Are you on the lookout for easy weekend trips from San Francisco? Then, we’ve got you covered!
Our list of the best 12 easy weekend trips from San Francisco takes into account a range of interests, from indoors to outdoors, and motives from adventure to relaxation, so that you can enjoy your time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The options are endless, and the memories made are undeniably rewarding!
Read more about adventures in California
- The Best California Destinations Along the Pacific Ocean
- A Few of My Favourite Spots in California
- Epic 9 Day Northern California Road Trip Itinerary
Best Deals on Accommodations
- These destinations have so much to offer that you may not fit it all in during a day trip so let Booking.com help you find the best deals. So you can focus on the experiences that really make the memories!
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Best Weekend Trips from San Francisco
Life can get stressful, so why not take a trip to re-energize before returning to the grind? If you’re not interested in taking the whole weekend off, we’ve included day trips from San Francisco so that you can still treat yourself to a time full of joy and fulfillment.
1. Hope Valley
Hope Valley has joined our list of the best weekend trips from San Francisco, thanks to its rich nature and scenic outdoor activities. The perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, Hope Valley is known for its spectacular fall colors, which can be seen on Highway 89 and Luther’s Pass, fly fishing, camping, hiking, and outdoor recreational activity opportunities.
Grover Hot Springs State Park
Containing natural hot springs, Grover Hot Springs State Park is one of Hope Valley’s top attractions to take advantage of.
Found in a scenic valley on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the park stretches across 553 acres and features a campground, hiking trails, a picnic area, and a swimming pool complex that sources water from the hot springs. Jeffrey Pine forests, trickling creeks, spectacular mountain scenery, thriving nature, and abundant wildlife sighting opportunities are throughout the park.
Where to Stay in Hope Valley
Wylder Hotel Hope Valley
Touted as the best resort in the High Sierra, Wylder Hotel Hope Valley rests within the slopes of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Its location is conveniently near the famous shores of Lake Tahoe.
People from all over the world come to Wylder Hotel Hope Valley to settle down into the peaceful quiet of the mountains and adventure the great outdoors. No matter the season, there are plenty of cherished memories to be made, from fly fishing in the spring to skiing in the winter.
Grab a bite to eat at the hotel’s Sorensen’s Café with live music in the background, or sit down at the campfire and toast some s’mores. Schedule a sauna session to bask in the recuperative benefits of heat therapy. Finally, and most recommended, stargaze on your cabin porch to bask in the enormity of nature and life’s incredible grandeur.
Famous for its natural beauty, there was no way we would leave Mendocino, California, off our list of easy trips from San Francisco! Only a few hours from San Francisco, Mendocino features picturesque Redwoods, clear-water beaches, vibrant botanical gardens, and rewarding trails surrounded by thriving nature waiting to be explored!
Russian Gulch State Park
Named in honor of the Russian fur trappers who founded Fort Ross, an historic Russian-era fort designed as a National Historic Landmark, Russian Gulch State Park is only two miles from Mendocino, California.
The park features a three-mile leafy canyon, a 36-foot waterfall, a famous sea cave named Devil’s Punchbowl, impressive redwoods, and the picturesque Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge stretching over the gulch from 100 feet above. Locals and tourists come to Russian Gulch State Park to participate in various activities, including horseback riding, biking, fishing, camping, diving, swimming, and kayaking. And with 15 miles of rewarding trails to adventure, the park is a trendy area attraction.
Another excellent activity idea is this Skunk Train Wolf Tree Turn Train Ride! The historic Skunk Train takes riders on a winding route through the scenic Willits Valley, over the highest point, and into the Noyo River Canyon for a spectacularly scenic ride to absorb nature’s beauty.
Where to Stay in Mendocino
Sea Rock Inn
Sea Rock Inn offers spacious suites and private cottages along the coast of Mendocino, California, boasting picturesque ocean views.
Whether for desired solitude or a romantic getaway, these quaint cottages and suites offer serenity and intimacy surrounded by unrivaled oceanside views. Relax and unwind in the soaking tub. Settle down in front of the fireplace. Bask in the stunning views of the coastline.
