Top 10 Weekend Destinations from San Francisco

Los Angeles

There is rarely a soul on earth who doesn’t know of the legendary Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco is the home of such an iconic landmark. Regarded as the jewel in Northern California’s crown, the city is brimming with history, architecture, culture, as well as natural features.

From Alcatraz Island to the Fisherman’s Wharf to the vibrant Chinatown, the city has a lot to entertain people of all age groups. Let us take a quick look at the top 10 weekend getaways from San Francisco.

Here is the list of Top Weekend Getaways from San Francisco

1. Monterey

Monterey
Monterey

Located on the rugged coastal coast of California, Monterey is a very popular weekend destination. A former sardine-packing district, the city is now home to a lot of remarkable activities and attractions including but not limited to the stunning Point Lobos Natural Reserve and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you love exploring quaint villages, don’t forget to pay a visit to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a modest seaside village that has everything from small shops and cafes to fancy designer boutiques, upscale art galleries, and gourmet eateries.

Best Time to Visit: If you are a food-lover, you must visit Monterey between April and May as spring bring in warmer temperatures, lesser visitors, and a whole bunch of food festivals.

How to Reach: The most convenient way to travel between the two places is by driving as it takes only a couple of hours.


2. Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz

The melting pot of sun, sand, and sea, Santa Cruz is home to the stunning Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk that offers a free seaside amusement park, the iconic Giant Dipper roller coaster, gaming arcades, bowling, as well as air hockey. The area is also swarming with diners, cafes, and dessert places. Other places of interest in the city include West Cliff Drive and the Surfing Museum, Natural Bridges State Beach, and Roaring Camp Railroad.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the city is round after the summer crowds have left i.e. the months from September to November.

How to Reach: The most recommended public transportation from SF to Santa Cruz is by bus. There are multiple options and they cost between $11 to $26.


3. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe

Engulfed by picturesque pine forests and snowclad mountain peaks, Lake Tahoe is known to inspire even the most jaded travelers. Perfect spot for nature lovers and outdoorsy people, the area offers hiking, cycling, and water sports during the summers and sledding, sleigh riding, and alpine and cross-country skiing. Additionally, one can also visit Emerald Bay State Park, Tallac Historic Site, and Sand Harbor State Park.

Best Time to Visit: Thanks to the wide variety of activities and attractions in the area, Lake Tahoe can be visited throughout the year. However, the months from March to May and from September to November are the most preferred.

How to Reach: While the cheapest option to get to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco is via a bus that costs $20, the fastest way to travel between the two places is via flight which costs around $60 to Reno. You can make your way from there to Lake Tahoe.


4. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

Inspiring artists, nature lovers, and adventure enthusiasts for decades, Yosemite National Park has been one of the most famous holiday spots not only in the region but also in the entire country, or perhaps even the continent. Yosemite Valley is undoubtedly the most spectacular part of the national park and it houses the Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Captain. To enjoy a truly magnificent view of the valley, head over to Tunnel View.

Best Time to Visit: May and September are the best months to visit the National Park. It is important to remember that the park is closed most of the year due to snow.

How to Reach: The best and the most convenient way to get to Yosemite from SF is to drive there.


5. Big Sur

Big Sur
Big Sur

Considered to be more of an experience than a weekend getaway, Big Sur enjoys a 90-mile rugged coastline. With attractions such as 80-foot waterfalls plunging into the sea and Keyhole Rock Formations, the area is also home to other popular attractions such as Pfeiffer Beach, Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and Henry Miller Memorial Library. If you love hiking, Ewoldsen Trail is a total blessing.

Best Time to Visit: Big Sur enjoys over 300 days of sunshine and it can be visited anytime from April to November.

How to Reach: The easiest, fastest and the cheapest way to get from San Francisco to Big Sur is by driving. It takes under three hours and costs between $13 to $20.


6. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach

A picturesque beachfront dotted with gorgeous mansions and a plethora of things to do; Laguna Beach is home to the annual Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters that is popular for its display of famous artworks. Main Beach Park, an iconic destination, is extremely popular for visitors as well as celebrities alike. Along the coastline, Laguna Beach also offers other attractions such as Pirate Tower, Heisler Park, and Thousand Steps Beach. Crystal Cove State Park, together with its camping grounds and canyons, is one of the best state parks in California.

Best Time to Visit: The months of April to May and September to October are the best to visit the beach.

How to Reach: The cheapest option between the two places is by bus that takes around 13 hours; however, the fastest way is to hop on a flight from San Francisco as it only takes slightly more than three hours.


7. Mammoth Mountains

Mammoth Mountains
Mammoth Mountains

One of the most wonderful places in California, Mammoth Mountains is brimming with natural elements such as lakes, rivers, mountains, and waterfalls. An outdoor lover’s haven, the landscape offers ample hiking trails, the wonderous Devils Postpile National Monument. Additionally, if you want to witness an impressive meadow, take a 5-minute drive from Devil’s Postpile to Reds Meadow.

Best Time to Visit: While the summer months of June till August are the peak season to visit here, if you are an adrenaline-junkie who loves to ski, winter is your best bet.

How to Reach: There are multiple ways to get to Mammoth Mountains, but the fastest and the most affordable way is to drive. It takes slightly less than 6 hours and costs between $25 to $40.


8. Los Angeles

Los Angeles
Los Angeles

Popularly known as L.A., Los Angeles is the celebrated home of the international film industry, commonly known as Hollywood. One of the most culturally diverse cities on earth, the city boasts outstanding shopping avenues, a thriving culinary scene, and some amazing museums. Some of the places you cannot miss visiting include but aren’t limited to Universal Studios Hollywood, Griffith Park, and Griffith Observatory, and of course, the Santa Monica Pier.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit L.A. is between March to May and September and November.

How to Reach: There are more than 10 different ways to travel between the two cities but the most convenient way to travel is via the usual bus or night bus. You can also take a flight that takes under four hours and costs between $56 to $150.


9. Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree

A place that feels right out of a storybook, Joshua Tree is known for its Dr. Seuss-like Joshua trees and stunning rolling mountains. Often described as magical, the National Park is set where the Mojave Desert unites with the Colorado Desert. For adventure lovers, the place offers several activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and camping under the stars. A few of the popular spots around the area include Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Keys View, and Cholla Cactus Garden.

Best Time to Visit: The spring months of April to early May is the best time to visit the national park.

How to Reach: While the cheapest way to get to Joshua Tree from the city is by driving, it could take up to 9 hours. To get there faster, take a flight to Palm Springs and then take a taxi to the destination.


10. Morro Bay

Morro Bay
Morro Bay

Surrounded by several prominent natural features such as the notable Morro Rock, the designated National Estuary, and the main waterfront promenade, Embarcadero, Morro Bay is a perfect weekend destination within a short distance of San Francisco. There is no dearth of restaurants, cafes, and cultural attractions around the area. Morro Bay is also considered to be one of the best spots for bird watching in the world as acclaimed by the Audubon Society.

Best Time to Visit: Summers are considered to be the best time to visit Morro Bay as countless events take place around the same time.

How to Reach: While the most economical means of public transportation is by bus that costs between $36 to $51, the fastest option would be to drive.

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