San Francisco is recognized around the world for landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. While San Francisco offers an array of captivating destinations to explore — including Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Park, and the culturally diverse Mission District — there are endless options for those seeking a weekend trips from San Francisco, the City by the Bay.
If that sounds like you, we have exactly what you’re looking for with nine of the best weekend destinations from the San Francisco Bay Area. To help you choose, we’ve listed them by distance from the city so these can be road trips from San Francisco or among the best day trips from San Francisco. There are even farther away spots if you are looking for some of the best weekend getaways from San Francisco, such as Portland, Oregon.
Quick Answer: 9 Best Weekend Getaways From San Francisco
Best Day Trips From San Francisco
- Best for wine enthusiasts - Napa Valley
- Best for nature lovers - Muir Woods National Monument
- Best for beach lovers - Santa Cruz
Best Road Trips From San Francisco
- Best for outdoor adventurers - Yosemite National Park
- Best for couple's getaway - Monterey
- Best for outdoor recreationalists - Lake Tahoe
Best Weekend Trips From San Francisco
- Best for food and craft beer lovers - Portland
- Adventure-seeking families - San Diego
- Best for wine lovers and couples looking for a romantic retreat - Santa Barbara
Best Day Trips From San Francisco
If you're short on time but eager to escape and explore a new destination within a two-hour drive from San Francisco, these day trips are ideal for you. They offer the opportunity to experience somewhere fresh and exciting without requiring an extensive time commitment.
1. Napa Valley
- Perfect For: Wine enthusiasts
- Highlights of Napa Valley:
- Wineries and vineyards
- Culinary delights
- Hot air balloon rides
Things to Do in Napa Valley
In Napa Valley, you can indulge in world-class wine-tasting experiences at renowned wineries and vineyards, where you can sample a wide variety of award-winning wines.
Explore the Opus One Winery, known for its exceptional Bordeaux-style blends. With its stunning architecture and picturesque surrounds, a visit to Opus One offers a delightful combination of wine tasting and a luxurious ambiance.
For a memorable dinner, head to The French Laundry, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Yountville. With its exquisite cuisine and impeccable service, it’s no wonder this restaurant is consistently ranked among the best in the world.
For a unique experience, consider taking a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards, offering breathtaking aerial views of wine country, Russian River, and the gorgeous Napa and Somona counties. Companies like Napa Valley Balloons provide thrilling and scenic flights that allow you to take in the beauty of the region from a unique perspective.
If you're interested in art, a visit to the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is a must. Located in Carneros, the center showcases a diverse collection of contemporary artworks in a serene and lovely setting.
To complete your Napa Valley experience, don't miss out on the charming town of St. Helena. Take a leisurely stroll through Main Street, lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and cafes. Book a table at The Charter Oak, which focuses on family-style dishes and showcases a menu featuring seasonal ingredients and the best of California cuisine. Afterward, unwind and relax at one of the many luxurious spas in the area, such as the Meadowood Spa, where you can indulge in rejuvenating treatments amidst the beautiful Napa Valley landscape.
How to Get to Napa Valley
To get to Napa Valley from San Francisco, you can drive north across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and continue on Highway 101 or take the scenic route via Highway 29, which will take you directly into the heart of Napa Valley. The drive takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on traffic and your specific destination.
Where to Stay in Napa Valley
This recently renovated one-bedroom condo is located on the main property at the Silverado Resort in the Town of Napa. Get access to resort amenities including a championship golf course, tennis courts, multiple swimming pools, and a full-service spa.
You might also consider River Terrace Inn. Situated along the Napa River in downtown Napa, this boutique hotel offers stylish rooms, a riverside patio, a complimentary wine reception, and easy access to the best of wine country including downtown dining and entertainment options.
2. Muir Woods National Monument
- Perfect For: Nature lovers
- Highlights of Muir Woods:
- Majestic towering redwoods
- Peaceful trails
- Calming serenity
Things to Do in Muir Woods
Located just north of San Francisco, Muir Woods offers a peaceful retreat amidst the majestic beauty of towering coastal redwoods. It's a perfect destination for nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil escape.
One must-visit destination within Muir Woods is Cathedral Grove, where you can find some of the tallest trees in the park. Additionally, the Muir Woods Visitor Center provides insightful exhibits and information about the park's history and ecosystem to enrich your visit.
