32 Best Day Trips from San Francisco | 2024 (with Photos)

Marvellous Oyebanjo

Marvellous Oyebanjo - Travel Writer

Published: June 30, 2023

Hey there! I'm Marvellous, an avid explorer with a passion for uncovering hidden gems. Join me on an unforgettable journey as I share my top recommendations and insider tips for the best day trips from San Francisco in 2024. Let's embark on an adventure together and make your trip truly extraordinary!

Famed for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and unique neighborhoods, San Francisco is a top destination for tourists and locals alike.

However, if you’re looking to get out of the city, there are plenty of incredible day trips just a short drive away.

From breathtaking nature spots to exciting small towns, these are the best day trips from San Francisco that you simply can't miss.

So, let's take a look at the Travel-Lingual guide on 32 best day trips from San Francisco that you can enjoy with the whole family.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

InterContinental San Francisco.

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Best Time to Visit

Mild weather and fewer tourists from September to November.

Average Temperature

Moderate with cool summers and mild winters.

Transportation Options

Buses, trains, cable cars, bikes, rideshare, taxis.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Start your day with a picturesque stroll along the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, savoring the breathtaking views of the sparkling bay and towering city skyline.

As the sun sets, head to the vibrant neighborhoods of San Francisco to discover the city's rich cultural tapestry - indulge in delectable cuisine in Chinatown, explore the vibrant street murals of the Mission District, or immerse yourself in the colorful atmosphere of the Castro district, where history meets LGBTQ+ pride.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Comfortable walking shoes
  2. Layers of clothing for unpredictable weather
  3. Sunscreen

What Not to Miss

  1. Golden Gate Bridge
  2. Alcatraz Island
  3. Fisherman's Wharf
  4. Chinatown
  5. Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies

What to Avoid

  1. Heavy traffic during peak hours.
  2. Leaving valuables unattended.
  3. Wandering alone in certain neighborhoods at night.

1. Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

If you’re looking for a picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, you’ve come to the right place.

This stunning coastal region is home to a wide variety of activities and attractions, so there are plenty of opportunities to explore.

It is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which offers visitors a unique experience to explore the wonders of the ocean.

Located just an hour and a half drive south of San Francisco, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is easily accessible for visitors to enjoy the 600 species it has, firsthand.

2. Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore is a stunning coastal area located in Northern California. Just 30 miles north of San Francisco, the Point Reyes National Seashore offers an array of activities for visitors to enjoy.

Point Reyes provides breathtaking views with its rugged coastline, grass-covered hillsides, open beaches, and the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Visitors can explore the 70 miles of trails that travel through Point Reyes or visit one of three lighthouses perched on the edge of the shoreline.

3. Carmel-by-the-Sea


Carmel-by-the-Sea is a charming seaside town situated near the bay area, just 30 minutes south of San Francisco. This quaint and charming village is alive with art, culture, local shops, and beauty.

Visitors can also admire its stunning architecture or visit Carmel Beach to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin.

There are plenty of outdoor activities for adventurers including hiking trails and water sports options like kayaking or paddle boarding.

4. Point Bonita Lighthouse

Point Bonita Lighthouse

The Point Bonita Lighthouse, located in Marin County, just south of San Francisco, is a stunningly beautiful sight to behold. It is tucked away on the Marin Headlands and stands guard over the entrance to San Francisco Bay.

With a history that stretches back over 150 years, this iconic beacon has been guiding sailors into the bay since 1855.

The scenery around Point Bonita is breathtaking too. Visitors can take in panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean crashing against rocky cliffs and distant islands dotting the horizon.

5. Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is a little slice of paradise just outside of San Francisco. Stinson Beach is popular amongst locals and visitors alike, who come to soak up the sun and amazing views.

Stinson Beach stretches nearly three miles along the coast and offers plenty of swimming, surfing, fishing, and kayaking.

Take a stroll through the sandy shores at Stinson Beach and explore the unique rock formations that line the shoreline.

While at Stinson Beach, you can bird-watch as native species fly overhead in search of food. There are also several cafes and restaurants you can dine at by Stinson Beach.

If you're looking for a relaxing and sunny day trip, then you should consider Stinson Beach.

6. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is an outdoor paradise located just a few hours away from San Francisco. A day trip to this famous national park can be the perfect escape into nature, allowing visitors to explore unique landscapes and take part in exciting activities.

From majestic granite cliffs and giant sequoia trees to thundering waterfalls and emerald meadows, Yosemite National Park is full of beauty and adventure.