Staying at Sea Rock Inn in Mendocino, California, will be one of the best romantic and relaxing weekend getaways from San Francisco you’ll ever experience.
Historically a logging community, Guerneville, California, was first established in the late 1800s thanks to the Guerne family. Guerneville is famous for its stunning ancient redwood forests, high-rated wineries and wine tastings, art galleries, boutiques, cafes, and more!
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
The Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is made up of 805 acres of coast redwood, also known as Sequoia sempervirens.
One of the tallest living beings on the planet, the ancient coast redwood can live anywhere from 500-2,000 years old, with the trees growing up to 200-350 feet in height and the diameter stretching out to 12-16 feet!
As the coast redwoods are a temperate rainforest, a mysterious fog consistently shrouds the forest for the trees to flourish. And at the reserve, you can witness the magnificence of the towering coast redwoods by adventuring on the self-guided nature trails and learning more about the ancient trees at the visitor center.
Where to Stay in Guerneville
boon hotel + spa
Catered for adults, boon hotel + spa is a boutique and modern-style hotel with various stay options, including glamping, bonito, suites, and more.
Each room’s dedicated design features high-quality materials like reclaimed teak shower mats, organic cotton robes, and coyuchi organic cotton linens for superior comfort. The seasonal pool and year-round hot tub are available to relax, as well as the on-site spa services to schedule some much-needed pamper time.
4. Napa Valley
Famous for its world-class wines, vineyards, and wineries, Napa Valley tops our list for day trips from San Francisco for all the oenophiles. However, around Napa Valley, there are other desirable and attractive qualities to enjoy, like the Michelin-star restaurants, spas, and resorts, to savor during your weekend getaway!
Castello di Amorosa
A 13th-century style medieval Tuscan-designed castle and winery, the Castello di Amorosa was built by a fourth-generation winemaker to honor his Italian heritage and passion for medieval architecture. The castle spans 121,000 square feet, or three acres, and includes four underground levels, 107 rooms, and four above-ground levels that home five towers, a moat, courtyards, a drawbridge, an armory, a torture chamber, and a chapel.
Castello di Amorosa features some of the world’s most spectacular vaulted wine cellars that home the business’s established Italian-style wines. Tours and wine tastings are available by reservation only. Enjoy a stop at Castello di Amorosa on this small group tour of local wineries.
To experience more than just wineries, we recommend this Muir Woods Redwoods and Wine Country Tour. The tour guides guests to the Muir Woods National Monument for photos, coffee, hiking, wine tastings at three different wineries, and a last stop at the Golden Gate Bridge for photo-taking opportunities.
Where to Stay in Napa Valley
Archer Hotel Napa
Located in pedestrian-friendly downtown Napa, Archer Hotel Napa is a five-star hotel presenting an unrivaled wine country appeal, stay, and experience.
Featuring a casual yet elegant setting, the hotel presents guests the opportunity to stay in luxury guest rooms and balcony-clad suites to relax and unwind on the open-air rooftop and the Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar to be paired with other popular Archer Hotel Napa dining options, Charlie Palmer Steak and Whiskey Bar, for decadent and tasteful eats paired with famous Napa Valley wines.
5. Carmel Valley
Favored for its sunny fog-free setting, Carmel Valley is a great option, thanks to its desirable year-round weather. Although Carmel Valley’s charm is seductive, the family-friendly vibes, vineyards, farms, and golf courses make for a rewarding and relaxing visit.
Moto Talbott Motorcycle Museum
A hidden gem of Carmel Valley, Moto Talbott Motorcycle Museum collects and preserves motorcycles, displaying more than 170 exclusive motorcycles sourced from 17 countries.
Robb Talbott, the founder of the Moto Talbott Motorcycle Museum, is well-known for also being the founder of the renowned Talbott Vineyards. Talbott’s passion for collecting motorcycles inspired him to open the Moto Talbott Motorcycle Museum to share his passion for motorcycles with the world.
