Oh, summertime in San Francisco. It’s that time of the year when the days are longer, the fog is a little more relentless in the city, and it feels like everyone else is off on an exotic Eastern Europe tour or warm tropical vacation.

It’s also a perfect time of the year to remind ourselves that the Bay Area has seemingly endless mini getaway options within a 1-to-3 hour drive. Sometimes a day trip can be just as rejuvenating as a bigger vacation.

One of the many things we love about living in the Bay Area is how quickly we can find a change of landscape or pace – calming redwoods, natural swimming settings, tiny seaside villages, breathtaking beaches or even an African safari are all an easy day trip from San Francisco.

We asked the SFGATE staff for their favorite local excursions, with tips for insider activities and eateries. We tried to avoid the obvious, touristy day trips and instead offer an off-the-beaten path itinerary, catering to everyone from movie buffs to avid hikers to foodies touring the coast. The only exception to our exclusion of “touristy” things is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We can’t help it, Santa Cruz was one of the more popular recommendations among our staff (along with Pescadero and the town of Sonoma). We received so many tips for some locations that we included multiple slides for some destinations.

We also calculated out the driving time for each day trip, estimating each distance from central SF (where Google Maps drops you if you just enter “San Francisco” in directions). All of these driving time estimates are without traffic.

Did we miss an insider day trip that you think is one of the best in the Bay Area? Tell us in the comments.


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