San Francisco is an amazing city. Located in northern California, it is famous as the U.S. technology center, in addition to its liberal community, the mix of Victorian and modern architecture and a great ethnic and cultural diversity. If you are spending a few days in the “city of the summer fog,” in addition to visit their most prominent landmarks like the Golden Gate or Chinatown, you must make several day trips from San Francisco to learn the true essence of California and visit some places that you cannot miss, because all of them are located less than two hours away from the city.
Sausalito is a small town located in the Bay Area of San Francisco, near the Golden Gate. It is famous for, among other things, its reputation as a colony of artists and bohemians who lived on houseboats on the bay. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate much milder than the one of San Francisco. It is highly recommended to rent a bike from San Francisco to tour this picturesque spot. Then, you can continue to Tiburon and Mill Valley through a beautiful route along the sea.
This park is also located near the Golden Gate and it is one of the best examples of an ancient redwood groves located along the coast. Muir Woods is one of the most visited places in California to get in touch with nature, because it has a large number of roads, trails and breathtaking views. You should visit it during the week because the weekend it is usually very crowded.
Known as the “Mini Yosemite”, this park is located in Monterey County and it is centered around the Big Sur River. Apart from a privileged environment surrounded by redwoods and waterfalls, it counts with an hotel and a campground with all facilities.
The 17 Mile Drive is a scenic road that runs through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, around opulent mansions and golf courses. The most famous stretch of this road begins a little south from Pacific Grove, at the intersection of Mount Street and Esplanade Blvd. From here, the 17 Mile Drive offers a wonderful view of the beaches and coastal hills. There are also numerous turnouts to enjoy the sights, walk or take pictures of this incredible landscape.
5. Palo Alto
Palo Alto is located in the Bay Area of San Francisco, at the northern end of Silicon Valley near Stanford University. Several technology companies like Hewlett-Packard, Xerox or Facebook have offices in Palo Alto and it has served as an incubator for other high-tech companies like Google, Logitech, Sun Microsystems or PayPal.
It is a stunning string of beaches facing the Pacific Ocean. They extend from Bodega Head to the north of Goat Rock Beach. It has a very special ecosystem, alternating sandy beaches and a rocky coastline.
The mission of this state park is the conservation of one of the most important wine lands of the United States and it has many more activities: from hiking through forests of redwood, fir and arbutus, to have a picnic or swim in a pool.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, is located on the former site of a sardine cannery on Cannery Row. There are thousands of marine plants and animals, which represent about 623 different species, among which we can find jellyfish, sea otters and numerous native marine species.
Sacramento is the capital of California and the state’s oldest city, since it was founded in 1849, after gold was discovered nearby. Nicknamed the “City of Trees”, it has many parks and greenways, a beautiful promenade and a downtown dotted with Victorian houses and modern bungalows you cannot miss.
10. Mount Diablo
Mount Diablo is a mountain located near San Francisco. Its summit, which reaches 1,713 meters, is visible from the city and other parts of Northern California. This mountain is one of the ecological treasures of the area: wildflowers, an extensive network of trails, wildlife and several rock formations.
And of course, we cannot forget a visit to Yosemite National Park, which although a little further away from San Francisco (about 320 miles east), it is one of the most famous parks in the United States. It was named World Heritage Site in 1984 and it is recognized internationally for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear rivers, giant redwood forests and the biological diversity that counts.