After exploring the tranquil trails of Muir Woods, you can indulge in a delicious meal at The Pelican Inn, located nearby at Muir Beach. This charming, English-style pub serves up a delectable menu inspired by British fare, offering a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
Before leaving Muir Woods, stop by the Muir Woods Trading Company, a gift shop located at the entrance of the park. Here, you can find a variety of unique souvenirs, including locally crafted jewelry, books about the redwoods, and nature-inspired artwork. The shop also offers practical items such as hiking gear and picnic supplies, making it convenient for you to pick up any essentials for your visit. Remember to explore the shop's outdoor deck, where you can enjoy scenic views while browsing through the selection of merchandise.
How to Get to Muir Woods
To get to Muir Woods from San Francisco, you can take a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and follow signs for Highway 101 North. After approximately 10 miles, take the exit for Muir Woods/Mill Valley and follow the signs to reach Muir Woods National Monument.
Alternatively, you can also take public transportation by catching a Golden Gate Transit bus from San Francisco to Muir Woods, or join a guided tour that provides transportation to and from the park.
Where to Stay by Muir Woods
Want to stay somewhere as peaceful as the woods? Check out this one-bedroom Airbnb bungalow in Stinson Beach. Located in the center of Stinson Beach Village, this cottage features an outdoor garden sitting area with a fire pit, designated parking spot, and quick access to the beach, restaurants, shops, and more.
You should also consider the Mill Valley Inn. Located in the charming small town of Mill Valley, this boutique hotel offers comfortable rooms, complimentary breakfast, and a peaceful garden courtyard. It's a short drive from Muir Woods and provides easy access to other attractions in Marin County.
3. Santa Cruz
- Perfect For: Beach lovers
- Highlights of Santa Cruz:
- Beauty of the California Coast
- Gorgeous sunsets
- World-class surfing
Things to Do in Santa Cruz
In Santa Cruz, you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and embrace the vibrant surf culture by catching waves or simply lounging by the shore.
Visit the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a historic beachside amusement park. Enjoy thrilling rides like the Giant Dipper roller coaster or take a stroll along the vibrant boardwalk, indulging in cotton candy and soaking up the lively atmosphere. Head to nearby Natural Bridges State Beach for a relaxing day by the ocean in the sun.
Santa Cruz is also home to a vibrant food scene. Visit the renowned West End Tap & Kitchen, located in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, for a delicious meal paired with craft beer. Their menu showcases locally sourced ingredients and features dishes such as wood-fired pizzas and creative small plates. For a taste of fresh seafood, head to the Santa Cruz Harbor and dine at The Crow's Nest. This waterfront restaurant offers stunning views of the harbor, along with a diverse menu that includes delectable seafood specialties and cocktails.
For a unique experience, make sure to visit the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, a fascinating gravitational anomaly that has been baffling visitors for decades. Take a guided tour through the forested area and witness strange phenomena that defy the laws of physics.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains. Explore the natural wonders of Santa Cruz by hiking through the majestic Northern California redwood forests, visiting the serene state parks, or taking a scenic drive. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park offers scenic hiking trails, majestic redwood groves, and the chance to witness the impressive 275-foot tall Santa Cruz Big Tree, one of the tallest trees in the area.
How to Get to Santa Cruz
To get to Santa Cruz from San Francisco, you can take Highway 1 South along the Pacific Ocean and follow the signs for Santa Cruz. The drive takes approximately 90 to 120 minutes, depending on traffic.
Alternatively, you can also take a scenic route along Highway 17 South, which takes you through the Santa Cruz Mountains, providing picturesque views before reaching the city of Santa Cruz.
Where to Stay in Santa Cruz
Get some rest at this one-bedroom Airbnb Capitola Nest. Centrally located near Capitola Village, Gayle’s Bakery, and Nob Hill grocery, this comfortable and convenient space is newly renovated and a short drive from downtown Santa Cruz.
Prefer to stay in a hotel? Book the Dream Inn Santa Cruz. Situated right on Cowell Beach, this beachfront hotel features spacious rooms with balconies offering stunning ocean views. It offers direct beach access, a heated outdoor pool, a restaurant, and a rooftop terrace.
Best Road Trips From San Francisco
If you have a little more time available, I suggest considering these nearby weekend road trips that involve fewer than 5 hours of driving but still lead to incredible destinations.
