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The Best Day Trips From San Francisco When You Need to Get out of the City

The downside of living in a seven square mile city: it’s seven square miles. The upside: there are so many amazing day trips you can experience within an hour or two drive of San Francisco. No matter which direction you go (save west, because ocean), you’ll find natural beauty, hidden treasures and your new favorite spots just outside city limits. Whether you and your boo, group of best friends, or bachelorette party are looking to get outta town, there’s a day trip for that.

Reporter: Heather Ash | Location: Point Reyes 

Not ready to leave? Here's the only dining and drinking guide to SF you'll ever need →

Photo:Chris Sumida
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Sausalito

Marin, California
Just a hop, skip and a jump from the city via the Golden Gate Bridge (or a 20 minute drive if that’s more your thing), expect to have your breath taken away on your first visit to Sausalito. It feels worlds away from the streets of SF with its harbor, rolling hills, and overall small town vibe. Good for: bringing a group of friends that like light activity before a day of eating and drinking.  
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Mount Tamalpais

Tamalpais State Park, Marin, California
Feel like getting some ~moderate~ activity in before you head into Sausalito (you’re only going there for food and drinks, let’s be real)? Head to Mount Tamalpais for some of the most stunning views of Marin and Tamalpais State Park without exerting too much precious energy. Inside tip: Plan an evening trip to see the sunset as Karl the Fog comes home for the night.
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Bar Bocce

Sausalito, California
After you worked up a sweat (maybe not though) and captured a fab new Instagram pic at Mount Tamalpais, head to Bar Bocce for pizza, rosé and views. Unless you have a large group, this place is first come, first serve so get there before noon. The harbor views and a chilled bevvie are the perfect way to commemorate your lightly active morning with your friends.
Photo:Chris Sumida
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Tiburon

Remember on your trip to Sausalito and you thought, “what’s on the other side of this little bay?” Well friends, that’s Tiburon. Another scenic, quick drive or ferry ride from SF, Tiburon wraps all the way back around so you’re looking at the city from certain vantage points. Part small town and part natural surrounds, you could easily spend a day here. Good for: bachelorette parties or girls’ getaways that want to experience a coastal day out of SF without going too far.
Photo:Chris Sumida
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Sam’s Anchor Cafe

Tiburon, California
Perched on the water’s edge, Sam’s Anchor Cafe is the kind of spot you need to bring your friends to on a sunny day. The patio has absolutely stunning views of the bay and the newly renovated interiors are cozy-boat-shack-cool (Is that a thing? It is now). What to order: order it all and share amongst your friends but make sure the crab cakes and lobster roll are included.
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Tomales Bay

Tomales Bay: the promised land of oysters, less than 90 minutes north of SF. If you’re feeling ambitious on your own tour de oysters, you could go on a hike before – there are plenty of trailheads – however, we’re just here to eat (and drink). Good for: small groups, think: double dates or bringing your out-of-town parents along.   
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The Marshall Store

Marshall, California
A casual roadside restaurant, The Marshall Store is a quick first or second stop on your tour de oysters. With counter service and limited bayfront seating, order oysters (duh), some beers, and clam chowder if you’re feeling crazy. It gets busy so best to get here earlier than later.
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Hog Island Oyster Farm

Marshall, California
Personal opinion: Hog Island Oyster Farm has the best setting in Tomales Bay. Every spot in Tomales has a bay view, sure, but the picnic table seating and rustic open-air restaurant here are something special. Make a reservation if you want a table vs. having to stand at a barrel (not a horrible option either!). Inside tip: plan ahead for the oyster picnic offered by reservation only.
Photo:Chris Sumida
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Nick’s Covelearn more

Definitely the “fanciest” of your options here: if you’re looking for somewhere to stay the night, a full service dinner or one final round of oysters before heading home, Nick’s Cove will be your spot – just make a reservation ahead of time. The property is fishing lodge chic perched on the water’s edge. Inside tip: there’s a boat shack on the end of a dock complete with a fireplace and games to round out the night with.
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Napa Valley

Napa is a given for a quick getaway from the city. It really is stunning and the hour-long drive up is gorgeous. Because wine (so much wine), get a big group together and hire a tour service to drive y’all around for the day. Make sure to set-up tasting reservations for your group ahead of time (I learned this the hard way). Good for: birthday parties, girls getaways, long weekends – you name it. As with wine and friends, the more, the merrier.