Keep in mind that if you need help around the big park, you can contact someone from the national park service and they will guide you.

7. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a must-see destination for any visitor to San Francisco.

Located off of the Pacific Coast Highway, this extraordinary nature reserve offers stunning views and rich wildlife.

From the crescent-shaped beaches to the jagged cliffs and rocky coves, Point Lobos is an outdoor paradise that will take your breath away.

Take in breathtaking views while you explore over eight miles of trails. Keep your eyes peeled, as you might catch a glimpse of sea otters, seals, sea lions, and gray whales playing in the waves near shore.

Bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the sandy beaches or grab some binoculars to spot birds soaring overhead in search of food.

8. Sonoma Valley

Sonoma Valley

Sonoma Valley is a beautiful destination for day trippers from San Francisco.

Located in the heart of Sonoma County, it's only an hour away from the city and offers visitors plenty of activities that provide a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of life in the big city.

From wine tasting to outdoor recreation, visitors are sure to find something that suits their interests in Sonoma Valley.

For those looking for something more laid back, take advantage of the historic downtown plaza in Sonoma County with its unique shops, art galleries, and farmer’s markets.

9. Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a beautiful city located in Northern California, boasting stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. If you're interested in traveling to Santa Cruz, distance won't be an issue from San Francisco. It's just 73 miles away.

For the nature lover, Natural Bridges State Beach is the perfect destination. This majestic sandy beach provides visitors with magnificent views of the ocean and its many rock formations, as well as exploration of tide pools.

Santa Cruz is also home to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which has several roller coasters, carnival games, and delicious treats to eat.

If you want to enjoy 3 hours' worth of spectacular views, Santa Cruz offers a steam train ride that starts at the Santa Cruz Mountains and goes down through a forest to end its journey at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

You can also choose to ride the train from the beach boardwalk to the Santa Cruz Mountains.

10. Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument is one of the adventurous day trips from San Francisco.

Muir Woods houses a beautiful redwood forest. Located just a short distance from San Francisco, Muir Woods offers breathtaking views of some of the world's tallest trees.

If you're looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle, Muir Woods National Monument is worth checking out.

Muir Woods features over 600 acres of protected old-growth redwood trees which were declared a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Many trails throughout Muir Woods offer scenic vistas and potential encounters with wildlife.

11. Sierra Nevada Mountains

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Located just east of the bay area, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are an outdoor enthusiast's dream.

With its towering peaks and lush forests, the Sierra Nevadas offer plenty of adventure opportunities like hiking, camping, horseback riding, and skiing.

If you want to explore further than the mountainside trails, there are also several scenic towns nearby that make popular stops on any Sierra Nevada road trip.

12. Mount Diablo State Park

Mount Diablo State Park

Another stop to add to your list of day trips from San Francisco is Mount Diablo State Park. Located in the foothills of Contra Costa County, this beautiful park offers spectacular views and unique experiences.

With more than 20,000 acres of land to explore, you can easily spend an entire day enjoying the beauty of nature here.

Consider mountain biking on one of Mount Diablo’s many trails. Some are easy, while others offer more challenging terrain.

Mountain bikers should be cautious of which trails they should take. Enjoy the wildflowers and animals during your ride.

13. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

If you’re looking for a fun day trip from San Francisco, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is the perfect destination.

From towering redwoods to meadows of wildflowers, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has an abundance of natural beauty that can’t be found anywhere else.

There are plenty of activities in the park as well, including camping, hiking trails, picnic areas, and more.

To reach the State Park, just take the Pacific Coast Highway, which provides you with glorious coastal views.

14. Tomales Bay

Tomales Bay

Just an hour and a half north of San Francisco, Tomales Bay is the perfect day trip destination.

With crystal clear water and incredible views, this little slice of paradise provides visitors with breathtaking scenery.

The bay offers countless activities for adventurers of all levels including swimming, fishing, bird-watching, hiking, and kayaking through the surrounding wetlands.

15. Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay, just a short distance from San Francisco, should be on your list of day trips to take.

Half Moon Bay offers stunning coastal views and plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Grab your sunscreen and head out on one of the many scenic trails that Half Moon Bay has to offer.

If you’re feeling adventurous, rent kayaks at Half Moon Bay or go horseback riding along the coastline horseback riding trails.

16. Sacramento


Welcome to the capital of California. Sacramento is a vibrant city situated near the heart of San Francisco Bay.

Located only 88 miles in distance from San Francisco, Sacramento offers an array of activities and sights that make it one of the most desirable places in the region.