Where to Stay in Carmel Valley
Carmel Valley Lodge
A three-acre eco-friendly stay, Carmel Valley Lodge is a local favorite serving a welcoming atmosphere for your stay in Carmel Valley.
The lodge is only a few minutes from top destinations like Big Sur and Carmel-By-The-Sea for those looking to explore. As Carmel Valley is a desired escape from the hustle and bustle of life for many worldwide, you’ll find the location’s warm and friendly ambiance just what you need to rest and recoup.
6. Big Sur
Welcoming over seven million people from across the globe, Big Sur is one of the most popular weekend trips from San Francisco. The area is popular for its turquoise waters, rocky and rugged cliff sides, scenic coastlines paired with beachside, hiking, and scuba diving activities to adventure the natural and thriving destination.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
A popular hangout for locals and tourists, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, is full of opportunity.
Many people come to the reserve to scuba dive, tan, swim, jog, and picnic. Its an excellent inspiration to sit down or adventure the reserve to paint, sightsee, study nature, and test your photography skills. Migrating gray whales, seals, sea otters, and sea lions can be seen from the coastline for a one-of-a-kind photography picture-perfect moment to catch.
As the area is home to endangered archeological sites, unique plant communities and species, a thriving community of plants and wildlife, and striking geological formations, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is highly protected and cared for to preserve these rare species and thriving organisms.
Where to Stay in Big Sur
Alila Ventana Big Sur
A five-star adults-only hotel, Alila Ventana Big Sur offers luxury, serenity, and connection with nature with unhindered views of the Big Sur coastline.
With a resort booking at Alila Ventana Big Sur, guests can take advantage of meals poolside, in-room, or at The Sur House, complimentary snacks, and reusable water bottles. And it doesn’t stop there! Guests also receive access to the fitness center and the resort’s signature experiences, including daily hikes, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi classes, and more!
If a weekend trip isn’t enough to quench your thirst for adventure,
Buckle up for this 9 day itinerary that will show you what California has to offer!
A worthwhile visit, Cambria has made our list for weekend getaways from San Francisco thanks to the location’s charming downtown area, hidden gem wineries, popular attractions like Moonstone Beach, and hiking trails. The area is full of history, culture, art, and great drink and wine, so don’t miss out on this stunning getaway location!
Stolo Vineyards & Winery
Dating back to the late 1800s, Stolo Vineyards & Winery features a nine-acre vineyard, an old dairy barn, and a farmhouse paired with high-quality wine and friendly vibes.
A gem of Cambria, the winery offers to seat guests in the tasting room or outside, surrounded by a stunning meadow. While sitting for a tasting, guests receive table service for well-priced, elegant wines paired with farm-to-table charcuterie boards.
Where to Stay in Cambria
Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach
A scenic getaway while in Cambria, Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach sets the scene for a romantic, adventurous, or leisure trip.
One of the most desirable stays featured on Moonstone Beach, this stay features sun-kissed terraces, an appealing chic design, warm fireplace settings, and beachside opportunities to take advantage of. The newly renovated rooms have upgraded the comfort level so you can settle down and relax in between adventures.
Monterey is one of the best weekend getaways from San Francisco for its numerous top-class attractions catering to history, nature, art, and seafood. The abundance of marine wildlife and fresh seafood make it a favored location for dining and wildlife conservation efforts.
Looking for a quick day trip from San Francisco? The Monterey & Carmel Explorer full-day excursion hits many of the must see spots in the Monterey and surrounding areas!
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The first aquarium to ever exhibit a kelp forest (1984), Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions in Monterey.
Settled on historic Cannery Row, the aquarium opens the window to marine life through world-class exhibits. From penguins and sea otters to sharks, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, explore the 200+ exhibits and 80,000+ plants and animals for a rewarding visit into the world’s nature and animal life under the water.
To experience Monterey Bay firsthand, consider reserving this whale-watching tour! The area is famous for its whale-watching opportunities, and on this tour, you can sight these magnificent mammals with narration provided by a marine biologist for educational insights.
