Travel to Northern California: 5 Quick San Francisco Day Trips

travelroad trips & staycations

Every time I think of San Francisco, I think of the time my mom took me there for a mother/daughter date when I was a teenager. We ate Chinese food in China town, rode the trolley, and bought sourdough bread as a gift for my family back home. What I remember most, though, was the fun I had with my mom and the relationship we strengthened on that trip.

I've only been back to Northern California a few times since my teens. On a recent trip, I visited five areas in and around San Francisco that I highly recommend. The good news? Since they are each so close to the city, you only need a couple of days to see all of them.

Half Moon Bay

The Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay is a place to be by yourself or with your partner. It's perfect for "me time," giving you the rest and relaxation we all need. Or, the setting is phenomenally romantic, located right on the ocean with pathways surrounding the area. So, take your choice. You can't go wrong here.

Half Moon Bay is only 20 minutes from San Francisco, so whether you want to stay over night or just spend a day walking by the bay, you can be there and back in no time. Check this out...

...and this.

Me and my iPod fell in love with this path overlooking the beach. You will, too!

Muir Wood National Park

I was dying to see redwood trees, but only had 3 hours. Some locals told us about Muir Wood Park, which by car is only 30-45 minutes outside the city, depending on traffic. The drive was worth the trip itself. That said, the forest was absolutely beautiful. Take a look.

Let's get vertical...

...and low...

...and check out the trails...

...and catch our breath (Cari Stewart Thompson pictured).

Skyline Boulevard

Road trips are my favorite kind of trip. And who says they have to be long? Skyline Boulevard, about 30 minutes outside of San Francisco, is lined with trees, breathtaking views...

...and delicious restaurants. It's far enough away to give you perspective, but close enough to pick up the kids from school or tuck them in at night. Isn't it amazing?

The Exploratorium

My parents took us to The Exploratorium when we were kids and we spent hours doing hands-on science experiments and learning about the world around us. I loved every minute of it. But what I remember the most is the Palace of Fine Arts. Surrounded by beautiful homes, a lake with swans, and green grass, it is perfect for sitting, pondering, and enjoying the beautiful architecture. Do you love it as much as I do?


The Golden Gate Bridge

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and being known as one of the world's most beautiful bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge is striking. Take a look straight on...


...and if you pull off right after crossing the bridge, you can look back toward San Francisco from the other side and if the day is clear, the view will be amazing!

Isn't it amazing that you can visit all of those places within a couple of days? Try it out the next time you are in or around San Francisco.

What are your favorite sites to see in San Francisco? Where would you most like to visit the next time you are there or, if you live there, when you have time for a day trip?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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