoth Lakes is home to many gorgeous natural hot springs known for their rich minerals.



I recommend visiting the Mammoth Welcome Center as a first stop to learn the conditions of the trails and to grab maps. Also, if you need tire chains, you can get information here or head to the Mammoth gas station.

Go Hiking around the Mammoth Lakes area for some of the best vistas of the Sierra Nevada region. Beginner hikers can try the 1.8 miles Crystal Lake Trail.

My other favourite trails include Devil’s Postpile and the Rainbow Falls hike, both around 4.9 miles. Also, try the 3 miles Skelton Lake Trail, Mammoth Lakes Basin and Little Lakes Valley for panoramic views of the alpine meadows.

bay area weekend getaways

The incredible Gondola ride is the best way to explore the Mammoth Lakes. You can get the best views from the Minaret Vista. Also, try the free local transit.

Take a tour of the local hot springs in Mammoth Lakes. Some famous sites include Wild Willy’s Hot Spring, Hilltop Hot Spring and Hot Creek Geological Site.

If you visit lakes during winter, try snowshoeing, tubing, skiing or snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain.

Check out the Mammoth Museum at the Hayden Cabin Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center.

Grab a local craft beer at the Mammoth Brew Festival and enjoy the blues music festival, which usually happens in August.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 320 miles
  • Duration – 6 hours

Another popular spot on the list for long weekend trips from San Francisco is June Lake, located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.


Hike the 3.8-mile Parker Lake trail to witness beautiful fall foliage with the backdrop of Mono Lake and the other nearby mountain summits.

The other best way to explore the June Look area is to drive through the 16-mile June Lake loop that runs through craggy mountains, towering aspens and frozen lakes.

lakes at Mammoth

Try Kayaking on Silver Lake, bordered by beautiful mountains and enjoy the stunning views. You can rent the Kayaks and Paddleboards from the Silver Lake Resort.

If you enjoy Hot Springs, take a plunge in the Travertine Hot Springs, a renowned mineral hot spring near Bridgeport that offers the Sierras’ best views.

The best time to visit June lake is from October until the first snow of the season to witness the best fall foliage. Check out the Mono County Foliage Tracker if you want to time your visit right.


  • Driving Distance from San Francisco – 352 miles
  • Duration – 6 hours, including Ferry 

How about a group of Islands for one of the long weekend trips from San Francisco? Sounds exciting? Visit the Channel Islands National Parkespecially in the Bay area.

Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel are among the five islands that make up the park. Each island features its unique attraction, and I recommend sparing at least 3-4 days to explore these beautiful islands.


weekend trips from San Francisco

Take a ferry from Ventura and plan to camp on any of these islands. Alternatively, hop on the Island Packers boat to explore these islands.

You will have many beaches on your list to relax on these five Islands. But my favourites are Scorpion beach on Santa Cruz Island and Water Canyon Beach on Santa Rosa Island, if you are looking for tranquil.

Go Kayaking, or take a sailing tour, one of the best ways to admire these islands, especially the sea caves around Santa Cruz Islands.

Hike the lovely trails, and you will be rewarded with stunning ocean views at the end of each track.

Check out the 2 miles Cavern Point Loop hike and 4.5 miles Scorpion Canyon Loop hike on Santa Cruz Island. Try hiking the 5-mile Torrey Pines on Santa Rosa Island. Another popular trail is the Inspiration Point trail to see the tide pools at Frenchy’s Cove on Anacapa Island.

If you enjoy being in the water, try Snorkeling at Scorpion Beach on Santa Cruz Island and Landing Cove on Anacapa Island. 



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