Where to Stay in Monterey
InterContinental the Clement Monterey
Featuring scenic oceanside views of Monterey Bay, InterContinental the Clement Monterey, an IHG Hotel, offers the ultimate luxury surrounded by unrivaled scenery.
The waterfront hotel’s spa is perfect for unwinding and relaxing before settling into rooms that overlook the stunning Monterey Bay’s turquoise waters. The hotel’s restaurant serves Californian coastal classics with waterfront seating for the ultimate appeal during your stay in Monterey.
9. Tomales Bay
For history buffs, Tomales Bay is a great weekend trip! Home to the infamous Alcatraz Island, Tomales Bay is also famous for its fresh oysters and seafood restaurants and outdoor activities like whale watching, swimming, kayaking, and boating.
An infamously renowned attraction, Alcatraz Island served as a fort, military prison, and maximum security federal penitentiary. During its function as a federal island prison from 1934-1963, the prison was known for holding big names like Al Capone, Robert Stroud, “Birdman of Alcatraz,” and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.
Now a designated National Historic Landmark, the attraction draws millions of visitors annually. Tours are available to take in the abandoned historic structure and learn about the island’s long history. Secure your Alcatraz tour tickets as well as lunch at a local restaurant within Fisherman’s Wharf!
Where to Stay in Tomales Bay
Osprey Peak Bed & Breakfast
A secluded inn exuding a Zen-inspired Japanese farmhouse design, Osprey Peak Bed & Breakfast is settled among the sunny coastline in the thriving surrounding forest.
Ideal for couples or individuals searching for a place to relax and recoup, the inn offers three guest room options. Guests are served an organic breakfast with locally sourced ingredients to start the morning fresh before heading out to explore Tomales Bay.
One of the easiest day trips from San Francisco, Sausalito is famous for its picturesque views of the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge. The destination is also renowned for the historic Richardson Bay houseboat community, rich history, views of the bay, and top restaurants.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Conserving 82,116 acres of historically and ecologically important landscapes, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the most popular attractions in Sausalito, next to the picture-famous Golden Gate Bridge.
The park’s space supports 19 different ecosystems and 2,000+ animal and plant species. People from all over the world come to adventure through the various trails, picnic surrounded by thriving nature, take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, or learn about the centuries of history and culture that resulted in San Francisco’s explosive growth.
For a close-up of the Golden Gate Bridge, hitch a ride on this Golden Gate Bay cruise. The cruise takes riders along the breathtaking waterfront of San Francisco Bay with up-close viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island paired with award-winning commentary recounting the history of these famous attractions.
Where to Stay in Sausalito
The Inn Above Tide
The Inn Above Tide is a featured luxury hotel with access to panoramic views of San Francisco Bay.
The waterfront setting promotes intimacy and comfort no other hotel in Sausalito can initiate. Each room is designed with a modern chic aesthetic, luxurious accommodations, views of the bay and city skyline, and furnished room decks.
The hotel is only a few minutes’ walk from local art galleries, shops, and restaurants, with famous vineyards in Napa and Sonoma a short drive.
11. Lake Tahoe
Home to one of the purest water lakes in the world and one of the oldest, Lake Tahoe is one of our top recommended weekend trips from San Francisco. The area is famous for its world-famous skiing and snowboarding, paired with top-notch resorts. People from all over the world come to take a dip in Lake Tahoe’s blue sparkling waters, relax in the sun, or hike the numerous rewarding trails.
Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, Vikingsholm is a historic 38-room mansion considered one of North America’s most exemplary examples of Scandinavian architecture.
Found at the head of Emerald Bay, it’s not uncommon to find people swimming to or around the mansion’s waterfront scene.
Tours take visitors through Vikingsholm for a knowledgeable guide throughout the architecturally impressive mansion to learn more about its founding and history. Nearby are hiking trails that wind around Emerald Bay to feature more remarkable scenery.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Marriott’s Timber Lodge
A favorite resort in Heavenly Village, Marriott’s Timber Lodge features gondola access so guests can take a trip up to the mountains for skiing or snowboarding.
