Most locals agree that one of the most appealing things about San Francisco is its proximity to so many diverse landscapes and adventures, whether you’re in the mood for beaches, forests, vineyards, small towns or mountains. We asked some local experts to share their go-to day trip destinations.
Tahoe and Mendocino
When I crave mountains, Tahoe is like an escape to Switzerland with breathtaking lakes and peaks. When I crave the sea and quiet, I always get reinvigorated in Mendocino or on the Sonoma Coast in remote towns like Jenner.
Virginia Miller, food and drink editor/writer, @theperfectspot
I hike the Dipsea Trail and follow it with a Stinson Beach picnic. I drive to Stinson with all my beer, wine and picnic fare. I park early while it's sunny, around 9 am or so, then call a good old-fashioned Marin taxi. I have them take me over the hill to Mill Valley to start the two-three hour hike back over the hill to Stinson beach (7.5 miles!). By that time I'm hot, sweaty and much deserving of all the beer, wine, food and glorious beach time.
Ryan Farr, founder/CEO, 4505 Burgers & BBQ, @4505meats
I sneak to this hidden oasis down in Monterey. With the Refuge Experience, you move through the thermal cycle—sauna, cold bath dunk, relaxation fire pit, hot tub—as many times as you want. There’s no talking allowed, so I bring a book and truly disconnect. In only a few hours I feel relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed. Before heading back up to the city, I stop off in picture-perfect Carmel-by-the-Sea or hop down to take in the Big Sur views (and visit Big Sur Bakery). Truly a dream day.
This area has lots of different levels of hikes and one of the most beautiful spots to see the city and the Bay.
Hog Island Oyster Co.
I come here for a beautiful wine tasting and a walk around the photo exhibit (the largest private collection of Ansel Adams’ photography), followed by lunch at the Charter Oak (don't miss the crudités, and the rotating seasonal chicken wings are great too) then HealthSpa Napa Valley, where you can use the pool for only $20.
Right now, my favorite day trip is heading up to Napa and Sonoma. The wildfires just reminded me how much fun it is to go up there and how important it is to support a community in need by eating and drinking. I always see some amazing people there who are so passionate about what they do.
I head to Shed for a quick lunch (I love the anchovies on toast) and to shop for new gardening tools. On my way out of Healdsburg, I stop by Flying Goat Coffee for a cappuccino and take a stroll around the square, peeking in all the shop windows. I’m never one to miss a meal, so before I cross the bridge back into San Francisco, I take a detour to Fish restaurant in Sausalito for a bowl of chowder or to pick up a couple of fresh fillets to cook.
I love driving along the coast down to Pescadero, a tiny town near beautiful rocky beaches with a few cute shops, a great gas station taqueria and a dairy farm with jumping baby goats. I like to squeeze in a hike among the redwoods and banana slugs at Butano State Park too.
Rachel Ward, editor, Where San Francisco, @wanderingrachel