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11 / 24
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Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranchlearn more

First things first, you need brunch. And this brunch comes with wine, beignets and like-minded fellow brunchers. The restaurant and property (hello, wedding venue) take a modern approach to the farmhouse feel that's elevated yet casual-enough and surrounded by vineyards – just make sure to make a reservation well in advance.
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Restoration Hardware Yountville

Yountville, California
When wine and interior design combine… seriously, who doesn’t want to drink wine in their pretend dream home? This newish Yountville showroom meets tasting room is the place to be in Napa right now, and you’ll feel fancier as soon as you step onto the grounds. Important to note: tasting reservations are absolutely required. Read more about about Restoration Hardware Yountville →
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Ashes & Diamondslearn more

Towards the "beginning" (southern end) of Napa is Ashes & Diamonds Winery: it’s on-trend name is befitting of the property made up of modern buildings and decor, pops of color, and plenty of well-landscaped outdoor nooks-and-crannies for lounging with a bottle. It’s the non-winery winery that is a must on your Napa tour.
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Point Reyes

Point Reyes, about an hour drive from SF, has a few reasons to visit. First, Point Reyes Station is an adorable… you guessed it… small town complete with old-timey buildings and local shops. Next are the sights: the Point Reyes Lighthouse is worth a visit, the Cypress Tree Tunnel cannot be missed, and there are abundant hiking options if you’re feeling outdoorsy. Good for: bringing the fam along for a relaxing day of eating, hiking and stunning sights or a lowkey outing with friends.
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Heidrun Meadery

Point Reyes Station, California
Honey mead: the adult beverage you didn’t know that you needed. That’s right, it’s a champagne style mead made from Heidrun Meadery honey, and that’s pretty much it. The meadery sources local honey as well as honey from all over the country (even Hawaii!). Opt for a tasting to experience the wide array of flavors different regions’ bees produce: it’s one more reason to love the bees.
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Cypress Tree Tunnel

Point Reyes, California
The Cypress Tree Tunnel is easily the most famous site of the Point Reyes National Seashore, and even northern California. A 20 minute drive from Point Reyes Station, visit the tree tunnel either early in the day or evening (sunset on a clear day) for prime photo taking.
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CowGirl Creamery

Point Reyes Station, California
Not an ice cream creamery but a cheese creamery, Cowgirl boasts an array of local cheeses, meat and accoutrements. The selection here is seriously impressive and just like an ice cream shop, you can sample the cheeses to find your perfect match(es). Grab a baguette, canned bevvie, and jam or jelly of your choice to make an impromptu picnic out of it.  
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Half Moon Bay

The only “southern” pick on this list, Half Moon Bay is within an hour of San Francisco and one of the most scenic drives available for your day tripping pleasure. Start your day with light activity by walking the coastal trail before making a couple stops for chowder and drinks, ocean views always included. Good for: as many people that can fit in your car or keep it between you and your S.O. – it all works for Half Moon Bay.
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Walk the Coastal Trail

Half Moon Bay, California
Not so much a hike but a nice walk, the coastal trail is a flat path above the beach with sweeping views of the craggy coastline that stretches in both directions. It’s the perfect amount of “exercise” before getting to the good stuff: clam chowder. Inside tip: there is a parking lot that fills up quickly, so get in early.
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Sam’s Chowder House

Half Moon Bay, California
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s chowder time. Sam’s Chowder House has chowder, of course, as well as all of the seafood classics you want like lobster rolls, oysters and cured salmon. Make a reservation ahead of time to avoid the guaranteed long weekend wait.

Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay, California
Stop at The Ritz Carlton for drinks and a raw bar on the Ocean Terrace. Open every day from noon to sunset, post up with your party for a luxurious, ocean-front experience, minus the room cost.
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Bodega Bay

Just over an hour from the city (90 minutes with a little traffic), Bodega Bay is best known as the filming location for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Beyond visiting The Schoolhouse, there’s plenty of seafood to be had here. Want to follow the cinematic trail? Head to Bay View Restaurant, also featured in The Birds – it’s on the pricier side but you pay for history, you know? Good for: small groups, families or couples that are film fanatics and seafood lovers alike.
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The Schoolhouse from "The Birds"

Bodega Bay, California
Ah, the famous schoolhouse of The Birds: an absolute must during your visit to Bodega Bay. Drive up, snap a few pics, hope some birds don’t attack and you’re on your way.
Photo:James Wei
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Spud Point Crab Company

Bodega Bay, California
You’re here for crab and that’s that. The small, crab-centric restaurant has the freshest crab you can enjoy, complete with outdoor picnic tables overlooking the harbor. Feeling crazy? Take a whole crab or two home with you. What to order: crab sandwich that’s filled with 1/4 lb of freshly picked crabmeat on a fresh roll.

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