There’s so much to see and do in San Francisco that you could easily fill a holiday with just attractions in the city.
But there’s lots to explore in the northern California area. From neighbouring cities with completely different atmospheres to San Francisco, to small nature spots and world-class national parks, there are plenty of reasons to take a step outside of San Francisco city.
If you fancy driving, you could rent a car and check out some of these attractions. If you’re not keen in driving yourself, you can always join in tours or take public transport to reach them.
Located very close to San Francisco, Oakland is the city across the bay. People visit to enjoy the museums, historical sites, arts, boutique and vintage stores and to bask in the sun that is so often hidden by fog in San Francisco!
Oakland is a very ethnically diverse city with a strong African American community, so there are plenty of delicious cuisines to try and a strong city spirit. Other popular attractions are the waterfront, Lake Merritt and the Oakland Hills.
One of the most liberal places in the US, Berkley was the leader of the free speech and disability rights movements. It is the home of the University of California and has been a place of intellectual discourse for decades. It is also home to an activist population that forefronts environmental and political movements.
Things to do in Berkley include the Berkeley Art Museum, Telegraph Avenue’s shops and restaurants and Tilden Park.
- Napa Valley
The Napa Valley is a sensory experience. You’ll be able to see the spectacular scenery of the vineyards, smell the delicious wines and sample some of the best food in the area. Take part in a self-guided tour around the valley or do a Napa Valley organised tour to get some backstage access to the wineries and vineyards.
With beautiful hills dotted with lush vineyards, the Napa Valley is a photographer’s dream. There are over 400 wineries in the Napa Valley, 95% of which are family-owned. There are some spectacular Californian wines to sample around the area.
And the food; whether you fancy typical American cuisine, quaint brunch spots or quality farm to table restaurants, Napa Valley is famous for its absolutely delicious cuisine, served in one of a kind bars and restaurants.
It is only an hour from San Francisco to the south end of the Napa Valley, which makes it a fantastic day trip from the city.
- Silicon Valley
A day trip to Silicon Valley, while not on every traveller’s wish list for San Francisco, is a very worthwhile visit if you’re technologically inclined. Silicon Valley refers to a very large area, and there are different places to visit, depending on your interests. You’ll need a hire car to check out Silicon Valley.
One great spot to visit is Stanford University where innovations started out. The Menlo Park Facebook Campus is where the entire social media story started – but you can’t go in unless you know someone who works there. However, anyone can get their photo taken with the “Like” sign!
The Google campus is home to a replica of San Francisco’s most famous attraction. The Google Gate Bridge is a fantastic photo opportunity as are the statues outside.
- Muir Woods
If you fancy a nature getaway close to the city, check out Muir Woods. Named after John Muir, the woods are home to lots of walking and biking trails for all capabilities.
The woods are beautiful, often covered in an enigmatic fog and dotted with coastal redwoods. Some of the trees are over 200 feet tall and more than 600 years old.
There is limited parking on site, so if you want to visit the Muir Woods for a day, be sure to get there early. At just 50 minutes from San Francisco (over the Golden Gate Bridge), they are an easy trip.
- Yosemite National Park
This world-famous national park is possible as a day trip from San Francisco (although you may prefer to do it as an overnight trip). With many hiking trails, waterfalls and other natural phenomena, the national park is absolutely bursting with exciting things to do.
The park is famous for waterfalls; for example, Nevada Falls is a spectacular photography spot. El Capitan is another favourite for rock climbing. Some of the best short hikes are Glacier Point, Lower Mariposa Grove and Tuolumne Meadows.
While it is possible to visit Yosemite on a day trip from San Francisco, it is better to do it as an overnight trip as the national park is located around 3 hours from the city.
- Santa Cruz
A thrilling beachside town, Santa Cruz offers a different atmosphere from San Francisco’s beaches. With a boardwalk and amusement park, the fun beach town has plenty to offer for people of all ages.
Take a sea kayak out or do the beautiful coastal drive. Santa Cruz also has excellent surfing, with waves rolling off the Pacific Ocean.
At two hours from San Francisco, you’ll have to leave early for a day trip to Santa Cruz, but it is definitely doable.
Categories: Destinations - USA