4. Yosemite National Park
- Perfect For: Outdoor adventurers
- Highlights of Yosemite:
- Iconic landscapes
- Diverse wildlife
- Amazing hiking trails
Things to Do in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park is a natural wonderland known for its breathtaking landscapes and outdoor adventures. One must-visit destination within the park is Yosemite Valley, where you can witness iconic landmarks like El Capitan and Half Dome. Take a scenic drive along Glacier Point Road to enjoy gorgeous views of the valley from above.
For a memorable dining experience, indulge in a meal at The Ahwahnee Dining Room. Located within the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, this restaurant offers a blend of elegance and stunning views, along with a menu featuring gourmet dishes inspired by the park's surroundings.
When it comes to hiking, Yosemite has a multitude of trails for all skill levels. One popular trail is the Mist Trail, which takes you to the base of the majestic Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. Be prepared to get wet as you ascend the trail, with mist from the cascading waterfalls refreshing you along the way.
For a more challenging adventure, embark on the Half Dome hike, a strenuous but rewarding trail that culminates with amazing panoramic views from the top. Note that a permit is required to hike Half Dome, and it's important to plan and prepare accordingly.
To delve deeper into the natural beauty of Yosemite, explore the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. This grove is home to over 500 mature giant sequoia trees, including the famous Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree. Take a leisurely walk among these ancient giants and marvel at their immense size and beauty.
Additionally, make sure to visit Glacier Point, which offers stunning vistas of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the surrounding mountains. The view from Glacier Point is particularly magnificent during sunrise or sunset, when the warm hues of the sky enhance the natural beauty of the landscape.
How to Get to Yosemite
To get to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco, you can drive east on Interstate 580 and connect to Highway 120, also known as the Tioga Road. Follow this scenic route through the park's Big Oak Flat Entrance, which takes approximately three to four hours, depending on traffic and conditions.
Alternatively, you can take a bus or join a guided tour that provides transportation from San Francisco to Yosemite.
Where to Stay in Yosemite
Prefer to stay away from the campgrounds? Stay at this newly remodeled Airbnb at Yosemite West Condos inside of Yosemite Valley. As an added bonus, you won’t need separate reservations to enter the Park, because you’ll already be staying inside the Park boundaries.
Or consider the Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the park's western border, this rustic lodge offers cozy cabins and wood-paneled rooms. It provides a restaurant, tavern, outdoor recreation options, and a serene natural setting.
- Perfect For: A couple's getaway
- Highlights of Monterey:
- Charming downtowns
- Waterfront vistas
- Plenty of golfing opportunities
Things to Do in Monterey
Explore the charming coastal towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Visit the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, home to a diverse array of marine life from otters to stingrays. Immerse yourself in fascinating exhibits showcasing mesmerizing jellyfish and playful sea otters.
Take a stroll along Cannery Row, a vibrant waterfront district lined with shops, restaurants, and galleries. Grab a bite to eat at the popular seafood restaurant, The Fish Hopper, where you can savor fresh catches while enjoying ocean views. Explore the enchanting gardens and art galleries of the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. Additionally, consider a visit to the Monterey State Historic Park, which features beautifully restored adobe buildings and offers insight into the region's past.
For nature lovers, a visit to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a must. This wonderful coastal park boasts stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and scenic hiking trails. Explore the coastal trails to discover hidden coves, unique rock formations, and dramatic vistas. Keep an eye out for sea lions, harbor seals, and migrating whales. You can also book a whale watching tour with Princess Monterey Whale Watching.
Another popular destination is the 17-Mile Drive, a scenic road that winds through the picturesque Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. Enjoy gorgeous coastal views, visit iconic landmarks like the Lone Cypress, and take in the beauty of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.
How to Get to Monterey
To get to Monterey from San Francisco, you can drive south on Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. The drive along the coast offers beautiful scenic views and takes approximately two to three hours, depending on traffic and route.
Or you can also take a direct bus from San Francisco to Monterey, with several transportation companies offering this route.
Where to Stay in Monterey
Book this cozy cottage in the Sand City on the Monterey Peninsula. A short drive from downtown Monterey, this charming Airbnb offers parking and easy access to nearby essentials including restaurants, breweries, and more.
I also recommend the Portola Hotel & Spa. Situated in the heart of downtown Monterey, this hotel provides convenient access to shops, restaurants, and attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It offers modern rooms, a spa, a rooftop pool, and multiple dining options including a craft brewery.
