One of the world’s most adored destinations, San Francisco and its surrounding areas, provides unsurpassed beauty and excitement. With diversity in landscape and activities, these five day trip destinations are ideal for soaking up sunshine, admiring the ocean and getting much-needed fresh air. Love delicious eats and opportunities to shop? You’re in luck because they have that, too:
ALAMERE FALLS & STINSON BEACH
A beautiful waterfall spilling into the ocean (on a private beach!) is the reward for completing a solid 8-mile trek, and it's only a hop, skip and a jump from San Francisco. Nearby Stinson Beach is the perfect post-hike pit stop, with Parkside Cafe's sunlit patio and locally sourced food. The warm bread with pesto is a delicious starter, and the much-loved heirloom 'toy box' tomato salad always hits the spot.
HEALDSBURG & THE RUSSIAN RIVER
Not quite as well-known as some of the other Napa Valley hot spots, Healdsburg is a fantastic place to spend a day. Walk around the quaint town center, pop into some of the beautiful shops, have lunch at Chalkboard and make your way toward the wineries in the afternoon. Like a more active trip? Rent bicycles or visit the nearby Russian River.
SANTA CRUZ & CAPITOLA The southern-most stop on the list is a bit quirky and a ton of fun. A true California beach town, you'll find everything from great spots to catch a sunset to tattoo parlors and ice cream cones. Make it a point to visit the boardwalk, ride the Sky Glider, play some antiquated arcade games and visit Natural Bridges Beach. The tide pools are incredible.
SAUSALITO & THE MARIN HEADLANDS
These two stops are minutes north of San Francisco but feel like a world away once you arrive. While Sausalito offers a European resort feel with small boutiques and eateries, the Marin Headlands are an outdoor enthusiast's dream. If you like a day with some variety, try spending the morning up in the mountains and wind down with a good meal—the fire pits and pizza at Bar Bocce ($$) are awesome, while Poggio ($$$) offers a more sophisticated dining experience.
Pro Tip: Unless you're a serious cyclist, you'll need a car to visit much of the Marin Headlands. Sausalito is easily accessible by bike (a mostly flat ride across the Golden Gate Bridge) or ferry (accessible from the Ferry Building).
LAND'S END, THE SUTRO BATHS & OCEAN BEACH
The list wouldn't be complete without a day trip destination that's actually in San Francisco, so I had to include Land's End and the Sutro Baths. Not only does the Coastal Trail offer 1.7 miles of raw earth and pristine views of land & sea with a side of the Golden Gate Bridge, but it's home to flowers (callalillies!), birds (hummingbirds!), and sea life (red starfish!). Make the most of the unbeaten path, descending to Mile Rock Beach and the Labyrinth just before the end of the first mile—you won't regret the extra steps! When you've finished, soak up the sun at Ocean Beach or the Sutro Baths, which are beautiful ruins from nearly 100 years ago.
Pro Tip: There's tons of parking available at Ocean Beach, Land's End & the Sutro baths. The location is also easy to access by Uber, Lyft, and Muni.
Ready to plan your own trip to the Bay Area? Check out these rad rental options: San Francisco Bay Area Vacation Rentals