Nearby are opportunities to hike Mount Tallac Trail, soak and relax in Carson Hot Springs, and adventure Emerald Bay’s stunning scenery and refreshing waters. Marriott’s Timber Lodge restaurant serves Mongolian-style cuisine, with desirable accommodations like the sauna, whirlpool, outdoor pool, and more!
Home to a Michelin three-star restaurant, the French Laundry, Yountville is home to many of the top restaurants in the world, making it a desired destination by foodies and food critics. Luxury and great food await at this refined destination!
Napa Valley Aloft Hot Air Balloon Rides
A balloon ride tour agency sourced in Yountville, California, Napa Valley Aloft Hot Air Balloon Rides is the signature hot air balloon company in the area. It has been voted USA Today’s #1 Best Hot Air Balloon Company.
Experienced FAA-certified pilots pilot each hot air balloon for the utmost safety during trips over Napa Valley. After the trip, riders are invited to stay for brunch and bask in the memories of sky-high panoramic views of the area.
Where to Stay in Yountville
Maison Fleurie, A Four Sisters Inn
Found in the heart of Yountville, Maison Fleurie, A Four Sisters Inn hosts three beautifully architecturally structured and designed buildings surrounded by thriving garden landscapes to induce a feeling of sanctuary and familiarity.
The hotel and rooms all feature masterfully crafted furnishings, supreme design, and desirable accommodations for an unrivaled stay in Yountville. Bikes allow guests to ride around the area to explore the many wineries, local boutiques, and fine-dining restaurants.
Worthwhile weekend trips from San Francisco are not hard to come by, as we’ve shown above!
An array of thrilling attractions explore culture, history, art, nature, and food, combining all the different types of interests. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable trip full of adventure, relaxation, and rewarding moments on these top weekend getaways from San Francisco.
Sierra at Tahoe has great green runs for novice snow sporters as well as an Adventure Zone focused on children. They even have great lesson packages geared specifically towards beginners. Sugar Bowl is a smaller resort but with that you receive a less crowded feel as well. They have great starter runs that once you learn the ropes can transition to longer beginner runs as well as medium runs.
The 2020 Walbridge Fire burnt through the edges of the main growth only affected by low intensity, and actually beneficial burning. After 14 months of closure, the park reopened in October of 2021. So make sure you add the 1,400 year old Colonel Armstrong tree to your list of sights!
Depending on your skill level, Big Sur offers many unique spots such as Whaler’s Cove in Point Lobos, Schmieder Bank, Partington Point, Bonnie’s Rock and, if you don’t mind driving 35 miles south, Jade Cove. Known for its spectacular jade stones.
Travel Resources For Your Next Trip
If you’re in the process of planning your trip and putting together your itinerary, these are genuinely the best resources that the Going Awesome Places team stands by 100%.
Airport Parking: You’ll need a spot to leave your car at the airport so why not book a spot at a discount. Use code AWESOME7 to get at least $5 off at Airport Parking Reservations or Park Sleep Fly packages.
Hotels: Our go-to is Booking.com because they have the best inventory of properties including hotels and B&Bs. The exception is Asia where Agoda always has the best prices. TripAdvisor is also useful for reviews and bookings.
Vacation Rentals: Airbnb is the market leader but you’d be surprised how you can find cheaper deals on the lesser-known VRBO.
Travel Insurance: Learn how to buy the best travel insurance for you. This isn’t something you want to travel without.
- Insured Nomads – Popular insurance provider for frequent travelers and comes with great coverage and special perks.
- RATESDOTCA – Search engine Canadians looking for the cheapest insurance including multi-trip annual policies.
- SafetyWing – A perfect fit for long-term nomads.
- Medjet – Global air medical transportation.
- InsureMyTrip – Best for seniors, families, and those with pre-existing conditions.
If you need more help planning your trip, make sure to check out our Travel Toolbox where we highlight all of the gear, resources, and tools we use when traveling.