6. Lake Tahoe
- Perfect For: Outdoor recreation
- Highlights of Lake Tahoe:
- Water sports and boating
- Skiing and snowboarding
- Lavish resorts
Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
In Lake Tahoe, you can indulge year-round in a multitude of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding. Start by exploring the Emerald Bay State Park, home to Fannette Island and the crystal-clear waters of Emerald Bay.
Take a scenic hike along the Rubicon Trail for panoramic views of the lake. Afterward, head to Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge, a charming lakeside eatery known for its delicious cuisine and beautiful views. Indulge in fresh seafood dishes while soaking in the tranquil ambiance.
Rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe. Another popular activity is hiking the Mount Tallac Trail, which offers excellent vistas of the lake and surrounding mountains. The trail is challenging but rewards hikers with awe-inspiring scenery and a sense of accomplishment. Don't forget to pack a picnic and enjoy a scenic lunch amidst the beauty of nature.
To experience the vibrant culture and entertainment of Lake Tahoe, visit the South Lake Tahoe area. Explore the lively Heavenly Village, filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Catch a live performance at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival during the summer season, where you can enjoy Shakespearean plays against the backdrop of the lake.
For an exceptional dining experience, try Evan's American Gourmet Café, a renowned restaurant in South Lake Tahoe known for its innovative and artfully prepared dishes. Indulge in a delectable meal paired with an extensive wine selection.
During the winter season, Lake Tahoe transforms into a winter wonderland, providing opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other snow activities in the surrounding ski resorts. Hit the slopes at world-class ski resorts such as Heavenly, Palisades Tahoe, or Northstar, where you can experience thrilling downhill skiing or snowboarding on powdery slopes.
How to Get to Lake Tahoe
To get to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco, you can drive east on Interstate 80 and continue towards the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The drive takes approximately three to four hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions.
Alternatively, you can also take a flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO), which is located about an hour's drive from Lake Tahoe.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Book this one-bedroom Airbnb guesthouse in Cave Rock and retire from your daytime adventures to lake view sunsets on the balcony. This space is newly renovated and features all of the amenities you need to relax while being only 10 minutes from South Lake Tahoe and 30 minutes from the North Shore.
Rather stay in a hotel? I recommend the Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe. Escape to the South Shore of Lake Tahoe where this lodge offers comfortable rooms with lake or mountain views. It features a private beach, outdoor pool, hot tubs, fireplaces, a waterfront restaurant, and is close to the Heavenly Village and ski resort.
Best Weekend Trips From San Francisco
Prefer to hop on a plane instead of in the car? Here are a few options for two- to three-hour flights that each offer their own unique blends of memorable experiences and thrilling adventures.
7. Portland, Oregon
- Perfect For: Food and craft beer lovers
- Highlights of Portland:
- Quirky neighborhoods
- Plenty of craft beers
- Farm-to-table food options
Things to Do in Portland
Enjoy a weekend in Portland, Oregon, known for its eclectic mix of food carts, craft breweries, and unique neighborhoods.
Start your exploration by visiting Powell's City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world. Get lost among the stacks of books and discover literary treasures. Don't forget to explore the local breweries, such as Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House and Cascade Brewing, where you can sample a variety of craft beers and soak up the lively atmosphere.
Visit Washington Park, a sprawling urban park that houses attractions like the stunning International Rose Test Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, and the Oregon Zoo. If you're up for a scenic drive, make your way to Multnomah Falls, a majestic waterfall located in the Columbia River Gorge (the park has implemented timed entry, so choose a time before you go). Hike to the top for panoramic views or simply admire the cascading beauty from the base.
Spend a day wandering through the quirky streets of the Pearl District, filled with art galleries, boutiques, and trendy restaurants. Visit the Portland Saturday Market, the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States, where you can browse unique crafts, enjoy live music, and sample delicious local treats.
For an immersive food experience, check out the food cart pods scattered throughout the city, such as Cartopia and Hawthorne Asylum, where you can savor a wide range of culinary delights from around the world.
How to Get to Portland
Flying from San Francisco to Portland is a convenient option for traveling between the two cities. Several airlines offer direct flights between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Portland International Airport (PDX), making your journey quick and efficient, with the average flight being only around two hours.
Where to Stay in Portland
Want the convenience of home away from home? Stay in this studio Airbnb located in the heart of the eclectic Hawthorne District and enjoy easy access to some of Portland’s best restaurants, cafes, bookstores, breweries, and more.