There are many things to do and see in Sacramento, from its magnificent state capitol which is home to the historic preservation of the state, to its rivers, trails, and museums.

Stop by the visitor center for more information or to get any questions answered.

17. Napa Valley

Napa Valley

Napa Valley is definitely worth the drive from San Francisco. With its picturesque vineyards, delicious food, and top-notch wineries, it's the perfect escape from the bay area.

Whether you’re interested in wine tasting through the Napa Valley Wine Train or simply want to soak up the gorgeous views of the rolling hills, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in Napa Valley.

18. Cross the San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay

If you’re looking to get away from the city life of San Francisco without going too far, why not cross the bay?

Experience a day trip that offers breathtaking views as you explore both sides of the San Francisco area.

Traveling across the bay can be done in many ways: by ferry, cable car, or even on foot.

One of the most popular ways is to take a ferry from Pier 41 in Fisherman’s Wharf to Oakland/Alameda which will give you plenty of time to sit back and enjoy some incredible vistas.

While crossing, keep an eye out for iconic landmarks such as Alcatraz Island and Treasure Island.

19. Angel Island State Park

Angel Island State Park

Angel Island State Park is one of the most popular day trips from San Francisco.

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Angel Island offers a wide variety of activities and sights for visitors of all ages. From camping to kayaking and hiking, Angel Island State Park has something for everyone.

Angel Island is home to a variety of wildlife including deer, rabbits, foxes, and numerous species of birds. To get to Angel Island, you take the Angel Island ferry, which takes about 10 minutes.

From Angel Island, you can see a panoramic view of the San Francisco skyline, downtown San Francisco, and Marin County. This day trip is one to not be missed.

20. San Jose

San Jose

The vibrant city of San Jose is a great starting point for day trips from San Francisco, especially if you're looking to explore near the Bay Area.

The distance from San Francisco is only 55 miles, so you can be in San Jose in about an hour.

Begin by taking a stroll along the banks of the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens. Afterward, stop by the Tech Museum and marvel at innovative displays showcasing the latest cutting-edge technology.

Lastly, don't forget to check out the Winchester Mystery House, which is a sprawling 160-room Victorian mansion filled with secret passages and winding staircases.

21. Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park

Located an hour south of San Francisco, Castle Rock State Park is one of the best San Francisco day trips.

With 8,500 acres of woodlands and meadows, there’s plenty to do for nature lovers.

Whether you want to go for a hike, ride your mountain bike along one of the trails, or just relax with a picnic lunch at the base of the rock formations at Castle Rock State Park.

22. Berkeley


Berkeley, just 15 miles in distance from San Francisco, is the perfect spot for a trip away from San Francisco.

With its unique culture and beautiful scenery, you'll find plenty of fun activities to keep you entertained.

The city is home to some of the best dining in the Bay Area and it's full of character. Whether you're looking for an outdoor adventure or a relaxing day out with friends, Berkeley has something for everyone.

Start your day by exploring the campus at UC Berkeley. Stroll through Sproul Plaza and check out iconic spots like Sather Tower.

Then head over to Telegraph Avenue to do some shopping before indulging in one of the many delicious restaurants lining Shattuck Avenue.

23. Mount Tamalpais State Park

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Located only 14 miles north in distance from San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais State Park offers spectacular views of the Bay Area.

The centerpiece of the park is Mount Tamalpais itself, rising 2,571 feet above sea level with breathtaking panoramic views all around.

There are several mountain biking and hiking trails that lead to the top and even more meandering paths through redwood groves and open grasslands below it.

Mount Tamalpais State Park offers you one of the more adventurous San Francisco day trips.

24. Oakland


Oakland, California is one of the biggest cities in the East Bay that offers various activities you can do while there.

From exploring the stunning Lake Merritt to visiting an array of unique local attractions and eateries, Oakland has plenty to offer.

Enjoy fantastic views of the golden gate bridge from atop any one of the many rolling hills that surround the lake in the East Bay and be sure to take a few moments to appreciate nature’s beauty as you go by.

Experience Oakland's vibrant night scene, brimming with diverse activities that cater to every taste.

25. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is located about a three-hour drive away. This stunning nature preserve is home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural beauty in California.

From giant sequoias, beautiful nature trails, the largest trees on Earth, and sprawling meadows and canyons that stretch for miles, visitors will find plenty of ways to explore and experience the park's unique landscape.

Camping is one of the top activities at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. There are over 800 campsites throughout both parks just waiting to be discovered.

Head over to the visitor center to pick up a map of the Park.

26. Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

The San Francisco Bay Area is full of hidden gems and one of the most treasured is the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve.

Located just 45 miles south of San Francisco, it's a great spot for day trips from the city or an easy weekend getaway.

Birdwatchers can observe over 150 species of birds either in flight or nesting in the marsh. If you're lucky, you can spot a great blue heron.

Nature lovers can wander along miles of trails, taking in sights like sweeping ocean vistas, wildflowers blooming in meadows, and majestic redwoods towering overhead.

Be aware of the San Francisco garter snake as they will be slithering around.

27. Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is a technology mecca located in the heart of California’s Bay Area.

With its proximity to San Francisco, it makes for an exciting destination for those who want to soak up all the incredible sights and sounds the area has to offer.

From tech giants like Apple and Google to inspiring start-ups, Silicon Valley offers something for everyone looking to explore this hub of innovation.

While there, take a tour of Stanford University or grab lunch at one of Silicon Valley's iconic eateries.

28. Filoli


San Francisco is a city full of adventure and culture, with something to do or see around every corner.

If you’re looking for an easy yet luxurious San Francisco day trip away from the city, Filoli is the perfect destination. Located in Woodside, just 15 miles south of San Francisco, Filoli offers visitors a chance to reconnect with nature and explore 654 acres of gardens and woodlands.

Upon arriving at this National Trust Historic Site, guests can take part in self-guided tours of the house; featuring exquisite art pieces from all over Europe as well as intricate period furnishings from 16th century England.

29. Marin County

Marin County

Marin County, located just north of San Francisco, is an ideal destination for day trips.

With its stunning views of the bay, lively local culture, and easy access to world-class restaurants and shopping, Marin County is the perfect spot for a quick escape.

Explore the county's natural beauty with a hike or take in some art at one of the many galleries. For those looking to shop, downtown Mill Valley has lots of boutique stores and eateries to choose from.

30. Sausalito


Sausalito is the perfect day trip destination for anyone living in or visiting San Francisco.

Located across the bay, this charming seaside town offers spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and a variety of activities to keep you entertained.

Whether it's taking a stroll along the waterfront, admiring beautiful boats at one of many marinas, or exploring art galleries and shops downtown, there's something for everyone in Sausalito.

Cruise around on bike rentals and visit Fort Cronkhite to get an up-close look at historical defense bunkers built by US soldiers during World War II.

Don't forget to take some time to enjoy delicious seafood dishes from one of many waterfront restaurants as you take in stunning views of the bay.

31. Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in San Francisco, and it’s a great place for a day trip.

Located at the northern end of San Francisco, the 1.7 miles long bridge connects Marin County to San Francisco and offers breathtaking views of the ocean.

Whether you want to take pictures from afar or go for a walk on the bridge itself, visiting this marvel of engineering is an unforgettable experience.

32. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Nestled between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in North America. Whether you’re looking for a day trip from San Francisco or a weekend escape, this stunning lake is a memorable one.

Lake Tahoe has long been renowned as an outdoor paradise, surrounded by mountains with breathtaking views that are sure to leave you in awe.

From fishing off the docks to hiking through some of the best trails around, there are plenty of fun things to do in Lake Tahoe. Plus, its crystal-clear waters make it perfect for swimming, kayaking, and exploring both on land and at sea.

FAQs About Day Trips from San Francisco

Is Lake Tahoe close to San Francisco?

Lake Tahoe is reasonably close to San Francisco. The drive between these two hot spots is around three hours. Pack a sandwich and hit the road.

What places are 3 hours away from San Francisco?

Within a three-hour drive of San Francisco, you can visit San Miguel town, Slates Hot Springs, or Fresno City. Depending on whether you want to visit a big city, a small town, or a natural site, these are some great options.

What national parks are near San Francisco?

Near San Francisco there are a number of national parks, including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Pinnacles National Park, and Sequoia National Park, among others.

How many days do you need in San Francisco?

If you are visiting San Francisco for the first time and want to have a full experience of the city and surrounding areas, it would be a good idea to dedicate three to five days to this beautiful part of California.

Summing up: Best Day Trips from San Francisco

San Francisco offers plenty of options for day trips to explore the unique beauty of Northern California.

From coastal cliffs and redwood forests to Napa Valley activities and Mountain peaks, there is something for everyone.

Whether you want to relax on a beach or explore an exciting city, you can find the perfect trip away from San Francisco.

That being said, pack your bags and get exploring these sunny locations. Make sure you have bought tickets and checked the opening hours for all attractions.