Travel Guides

The Ultimate Day Trip From San Francisco: 6 Options For When You’re Heading North of the City

5 months ago by Kimia

Looking to escape the drizzly San Francisco weather for the day? Hey, no shame in that game! You’ve got plenty of options north of the Golden Gate. From playing bocce ball in Sausalito to traversing wine country in search of glorious Italian vino (and with plenty of Instagram-friendly stops in between), here are 6 options for when you’re planning a day trip north of San Francisco.

1. Sausalito – Bar Bocce

There’s nothing better than escaping the San Francisco fog (sorry, @KarlTheFog, we still love you!) and enjoying a fun day outside with friends in the city’s beautiful northern neighbor, Sausalito. Bar Bocce’s amazing location near the bay means you get incredible views while playing bocce ball! This goes without saying, but this is a fun activity for large parties; the more the merrier.

2. Point Reyes National Seashore

Option 1: Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse

The historical Point Reyes lighthouse is a must-see while exploring in the area. Heads up, though: The hike can be strenuous, as you’ll have to climb hundreds of steps (306, to be exact), to get to the shuttle stop that will take you to the top of the lighthouse itself. That said, the views from Point Reyes Lighthouse are absolutely spectacular.

Pro tip: Bring layers and/or a windbreaker — it gets pretty cold and windy up there!

Option 2: Alamere Falls (Bolinas)

Talk about breathtaking! If you love exploring new trails, you won’t want to miss hiking up to the stunning Alamere Falls. Be sure to get there early. The 8.4-mile-long hike should take 4 ½-5 hours to complete, with the main waterfall taking around 2 hours to get to. Be warned: You’ll want to either wear or bring long pants and layers, as there are reports of poison oak on this trail.

Cypress Tree Tunnel

Be sure to make a quick pit-stop at the Cypress Tree Tunnel on your way to Alamere Falls. It’s a highly Instagrammable spot for a reason — hey, it be like that sometimes! With Monterey cypress trees that were planted around 1930, these majestic trees offer a uniquely beautiful natural setting and photo opportunity.

Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Famished after all that exploring? Next up, head over to Tomales Bay Oyster Company for the picnic experience of your life, where you’ll get the chance to shuck your own fresh oysters. Plan ahead and bring your own supplies, such as utensils, an oyster shucking knife, coal for the BBQs, and anything else you think you may need.

3. Sonoma

Sonoma Plaza

Did you know that the historical Sonoma Plaza was actually the site of the Bear Flag Revolt, way back when in 1846? Today, the plaza is chock-full of a mix of cute stores and cafes, along with many a historical buildings. It’s a fun place to shop around, explore, and feel cultured, TBH.

Buena Vista Winery

This charming Sonoma Valley winery features a Bubble Lounge where you can enjoy champagne tasting — and yes, we’re talking real champagne, not just sparkling wine! For $20-25, you can enjoy a guided tour of the property, including the wine cellars. Definitely fun to do with a group!

Mission San Francisco Solano

The historical Mission San Francisco Solano is another piece of living history in Sonoma. Though it’s been deconsecrated, the mission, which was established in the early 1800s, was the twenty-first mission in California. You can also check out the Sonoma Barracks, as well as the General Vallejo House down the street, with the same $3 entrance fee.

4. Napa Valley

Castello di Amorosa

So, you feel like wine tasting in a castle today? Why not? Head over to the Castello di Amorosa in the world-famous Napa Valley for just that: The Tuscan winery offers guided tours of the medieval castle, as well as tastings of delicious Italian wines.

Lake Berryessa

Did you know that the largest lake in Napa County also provides water and hydroelectricity to the North Bay area? You can visit Lake Berryessa while you’re in Napa and need a break from all the wine. Hydration is key, my friends.

Domaine Carneros

Chateau-inspired winery tours at the Domaine Carneros? Yes, please. No, but really, you’re gonna want to break out the big guns for this one! Be sure to bring a camera or set that iPhone on portrait mode already, because you’ll definitely want a selfie in front of this French mansion and its breathtaking grounds. Glass of sparkling wine in hand, of course.

5. Hike Mt Tam (1 hour away)

Kirby Cove – stop on the way

The scenic private beach known as Kirby Cove is located in Sausalito, which means you can do a quick pitstop on your way up to Mt. Tamalpais. To find the beach with the famous swing (and sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge), you’ll want to park at Battery Spencer, then walk through the white gate on the right-hand side, and hike about a mile down to the private beach. Sometimes the swing gets taken down, but more often than not, you’ll be able to get that iconic Instagram shot before you head back up to the parking lot and on to Mt. Tam.

Option 1: Hike Mt. Tam for 2 hours

The famous Mount Tamalpais — and Mount Tamalpais National Park — of Marin County offers more than 50 hiking trails with breathtakingly beautiful views. One thing is for sure, no matter which trail you’ll take, you’ll enjoy the experience to the utmost, and can always grab a bite to eat in Sausalito afterwards.

Option 2: Hike trail that leads to Stinson Beach

Another option? If weather permits, you can hike the trail that leads from the top of Mt. Tam down to Stinson Beach. Be warned, it’s about a 7.5-mile hike, but not too strenuous. If you take this trail, you can then eat at Siren Canteen right on the beach post-hike — and trust us, it comes highly recommended!

6. Muir Woods (Muir Beach nearby)

Muir Woods takes its name from, you guessed it, famous environmentalist John Muir, who was also known as the father of national parks. Today, you can wander through the many trails of this majestic redwood forest — and into the Bohemian Grove and Cathedral Grove — to find yourself completely awestruck by the ancient redwood trees, some of which are at least 1,000 years old.

Note: You’ll want to get there early, as well as reserve parking in advance, as there is no cell service or WiFi in the area. #DisconnectToReconnect