Positioned in the heart of downtown Portland, The Paramount Hotel provides comfortable and well-appointed rooms. It offers a fitness center, a restaurant, and is within walking distance to popular attractions like Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Portland Art Museum.
8. San Diego
- Perfect For: Adventure-seeking families
- Highlights of San Diego:
- Swimming and sunbathing
- Compelling museums
- World-famous San Diego Zoo
Things to Do in San Diego
Fly down to sunny San Diego and soak up the Southern California vibes. Spend a day at Coronado Beach, known for its pristine white sand and picturesque views of the iconic Hotel del Coronado. Take a leisurely walk along the shoreline, soak up the sun, or try your hand at water sports such as surfing or paddleboarding.
Another must-visit destination is La Jolla, home to beautiful coastal cliffs, sea caves, and marine life. Explore the tide pools at La Jolla Cove, where you can spot colorful marine creatures, or take a kayak tour to discover the enchanting sea caves along the coastline.
Explore Balboa Park, a sprawling urban park that houses several museums, beautiful gardens, and the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. Take a leisurely stroll through the park, visit the Botanical Building, and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history. For a memorable dining experience, head to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, where you can find an array of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. Don't miss the chance to indulge in fresh seafood at The Fish Market, known for its waterfront location and delectable dishes.
For a taste of the local craft beer scene, head to the vibrant neighborhood of North Park. Visit Modern Times Flavordome, a popular brewery known for its innovative and flavorful brews, or stop Fall Brewing Company, known for its lineup of creative and delicious beers.
How to Get to San Diego
Flying from San Francisco is a quick and easy way to travel to San Diego. There are a number of airlines with direct flights from SFO to San Diego International Airport (SAN), with an average flight time of only one to two hours.
Where to Stay in San Diego
Located on the scenic Mission Bay, The Dana offers comfortable rooms and suites with views of the bay or gardens. It features a tropical-themed pool area, a restaurant, a marina, and is just a short drive from popular attractions like Belmont Park and the San Diego Zoo.
9. Santa Barbara
- Perfect For: Wine lovers and couples looking for a romantic retreat
- Highlights of Santa Barbara:
- Historic downtown
- Plenty of beautiful beaches
- Stearns Wharf
Things to Do in Santa Barbara
Live in the moment when you reach this Central Coast gem halfway between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo.
Explore the historic Stearns Wharf, where you can find shops, fresh seafood restaurants, and panoramic views of the coastline. For a delightful dining experience, visit The Lark, a popular restaurant located in the Funk Zone. Known for its farm-to-table cuisine and trendy atmosphere, The Lark offers a menu of seasonal dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
Wander along the historic State Street Promenade, the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, lined with charming boutiques, art galleries, and cultural landmarks. Visit the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a stunning Spanish-Moorish style building that offers glorious views from its clock tower. Stop by the Old Mission Santa Barbara, a beautiful Spanish colonial-style church with beautiful gardens and fascinating history.
For wine enthusiasts, a journey along the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail is a must. Explore the numerous tasting rooms in the downtown area and sample a wide range of wines from the region's acclaimed vineyards.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the sandy beaches and picturesque mountain landscape of Santa Barbara. Head to Butterfly Beach, a tranquil stretch of the coast with lovely views of the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands. Explore the trails of the Santa Ynez Mountains, such as Inspiration Point or Seven Falls, for pretty views of the city and the coastline.
How to Get to Santa Barbara
Flying from San Francisco to Santa Barbara provides a seamless option for reaching the coastal city. Several airlines offer straight shots from SFO to Santa Barbara Airport (SBA), with a flight time of only one hour before landing in this paradise.
Where to Stay in Santa Barbara
Want to book a room as beautiful as the rest of Santa Barbara? Check out this unique one-bedroom cottage on 3 acres of private land. Enjoy the property’s bath house, pool, hot tub, hammock, and quick access to the beach, trails, wine-tasting rooms, and downtown Santa Barbara.
Or rest in paradise at the Santa Barbara Inn. Located directly across from the beach, the Inn offers cozy and well-appointed rooms with ocean or garden views. It features a pool, a fitness center, a restaurant, and is a short drive from downtown Santa Barbara and Stearns Wharf.
No matter how much time you have or where you’d like to go, you can’t go wrong with the endless number of options for a weekend getaway from San Francisco!