Top 10 Things To Do On Your Day Trips From San Francisco

San Francisco is a vibrant city with plenty of activities to explore in and around the area. Whether you’re planning a day trip or looking for some inspiration for your next adventure, this top 10 list of things to do on your day trips from San Francisco has something to offer everyone!

From hiking up Mount Tamalpais to exploring Muir Beach, there’s something for everyone. Let’s dive into all the exciting possibilities that await you when visiting one of America‘s most iconic cities.

10 Things To Do on Your Day Trips from San Francisco

Day trips from San Francisco can be the perfect way to get away for a day. Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat or an adventure-filled outing, there are several options available. Here are 10 great activities to consider for a memorable day trip from San Francisco:

Explore the Breathtaking scenery, Scenic trails, and Wildlife of The Marin Headlands

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PERFECT FOR: Outdoor activities, scenic views, and exploration
The Marin Headlands
The Marin Headlands

The Marin Headlands is one of the most stunning and captivating areas near San Francisco and makes for a great day trip for anyone looking to explore the outdoors. From breathtaking scenery and rolling hills to historical sites and miles of trails, this incredible area has something for everyone.

Tennessee Valley Trail: A 3.5-mile hike leading to black-sand Tennessee Beach, with coastal views and wildflowers. Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy stunning views of the coast, along with coastal scrub and wildflowers in the springtime.

Point Bonita Lighthouse: Accessible via a 0.5-mile trail, offering views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kirby Cove: Known for its photo-worthy views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pelican Inn: A Tudor-style English inn serving delicious pub fare near Muir Beach.

Coastal Trail / Miwok Trail: A 5.5-mile loop trail from Rodeo Beach through rolling hills and past the Marine Mammal Hospital.

Rodeo Beach: Ideal for a relaxing stroll after hiking.

Discover the Wonders of Point Reyes National Seashore by Kayaking, Whale-watching, and Camping

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PERFECT FOR: Exploring nature, wildlife, and beautiful coastal scenery
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes is a paradise for nature and outdoor enthusiasts, with over 80 miles of coastline and 150 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. And if you’re looking for some delicious snacks after exploring the area, there are plenty of great food options to enjoy.

Point Reyes Lighthouse: A must-visit with a 0.5-mile hike and whale-watching opportunities.

Tomales Point Trail: A 9.5-mile trail with Tule elk sightings and wildflowers.

Chimney Rock Trail: Offers rock formations and elephant seal views.

Bovine Bakery: Perfect for pastries and quick snacks.

Hog Island Oysters & Tomales Bay Oyster Company: Great spots for fresh oysters.

Cowgirl Creamery & Heidrun Meadery: Ideal for cheese lovers and mead tastings.

Also read: 7 small towns in Indiana that will ease off your stress

Climb Mt. Tamalpais for Breathtaking views, Unique hikes, and Unparalleled adventure

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PERFECT FOR: Hiking, biking, and camping
Mt. Tamalpais cloudy
Mt. Tamalpais. @Tom Hilton

Mt. Tam is a beloved mountain for locals and visitors alike, home to over 200 miles of trails and some of the best mountain biking around. The Miwok people gave it the name ‘Coast Mountain’, speaking to its immense beauty that stretches from ocean to summit. Here are a few of the most popular routes up Mt. Tam, as well as some nearby spots to visit after your adventure!

Hike to the East Peak: A scenic 3.9-mile trail leading to the summit.

Steep Ravine/Matt Davis Trail: A 7.5-mile loop through redwood forests and coastal views.

Cataract Falls: A moderate 3-mile hike to a spectacular waterfall.

Equator Coffee & Parkside Cafe: Great spots for refreshments before or after your hike.

Soar like an Eagle over Mt. Diablo State Park while Rock-climbing, Mountain Biking, and Camping

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PERFECT FOR: Hiking and enjoying breathtaking views
Mt. Diablo State Park rocks and small lake
Mt. Diablo State Park

Before heading out to Mt. Diablo, stop at Equator Coffee in Mill Valley for great coffee, tea, and an assortment of baked goods. Then hit the road and make your way up to the mountain, which stands at 3,849 feet and is one of the highest mountains in the Bay Area.

Summit and Views: Offers panoramic views from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sierra Nevada.

Rock City Area: Explore unique sandstone formations and caves.

Waterfalls of Mt. Diablo Loop Trail: Ideal for waterfall hunting in spring.

Local Dining: Recommendations for food and drinks in nearby Walnut Creek.

Taste amazing Wines in picturesque Healdsburg while exploring the Historic downtown and stunning countryside

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PERFECT FOR: Romantic getaways, world-class wine tasting, and outdoor adventures
Healdsburg @Clay Gilliland

You can’t come to the Bay Area without visiting wine country, specifically Healdsburg in Sonoma County. This is where the Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Alexander Valley growing areas all intersect and offer arguably the best all-around wine country experience.

Wine Tasting: Explore over 100 wineries and tasting rooms.

Dining Options: From Oakville Grocery to Bravas Bar de Tapas and Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar.

Activities: Art galleries, biking, and kayaking options.

Climb to Breathtaking heights and stand in awe of Yosemite's iconic Waterfalls and Towering Granite Cliffs

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PERFECT FOR: Camping, and sightseeing
yosemite rock foundation
Granite Cliffs

This magnificent corner of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is truly a magical place, boasting scenery that almost defies belief. During the last Ice Age, retreating glaciers carefully crafted granite monoliths with sheer rock walls that encircle a seven-mile-long Yosemite Valley.

Scenic Highlights: Features ancient sequoia forests, towering cliffs, and waterfalls.

