Planning a vacation to the Bay Area and worried about ‘seeing it all’ during your time? Local to the Bay, but tired of your same weekend routine? No need to panic – there are a ton of incredible places to visit around San Francisco that you can turn around in just one day. Here are three of our best suggestions for fun day trips to make during your visit to SF to help you get the most out of your trip.
Just an hour north of San Francisco, you’ll find this incredible peninsula that appeals not just to adventurers and nature lovers, but also to foodies. This insanely beautiful nature reserve is full of impressive hiking trails and is steeped in local history. It’s best to arrive by car, so hop on the 1 and drink in all that gorgeous coastline along the way.
While there’s plenty to keep you entertained, the real jewel of this place is its incredible views. Stretching down the Northern California coastline, the Point Reyes seashore boasts jaw-dropping views out across the Pacific Ocean.
Get up close and personal with northern Cali’s rugged nature with around 150 miles of hiking trails within the Point Reyes National Seashore. The Tomales Point trail is a top pick for animal-lovers and general majestic view-seekers. As well as stunning views, expect to spot wild elk along your way.
For more wildlife and some fun on the water, take a kayak tour from Tomales Bay and see if you can spot otters and harbor seals. The Point Reyes Lighthouse, complete with visitor’s center, is also not one to be missed, and makes for a great photo op nestled into the rock.
But don’t just get sidetracked by the stunning scenery. Food is also a big part of Point Reyes, and is not one to be missed.
The area has a long tradition of dairy farming that is still alive and well today. And you know what that means…cheese! And lots of it. Don’t miss out on getting your dairy fill – stop by Tomales Bay Foods in the town of Point Reyes Station. Here you can see some cheese-making in action from the folks at the award-winning Cowgirl Creamery. Stock up on all your picnic provisions and sit down right outside the Creamery, or head back up to the trail for lunch with an unforgettable view.
Point Reyes is also famous for its many oyster farms. Since you already have hundreds of perfect backdrops for lunch, why not grab your oysters from Tomales Bay Oyster Company to go and hit the beach with your loved ones for a decadent picnic.
Muir Woods and Sausalito
A trip to the bay area can’t be complete without a trip to some of the most amazing trees you’ll ever lay your eyes on. What’s that? You don’t think you could be mesmerised, enchanted and blown away by a tree? Think again.
The world-famous Muir Woods is a must-do for any SF visitor (or local!) and is at the top of many Bay Area bucket lists. And with good reason. This incredible forest features nationally protected redwood trees that stand over 250ft tall. A perfect trip for families, the woods have around 6 miles of easy hiking trails. The Main Trail is especially perfect for kids, strollers and those with disabilities, making it easy for everyone to breathe in that forest smell and take in the surroundings.
Just 12 miles outside of San Francisco, this gem is super easy to get to. But be warned, the woods can get crowded and parking can be sparse. Reservations are required for anyone traveling via car or shuttle, and spots can get filled fast, so make sure you plan in advance.
Another option is to save yourself the hard work and take a day tour from San Francisco. This is also a great way to hit up a few great sights all in one, no planning required!
Combine your day trip with a stop in Sausalito, a cute little town close to Muir Woods. This area just beyond the Golden Gate bridge is perfect to spend an afternoon, and is often a pit-stop on the previously mentioned private tours out of San Francisco. If you decide to opt out of an organized tour, here are our top recommendations:
Check out Vista Point, just a short drive out of Sausalito, for awesome views of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge. While there, visit Fred’s Coffee Shop for their famous “millionaire’s bacon”. Hit up Rodeo Beach for a stroll on its majestic-feeling black sands, and if you’re (really really really) lucky, you may just spot a dolphin on your travels. Peruse locally-owned shops and restaurants on the Sausalito boardwalk. Though it can get busy in summer, Sausalito is a perfect little escape from the chaos of San Francisco.
Big trees, dolphins and bacon. Name a more perfect combination for a day trip. We’ll wait.
The California Delta
Outdoor enthusiasts, take note: the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is full of activities and exploring opportunities. An intricate network of canals and waterways that run for around 1000 miles, the Delta is a lesser-known jewel of the bay area. It’s perfect for bird-watchers, fishing aficionados and water-lovers in general.
Just a couple hours’ drive from SF, there is so much to do and so many little towns to hit in the Delta that you could easily extend your day trip into a weekend trip (or beyond!). But if you’re short on time, there are a few highlights you shouldn’t miss.
The towns of Isleton and Walnut Grove are good places to stop when arriving from San Francisco. Don’t miss the local crawdad (kind of like mini-lobsters or crayfish, and famous across the Delta), and local ice cream at Mel’s Mocha & Ice-Cream.
You can rent a kayak or head out on a guided tour from pretty much all of the towns in the Delta. It’s agreed by pretty much everyone who visits there that the best way to explore the intricate estuaries and waterways is to paddle them at your own pace.
On the way back, take a loop and head towards Rio Vista. Take the short ferry and head through Ryer Island for a drive through tranquil roads with some awesome views. From Rio Vista you can also head by boat to some of the best wildlife areas for a little bird-spotting.
The Delta is a great way to get off the beaten path and explore some of the less well-trodden areas surrounding San Francisco, and with a whole bunch of activity options, it’s perfect for families and groups looking for a crowd-pleasing day trip!
Three awesome day trips, and endless opportunities to make your trip to the Bay extra special. San Francisco is not just one of the U.S.’s most enjoyable cities. It’s also the perfect jumping off point for discovering some of the best views, activities and nature-inspired experiences that Northern Cali has to offer.
Looking for more things to do on your trip to San Francisco? Peek.com is the place to find tons of unforgettable experiences!