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Weekend Getaways Within Three Hours of The Bay Area

Weekend Getaways Within Three Hours of The Bay Area

With so many destinations within three hours of the Bay Area, it’s time to get on the road again to head to these long-weekend getaways. Team


5 min read

February 16, 2024

With warm weather lasting throughout the summer and into the fall, don’t be surprised if spontaneous weekend getaways send you out on the road again. From the forested landscapes of Big Sur to the cityscapes of Sacramento, to the refreshing waters of Lake Tahoe, there is plenty to explore within three hours of the Bay Area. So rather than endlessly searching for weekend getaways near the Bay area, check out these recommendations and start planning your next road trip. 

Lake Tahoe

Distance from San Francisco: 3 hours

Offering stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking in the summer as well as skiing in the winter, Lake Tahoe is rife with outdoor adventure. Tahoe boasts a beautiful, off-the-beaten-track location, helping vacationers escape the “real world”. Yet, it is not far enough to rule out as a spontaneous vacation destination, making it one of the most desired Bay Area getaways.

The fresh air, mountainous terrain, and a mixture of natural as well as man-made landmarks of Tahoe make it ideal for family vacations and couples’ weekend getaways near the Bay Area; so don’t be afraid to book a couple of trips here throughout the year.

With its snow-dusted peaks, clear waters and promise of adventure, Lake Tahoe serves as an ideal getaway for those in need of a rejuvenating vacation.

Big Sur

Distance from San Francisco: 3 hours

Merely a few hours away from the Bay Area is the beautiful Big Sur with its wild outdoors. As you drive along the dazzling waters that border the iconic Highway 1, the fast-paced, stress-filled city vibes will become a distant memory. Plan on camping in Big Sur for one of the most memorable and affordable mini-vacations; the vast wilderness, natural beauty, and surprising wonders are best experienced up close and personal. Before you leave your long weekend in Big Sur behind and return to reality, visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, see McWay Falls with your own eyes, and dine at the incredible eateries.

Witness the beauty of McWay Falls while visiting Big Sur, a pristine stretch of coastline rife with natural wonders and outdoor adventure.


Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 30 minutes

While the region is known for its vineyards, multitude of microclimates, and its ability to attract millions of visitors per year, Napa truly offers so much more. The Napa Valley’s abundant soils bring rise to some of the best cuisines in all of California, inspiring brilliant chefs to pursue farm-to-table culinary techniques.

Napa is a top Bay Area getaway for couples due to the region’s many luxurious spas and romantic hotels. Adventurous free spirits will find plenty to do in this Wine Country city. Consider hiking the thousands of acres of rolling hills, flying up high in a hot-air balloon, and tasting your way around the valley’s plethora of locally made products.  Meanwhile, if you happen to be in town for a long vacation, plan on visiting the neighboring cities in Napa County as well—St. Helena, Yountville, and Calistoga are said to take one’s breath away.

Enjoy breathtaking views, get pampered, soar above the clouds, and savor world-class cuisine in the famous Napa Valley.

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Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 30 minutes

While getting away from the city to visit the state’s capital may not feel like escaping the hustle and bustle, the River City has a vibe that is entirely its own. With hundreds of sunny days and even more adventures, there is a never-ending list of fun things to do in Sacramento. Spend a day walking around the city’s museums, tasting the farm-to-fork cuisine at the gourmet eateries, and exploring the charming Old Sacramento Waterfront


Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours

If small-town vibes are something you’re looking for, Carmel-by-the-Sea is your ideal vacation destination. Clear blue waters, cobblestone streets, and quaint eateries are abundant here, inviting adventures of all kinds. If you’re in the city for a romantic getaway from the Bay Area, make sure to spend a lot of time outdoors and enjoy the feel of the salty spray from the coastline on your body. To make the best out of your days spent in Carmel, enjoy an ice cream cone while meandering through the hidden courtyards and alleyways. And don’t forget to pop into the local galleries or boutiques to get a sense of the steady life in this exquisite town.

Teleport to another era in the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, home to cobblestone streets, charming eateries, and renowned art galleries along the water.


Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours

Famous for its Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17-Mile Drive, cypress trees, and pleasant year-round temperatures, Monterey is a fun vacation spot for families and couples alike. After hitting the tourist destinations and taking in the majestic scenery at the Point Pinos Lighthouse and the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary, indulge in some much-needed relaxation at one of the area’s numerous spas and hotels. Make sure to plan for a long weekend getaway here in Monterey; the town and surrounding areas have been known to extend vacations.

No trip to Monterey is complete without seeing the iconic Lone Cypress on the 17-Mile Drive and visiting the Bay Aquarium.


Distance from San Francisco: 3 hours

Mendocino is no secret getaway from the Bay Area. Its beautiful coastline and small-town charm attract people from all over the region and beyond. The quaint city is dotted with charming cottages, acres of wildflower fields, and lively forests — all worth exploring. Weekend fun in Mendocino comes in the form of hiking the best trails in SoCal, tide-pooling and trying the locally-run shops and restaurants.

The coastal city is also a perfect stop for a romantic getaway from the Bay Area. Lock hands with your boo as you hike the coastline trails of Mendocino Headlands State Park or while you pass through the wetlands, cliffs, and shrubs of Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. One thing’s for sure: you’ll never run out of beautiful vistas and cool things to do in Mendocino.

Visits to Mendocino call for coastline hike. After all, it is on foot that you get to enjoy the nature around you the most.


Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 30 minutes

If you’ve ever visited Guerneville, you’d know that this small town with a big personality is the best weekend getaway from the Bay Area you can possibly plan. The city’s location alongside the Russian River makes it the perfect place to vacation for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Fun is a given during your Wine Country getaway. Canoe, kayak, or paddleboard your way around the Russian River and bask in the breathtaking views around you. If you’d rather stay on dry land, make your way towards Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and hike between the giant redwood trees—some of them have been around for over a thousand years.

You’d think Guerneville is such a peaceful town until you see the crowded banks of the Russian River.

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