Activities: Offers hiking, bird-watching, horseback riding, and more.

Accommodations: Range from rustic lodges to campgrounds.

Guided Tours: Available for those wanting a comprehensive experience.

Take a scenic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, enjoy delicious seafood, and explore the charming seaside towns of Carmel and Monterey

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PERFECT FOR: Road trips and scenic drives
Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Coast Highway

The Central Coast of California is an absolute paradise. Home to a plethora of breathtaking coastal towns, two stand out among the rest as special escapes: Carmel and Monterey. These picturesque towns offer a tranquil old-world ambiance with their stunning natural surroundings. From San Francisco, both are just a short drive away.

Scenic Beauty: Explore Carmel Beach and the historic Cannery Row in Monterey.

Activities: From 17-Mile Drive to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

Dining and Entertainment: Enjoy local seafood and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Trek through lush Redwood Forests, marvel at ancient trees and breathtaking coastal views, and explore Muir Woods Hiking Trails and Muir Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Exploring ancient redwood forests
Muir Beach
Muir Beach

A short drive north of San Francisco, just 16 miles away across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101 and winding country roads, is Muir Woods National Monument. This exceptional natural site is one of the few remaining old-growth coastal redwood forests in Northern California and offers magnificent scenery to behold.

Muir Woods Trails: Offers shaded trails through redwood forests.

Muir Beach: Features camping sites, picnic areas, and a Tudor-style inn.

Advance Reservations: Required for visiting Muir Woods National Monument.

Surf the Legendary Waves of Santa Cruz, hike through coastal trails, visit Amusement Parks and explore its vibrant nightlife

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PERFECT FOR: Enjoying the great outdoors and a laid-back beach lifestyle
santa cruz with lighthouse sunset
Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a beachfront paradise that offers plenty of activities for visitors. It was here where surfing first took place on the U.S. mainland, making it the original surf city. But besides riding the waves, visitors can also take advantage of all the other wonders this central coast city has to offer.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: Oldest seaside amusement park on the West Coast.

Outdoor Adventures: Surfing, scuba diving, paddleboarding, and kayaking.

Downtown Exploration: Shop and dine in the vibrant downtown area.

Also Read: A-Z Guide to The Best Alaska Cruise


Explore the Legendary Alcatraz Island and its fascinating history

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PERFECT FOR: Exploring the history of American imprisonment
Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island has been the center of fear, fascination, and mystery for many years. Once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, including Al Capone and Birdman, this former federal penitentiary offers visitors a unique look into the dark history of the island.

Historical Tours: Explore the infamous federal penitentiary and its history.

Scenic Views: Offers stunning views of the San Francisco Bay.

Visitor Experience: Includes a guided tour of the inner prison and grounds.

Things to Consider Before Going on Day Trips from San Francisco

San Francisco is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, making it a perfect destination for day trips. From packing the right supplies and clothes to choosing an appropriate mode of transportation and planning for activities, here are a few things to keep in mind before embarking on your day trip from San Francisco:

  • Packing the Right Supplies — Before heading out for a day trip from San Francisco, it’s important to make sure you have all the essentials. Pack plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated and fueled. Depending on the type of activities you plan to do, make sure you have the necessary supplies.
  • Choosing an Appropriate Mode of Transportation — When planning your day trip from San Francisco, it’s important to consider the type of transportation you will use. Driving is a good option if you will be staying within the city limits, but if you plan to explore outside of San Francisco, using public transportation or renting a car may be more convenient.
  • Planning for Activities — One of the best ways to make sure you have an enjoyable day trip from San Francisco is to plan activities. Research local attractions and create a detailed itinerary of places to visit so that you can make the most out of your time in the city. 

Whether you choose to explore downtown San Francisco or venture out into the surrounding area, keep these things in mind before embarking on your day trip and you are sure to have a great time. Have fun and be safe! Happy Exploring!

How Do We Pick Our Recommendations?

We take a lot of factors into consideration when picking our top things to do on your day trips. We have also recently provided recommendations for things to do in Lisbon, SoHo, Buckhead, and other locations during your day trips. We look at the attractions, activities, and experiences that are most popular among travelers. We also research what kind of scenery you will be exposed to if you choose to visit a certain spot or activity. Additionally, we take into account the local culture and history, so we can provide you with an in-depth adventure. We also consider the ease of access to each location, as well as any additional services that may be necessary for making your day trip a success. Finally, we take into consideration cost and affordability when rating activities and attractions. With these factors combined, our team members have personally visited those places to get a real hold of all the things one can do on day trips from San Francisco.

Next Read: 7 Incredible Things You Can Do In Beacon, NY

Top 10 Things To Do on Your Day Trips from San Francisco - FAQs

How far is Yosemite National Park from San Francisco?

Yosemite National Park is about 200 miles from San Francisco, making it a great weekend getaway.

What are some of the best coastal towns to visit near San Francisco?

Half Moon Bay, Bodega Bay, Point Reyes, and Monterey are some of the best coastal towns to visit near San Francisco.

What are some must-see attractions near San Francisco?

Alcatraz Island and Golden Gate Bridge are some of the must-see attractions near San Francisco.

Sara Anwar
Sara Anwar is hopdes' US director and a globetrotter. She joined the Hopdes team in July 2022. She has done more than 300,000 miles back and forth. She's been to more than 80% of the world, and her passion for understanding different cultures has only grown stronger with time. A traveler at heart, she loves to experience new cultures and learn new languages. Sara's wealth of travel experience makes her the perfect person to oversee a travel website – after all, who knows better what travelers want and need than she does?

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