6 Best Day trips from San Francisco
1. Muir Woods National Monument
When you need some quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of modernity, drive down to Muir Woods and let the solitude engulf you. Crane your neck backward till it hurts, or maybe even lie down flat on the trail to try to spot the tallest leaf on the tallest branch of the towering redwood trees all around you- you might not be able to, because the tallest coastal redwood at Muir woods is 258 feet tall, and is anywhere between 600-800 years old. There is almost 10 km of hiking trails within the park ranging from easy to strenuous.
Note: Pets are not allowed inside Muir Woods, neither are picnicking, smoking or cycling!
2. Alcatraz Island
Located about 2km offshore from San Francisco, it was developed as a site for a military prison in 1828, and from 1934 to 1963, it functioned as a federal prison. The prison is famed for having held the most notorious criminals of American history like Al Capone & George "Machine Gun" Kelly. During its 29 years of operation as a federal prison, it is said that there have been no successful escapes. Out of the men who tried to escape, majority were caught alive and imprisoned again, some were shot and killed, a few drowned, and a couple are said to be missing, and believed to have drowned.
There are many tours daily to Alcatraz Island which you can take from Pier 33 at Alcatraz Landing on the Embarcadero near the intersection of Embarcadero & Bay Streets.
3. Point Bonita Lighthouse
It is located at point Bonita, at Marin Headlands, near Sausalito.This beautiful lighthouse with a stunning view is maintained by the US Coastguard.
-Parking is difficult to find, especially on weekends and public holidays.
-The almost 1km walk to the lighthouse is steep, so it can be strenuous for some.
-It is open to the public only on Sundays & Mondays from 1230-1530.
If you are at Point Bonita on any other day, you can walk up to the lighthouse and enjoy the most stunning views of the cliff and the ocean below. So walk slowly, and take in everything you see around you. This is one walk you will remember for a long time to come!
4. Carmel by the Sea
Carmel by the Sea is a small, beautiful beach town in the Monterrey Peninsula. It has a beautiful white sand beach, and a fairytale like village centre, that is nothing short of picture postcard. Travel magazines have named it one of the best beach towns in the US, and one of the best cities for romance in the world. Carmel by the Sea has great restaurants, and some of them are dog friendly too! If you are looking for an experience that is nothing short of your childhood fairytales-this is the place to visit!
5. Napa Valley
Napa Valley is a short drive away from San Francisco. It is famous for its sprawling vineyards, and world class wines. Drive to Napa, and pop in to any winery and taste their wines, take a tour of the vineyard, and enjoy a meal with the view of the sprawling vineyards. If you plan your trip ahead of time, you can enjoy a day of stomping grapes during harvest season.
If you are booking a tour into Napa, be sure to book a tour that is inclusive of the wine tastings, otherwise tasting wines at all the wineries you stop at will get very expensive. To know more about what to do in Napa Valley, read: https://www.storiesfrommybackpack.org/blog/experiencing-napa-valley
6. Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach is a 2 hour drive (187km) from San Francisco. This beautiful beach town boasts of stunning rocky coastline, and a world famous golf course that has views of Carmel Bay. The drive around Pebble Beach offers great viewpoints to some iconic landmarks on the California coast along the 17 mile drive- Ghost Tree, Bird Rock, Lone Cypress tree, and many more.
There are many tours that take you to Carmel by the Sea and Pebble Beach, so if you don't have a car to get there, I would suggest booking a tour. Be sure to check if you will have an English speaking driver/guide.
To know more about what to do in Pebble Beach, read: https://www.storiesfrommybackpack.org/blog/10-must-do-things-in-monterrey-california