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7 Day Trips From San Francisco to Plan Now
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7 Day Trips From San Francisco to Plan Now

Put your road trip playlist on and enjoy as many of these day trips from San Francisco as you can. Discover 7 awesome day trips now.

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5 min read

November 20, 2021

Living in San Francisco is truly a bliss. The City by the Bay is home to ever-growing tech startups, iconic landmarks, sparkling emerald waters, gorgeous city parks, inspiring museums, and art galleries, and an incomparable dining scene. You’ll probably never run out of unique things to do in S.F., but if you ever do, you’re only a short drive from breathtaking destinations. So, put your road trip playlist on and enjoy as many of these day trips from San Francisco as you can.

The Best Day Trips From San Francisco To Go On Now

The Half Moon Bay coastline is made up of multiple state beaches, stretching along several miles of wide, sandy coast.

1. Half Moon Bay

Distance from San Francisco: 35 minutes

Half Moon Bay is a pretty close town to head to for a change, but the truth is the vibe here is on a completely different level. Nestled by the coast, this small town is a rural retreat just 30 miles away from the bustling city. Pumpkin patches, farms, golf courses, and ranches cover the hills that roll down towards the spectacular sandy beaches. Even if you don’t get to spend much time in Half Moon Bay, outdoor activities like surfing and short hikes have the power to change your mood real quick. 

Ride the waves at Mavericks Beach so you understand why world-class surfers love this spot so much. Then, take a stroll at the historic downtown, where you’ll find the best eateries and shops. Dining at the Monsoon Himalayan Restaurant is an experience you don’t want to miss—their chicken coconut curry dish is outstanding. With more awesome places to see and, driving to Half Moon Bay might just be the best day trip from San Francisco.

While S.F. is a top travel destination in the Bay Area, San Jose experienced tremendous growth in a few short decades.

2. San Jose

Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes

A short distance from San Francisco, Silicon Valley’s San Jose is the Golden State’s tech hub. The futuristic city has a laid-back side, making it the perfect destination for those who want to relax on a quick day trip from San Francisco

One place you should totally visit in San Jose is Rosicrucian Park—this is where the famous Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is located, which showcases the biggest collection of Egyptian artifacts dating back to 5,000 years. The Winchester Mystery House is yet another spot you can’t miss; it’s probably the scariest and weirdest haunted house in California. As for those visiting for the tech industry, the Tech Interactive is the place to be. If you have any questions on technological advancements, consider them answered.

Napa Valley is one of the most beauty-centric, eco-luxurious places to visit in the world, bursting at the seams with things to do.

3. Napa

Distance from San Francisco: 55 minutes  

A visit to Napa is always a good idea, especially since it’s just a short San Francisco day trip. Home to 400 wineries, Wine Country isn’t just limited to vino-related activities—those who know better choose to do all the fun things that don’t involve alcohol

A hot air balloon ride with Napa Valley Aloft is the best way to immerse yourself in the area’s gorgeous landscape. Another way to explore the beauty of this destination is by biking the 47-mile Napa Valley Bike Trail. But the best way to discover the true essence of Napa is by taking everyone’s favorite Wine Train. Ride and dine in style aboard the elegant antique railway cars—this three-hour ride will be the best activity you get to do in Napa. 

Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers appreciate Santa Cruz for its serene beaches and unspoiled landscapes.

4. Santa Cruz

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 16 minutes

Santa Cruz is a balmy beach town that has the kind of care-free vibe you so desperately seek after a long work week. Here, you’ll spend your day going on rides at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and enjoying the perfect surfing conditions (plus views) at Natural Bridges State Beach. And if you thought that’s all there is to the beach town, you’ll discover a lot more Santa Cruz attractions and they're all food-related. Savor the taste of the amazing chowders on the Wharf and try the frozen bites from Penny Ice Creamery

If the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and the surfing culture aren’t good enough reasons to visit Surf City, we don’t know what is. Leave all your cares behind and head to one of the best beachside destinations in the Golden State. 

Carmel-by-the-Sea will reward you with some of the world's finest scenery, historic sites, art galleries, restaurants, and boutique shops.

5. Carmel-by-the-sea

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 56 minutes

Known as one of the best coastal getaways in the Golden State, Carmel-by-the-Sea is the charming destination you need to visit with your beau. White sandy shores surrounded by cypress trees make this seaside village as romantic as it gets. Add fairy-tale cottages, high-end art galleries, cute little boutiques, and world-class restaurants to that mix, and you’ll realize that one day isn’t enough. 

Point Lobos is probably the most beautiful coastal spot in the area, and the Gallery-by-the-Sea Carmel is where you’ll get your art fix on your getaway. And whenever you’re craving delicious meals, head to the Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant to enjoy the day’s catch with the chef’s picks.

You can choose from a variety of fun things to do in Mendocino and in the beautiful state parks that surround it.

6. Mendocino

Distance from San Francisco: 3 hours and 5 minutes

Are you ready to escape city life and head to a sleepy beach town? Mendocino awaits you with all its beauty and activities you get to do here. Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, the charming village is as picture-perfect as can be, so get ready to rest and relax.

Outdoor activities are pretty big in Mendocino; renting a canoe and floating on the Big River is one thing you shouldn’t miss. Nature lovers prefer heading to the Mendocino National Forest, where hiking will help you destress and feel one with nature. And if you wish to discover local art, check out the Mendocino Art Center —this San Francisco day trip will be one for the books.

An icon of the United States' majestic natural beauty, Yosemite National Park welcomes millions of visitors each year.

7. Yosemite National Park

Distance from San Francisco: 3 hours and 50 minutes

The majestic beauty of Yosemite National Park leaves every visitor in awe. Situated by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this magnificent national park boasts scenery so beautiful that you’ll feel like you’ve been set free. With 750 miles of trails, hike as many of them to uncover marvelous surprises like 1000-foot waterfalls, dazzling lakes, and massive sequoia forests. 

Regardless of when you choose to visit, you’re sure to find something to do here. Birdwatching, horseback riding, fishing, and skiing are just a few of the activities you’ll get to enjoy. If you’re looking to spend the night at Yosemite National Park, rejoice, as you are in one of the best national parks to camp in the Golden State

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