Escape the City: 5 Best Day Trips North of SF

The city of San Francisco has so much to offer, but sometimes you just need to getaway. Luckily, there are so many great places to travel just outside the city. Northern California has a diverse range of options for the day-tripper. A short drive out of San Francisco will take you to a beautiful lake, a rugged coastline, or an agricultural haven.

Lake Tahoe

There is something for everyone in Lake Tahoe, making the three-hour drive from the city well worth it. Enjoy the lake itself on one of its sandy beaches or take a boat on the water to float the day away. More active travelers can choose to paddleboard, ski, or kayak on the crystal blue water. The area is also home to a variety of hiking trails when you’re ready to take your trip off the water.

Although the lake is what draws millions of tourists to the area each year, Lake Tahoe also boasts a variety of vibrant cultural and entertainment options. In addition to several wonderful museums and art galleries, the area has so many wonderful places to shop and delicious dining options to choose from.


In a city filled with history, you’ll never be bored. Whether you visit the capital city to learn about state government or take a trip to the district of Old Sacramento to get a glimpse of California’s roots in the Gold Rush, Sacramento has so much to offer. The historic city is also home to a variety of museums, covering topics from the railroad to classic art and design to California life.

Point Reyes

After a short hour-long drive out of the city, you’ll enter the rugged wilderness of Point Reyes. Flanked by Highway 1 on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, this natural wonder is home to towering redwoods, miles of untouched beaches, and enchanting wildlife. The area boasts more than 150 miles of hiking trails ranging from steep mountain climbs to lazy beach walks. And with 80 miles of shoreline, from rugged and rocky to soft and sandy, you’re sure to find a beach perfect for you.

While the natural wonders of Point Reyes are enough to keep you occupied for the entire day, you shouldn’t leave the area without viewing its historic lighthouse. Situated on top of a rocky cliff, views from the lighthouse are magnificent, making it a prime location for bird watching or whale sightings. 

Napa Valley

In just two hours, you could be out of the city and sipping wine at an award-winning winery in Napa Valley. While wine is often the reason for visiting this picturesque area, Napa Valley has so much more to offer its guests. Each town has its own claim to fame. If you’re searching for a relaxing spa getaway, visit Calistoga, which is known for its hot springs. For high-end shopping and gourmet cuisine, take a trip to Napa. And for a culinary escape, St. Helena is the place to visit.

No matter which town you choose to spend your day in, you’re sure to have an amazing trip. Napa Valley has a range of activities to choose from, making it perfect for any traveler. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking and biking trails, kayaking on Napa River, or viewing some of the area’s amazing natural landmarks. Sports lovers will enjoy the plethora of championship golf courses or a selection of beautiful tennis courts. And art lovers can take in the amazing art galleries, local history museums, and performing arts venues.


Home to towering redwoods and picturesque coastlines, Mendocino has a lot to offer San Francisco travelers. Travel to the area to view the expansive redwood forests and rugged coastline on foot, in your car, or on the popular Skunk Train. Mendocino County’s magnificent landscapes are matched by its quaint villages. With an abundance of delicious local wines, unique boutiques, and delectable gourmet cuisine, this charming area is the perfect option for a day trip away from the city.



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