Day Trips From San Francisco: 7 Spots to Go in a Rental Car

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San Francisco is about hills, trams, and the hippie spirit. It has everything that an ideal city should have, including sparkling skyscrapers, a bustling waterfront, small coffee shops, large parks, Art Deco villas, and Victorian houses. So, all this makes it a great place to rent a car and have a road trip there. Unfortunately, parking in San Francisco can be a challenge. This is why many travelers choose to explore the city’s surroundings. 

Yes, it would be a great idea to take a pickup truck rental San Francisco and find some amazing places around. San Francisco is a good starting point for day trips, with many experiences awaiting you. Breathtaking views of the ocean, vineyard hills, quaint towns, mountains, and many more attractions are all within driving distance of San Francisco. Well, check out a few popular places to visit with your rental car.

Half Moon Bay 

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Half Moon Bay is located just 35 miles south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast. This is a great place for people who want to take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle. Stretching for 1 mile, Half Moon Bay is an incredibly beautiful part of the coastline. This bay enters the coastal area in a large and deep semicircle and offers ideal conditions for snorkeling and swimming.

The fresh ocean breeze creates large waves in the bay that are great for surfing. The surface of Half Moon Bay beach is covered with sand of a delicate coral shade. By the way, some of its areas are full of palm trees that almost reach the shore. This makes it look like a tropical beach.

Monterey Peninsula 

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Breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean await you on the Monterey Peninsula. Here you will find several cities including Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey, located 118 miles from San Francisco. John Steinbeck made Monterey famous all over the world in his “Cannery Row” novel. 

The small town of Carmel is very pretty too. Experienced travelers recommend it to anyone who comes to see California. First of all, Carmel is famous for the Mission building and endless golf courses. Visitors can go cycling, whale watching in Monterey Bay, enjoy fresh seafood in cozy restaurants, and visit museums and art galleries.

Napa Valley 

File:Autumn in Napa Valley vineyards.jpg

It takes you less than 2 hours to get to Napa Valley from San Francisco. We recommend you this scenic route if you want to taste aromatic and sweet grapes, as well as take a fascinating excursion. Yountville, Calistoga, and Saint Helena are must-visit spots in the Napa Valley. Plus, there are hundreds of wineries that attract travelers from all over the world. 

The vineyard-covered hills provide the perfect backdrop for memorable photos and outdoor wine tastings. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the main wines for the area, while dozens of other varieties are being made to expand the range.

Muir Woods 

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Covered with fog that comes from the Pacific Ocean, Muir Woods is a mysterious and at the same time enchanting place near San Francisco. The forest is one of the few places on our planet where you can see century-old coastal sequoias in all their glory. Many of these trees reach 60 meters in height, while their age is about six centuries. 

As the forest has become very popular with tourists and locals on summer weekends, the parking lot can sometimes get full. So try to arrive early. If you fancy staying in these areas, the Muir Woods Hotel is located 15 miles north of San Francisco. The park has hiking and cycling trails, making it easy to explore on your own.

Yosemite National Park 

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Located on the east coast of the United States, Yosemite is another great day trip destination near San Francisco. It covers an area of ​​over 3 thousand square kilometers and offers many options for travelers. Here you will find a variety of natural attractions, including deep forests, granite cliffs, and huge century-old trees. 

The park is famous for the richest flora and fauna. It’s also full of scenic waterfalls such as Nevada Falls and 800-meter-high Yosemite Falls. The park is beautiful at any time of the year. Waterfalls and wildflowers look best in spring, while subalpine flowers bloom in summer. This is a wonderful hiking season as well. In autumn, there are significantly fewer tourists, although it’s somewhat chilly. In winter, tourists will have a great opportunity to warm up by the fire in the tent camp.

Santa Cruz 

Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California | Santa Cruz is the … | Flickr

The charming coastal town of Santa Cruz hosted the first surfing competition in the United States. In addition to surfing, city guests can go scuba diving, whale watching, and kayaking. But these are not all the activities that tourists can do in the oldest Seaside Park on the west coast. 

You will also be happy to enjoy the breathtaking rides. At the same time, those who are indifferent to sports can walk along green streets, visit boutiques and galleries in the city center. All of this is available less than an hour and a half from San Francisco.

Sonoma Valley 

Interesting Sky in Sonoma Valley | Steven Bratman | Flickr

Sonoma is another great place to visit with your rental car. It’s located just 44 miles from San Francisco, so you need about an hour to reach it. What can you do there? First, visit the Jack London House Museum in Glen Ellen. If you want to relax, head to one of several hot springs with spa hotels nearby. And of course, Sonoma Valley is one of California’s premier wine regions. The town of Sonoma is literally buried in vineyards, and the wineries located around it offer a pleasant stay with a tasting of amazing local wines.

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