San Francisco is amazing in its own right, but the City by the Bay is enhanced by its incredible location, which makes it a great jumping off point for a variety of day trips around and outside the bay area, including these three.
Sausalito is just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, but with a population of just 7000, the small town feel is a stark contrast from the big city across the bay. You can easily get there by car, ferry, or by biking across the bridge. Spend the day exploring the boutiques, art galleries and restaurants in downtown Sausalito. There is a plentiful amount of unique fine dining restaurants, and brunch is particularly popular on the weekends.
If you're feeling more active, Sausalito is also a great base for boating, kayaking and even seaplane tours. There are several popular hiking routes that start in town and wind around the Marin Headlands. You can also drive out to Muir Woods National Monument and see the beautiful old growth redwood trees, which feel like something out of the Jurassic era.
Take a drive down the coast and a trip down memory lane. John Steinbeck often wrote about Monterey, California's iconic city by the sea, in novels like Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row. Established in 1770, the city has more historic buildings than anywhere else on the west coast.
Nowadays the town is better known for the enormous Monterey Bay Aquarium, which highlights California's exciting marine life, including otters and fluorescent jellyfish. It's also a fun place to spend an afternoon shopping, exploring and relaxing. Make sure to say hi to the sea lions that hang out by the pier.
The drive down to Monterey takes about two hours by highway, but it's worth investing the extra time to take circuitous but scenic State Route 1. This smaller road ambles along California's wild coastline, providing plenty of opportunities for pictures. Make a stop in Santa Cruz, or continue on to Big Sur, to fully enjoy the route.
Every year 3 million visitors make the pilgrimage to the United State's most famous wine region, which is an easy 50-mile drive north of San Francisco. Don't let the crowds deter you; with more than 400 wineries there are plenty of grapes to go around. Just make sure you choose a designated driver to chauffeur you around wine country, or if there are no volunteers, take the Napa Valley Wine Train or even a private tour.
If you are visiting Napa, make a plan ahead of time regarding which wineries you would like to visit. Some smaller wineries are appointment only, so check ahead. Most establishments offer tours and tastings for a small fee. Popular stops include Castello di Amorosa, Beringer Vineyards and Sterling Vineyards.
Napa is also well known for its fine dining (the most famous and exclusive is the French Laundry), so consider making a reservation at one of the many famous restaurants in the Valley. Other popular activities include hot air ballooning and the hot springs in Calistoga.
Please drink responsibly and use a designated driver, as your RoamRight policy does not cover loss resulting from or caused by being under the influence of alcohol.
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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