San Francisco is one of the country’s most iconic cities, but sometimes everyone needs a break from the urban bustle. If you’re looking for weekend getaways from San Francisco, you’ll find a range of exciting jaunts for families, singles, and couples. From serene Sausalito to breathtaking Big Sur, your next adventure starts here.
Weekend Getaways for Families
Looking to trade the Michelin-starred restaurants and buzzy galleries of the Mission for something a little more au natural? Then consider Yosemite National Park, a sprawling, epic landscape of towering sequoias, granite cliffs, alpine lakes, and jaw-dropping waterfalls. Yosemite is just a 3-hour drive from San Francisco, and perfectly suited for a family weekend getaway.
Hike to Glacier Point to take in some sweeping views across Yosemite Valley, snap some stunning pics of Lower Yosemite Falls, stop by Pioneer Village to catch a glimpse of old-school frontier life, or rent bikes to discover the area by pedal-power; Yosemite offers plenty of child-friendly adventures for the whole family. Sporty families can travel through the treetops on a zipline tour, hit the seasonal swimming hole at the swinging bridge, or tee-off at Big Trees Golf Course, while visitors with an artistic bent can stop by the Ansel Adams Gallery to check out Adams’ iconic black-and-white photographs of the park.
Yosemite is also an ideal spot for camping and cook outs, but visitors who’d rather not rough it will find a range of accommodations, including fully decked-out camper vans, rustic lodges, upscale hotels, ski resorts, and fishing camps. There’s also a range of unpretentious restaurants, so get ready to tie on a bib and loosen your belt buckle.
Weekend Getaways for Couples
The mention of Yountville, California, might not get your heart pounding in the same way a mention of, say, Montmartre might, but this sophisticated Napa Valley gem is the perfect anecdote to San Fran’s pedal-to-the-metal lifestyle, and offers an intimate romantic getaway for couples looking to spend a weekend on the down-low, while being high above it all.
Yountville’s natural beauty is a big attractor – think acres of lush vineyards, endless blue skies, and an all-American downtown – and as a former stagecoach stop in the mid-Valley, it punches far above its weight in the culinary world. A great way to see Yountville’s dreamy landscape – as well as take some epic snapshots – is with a hot-air balloon ride. The balloon rides start just after dawn, meaning you can catch a birds-eye view of the countryside at its most tranquil.
Yountville’s restaurants are world-class – literally – with Thomas Keller’s French Laundry leading the pack, having won 3 Michelin stars for its 9-course tasting menus. If you can afford it, it’s an unforgettable meal, but Yountville has plenty of other interesting dining options: hit the raw bar at Keller’s Bouchon, cozy up to some cassoulet at Bistro Jeanty, and chill out with a glass of zinfandel and a porchetta panino at Ottimo.
Weekend Getaways for Singles
There’s no better way to clear your mind and de-stress than rolling down the windows, turning up the radio, and cruising solo along the Pacific Coast Highway, one of “the best drives on earth”. And there’s no more exhilarating PCH destination for singles than Big Sur, a woodsy and rugged coastal region that’s captivated everyone from Orson Welles and Trent Reznor to Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac.
Once an eclectic collage of cabin-dwelling artists, competing cults, nudist colonies, and Boho surfers, Big Sur’s off-the-grid idealism now colors a lush landscape of farm-to-table Californian restaurants, gift shops selling Kerouac mugs, and English majors beating a track to the Henry Miller Memorial Library. That’s not to say long stretches of solitude can’t be found amongst the soaring redwoods and fog-shrouded cliffs – billboards are still banned, after all – it’s just that you can find company, if you want it, and you’ll no longer have to head back to San Francisco to enjoy a charcuterie board in a converted water tank.
The reflective nature of Big Sur’s landscape makes it a bucket-list spot for a bit of alone time, and there are plenty of activities for singles, including hiking to Partington Cove, whale watching in Garrapta State Park, and taking a moonlight tour of the Point Sur light station.
Weekend Getaways for the Outdoors
Less than a 200-mile drive from Frisco, Lake Tahoe is one of the West Coast’s most beautiful getaways, and is ideally situated for road-trippers looking to spend an active weekend outdoors. The crystal-clear lake is a huge draw, with flocks of travelers cutting through the waters on wake-boards, jet skis, fishing boats, and kayaks, as well as hunting for “Tahoe Tessie”, a prehistoric creature said to live in the depths of the lake. If you prefer a more laid-back experience, sign up for a sunset paddlewheel cruise, sunbathe on the beach, or climb aboard a sailboat with a page-turner and a bottle of bubbly.
Visitors will also find plenty to do outside of the lake, as the area offers miles of hiking trails, and first-class skiing at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Hop on a hot-air balloon to get a fresh perspective on the jaw-dropping granite cliffs, join a wine tour of Gold Country, tee off on the golf courses, or grab your lucky charms and hit the tables in one of the south shore’s lively casinos. You can even book stargazing tours, join the unforgettable annual Independence Day celebrations, and check out the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.
Weekend Getaways for the Carless
If you’re planning a weekend getaway to Sausalito, the journey is half the fun, as it’s easy to take a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then catch a ferry back, making it the perfect weekend trip for the carless. The bike ride from Fishermans’s Wharf to the Sausalito ferry pier is about 8 miles, and offers a great chance to take a trip without relying on the BART and public transportation.
Once you’re in Sausalito, you’ll discover a lively, art-inflected town bursting with restaurants, bars, and cafes. Music lovers will want to stop by the redwood-clad building at 2200 Bridgeway, which was once a recording studio where the Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, Fleetwood Mac, and Metallica cut classic albums, as well as catch some live music at the renowned No Name Bar or Osteria Divino.
Stop by the charming houseboats, which are visitable on the annual Sausalito houseboat tour, then pack a picnic to Gabrielson Park, kayak around Schoonmaker Beach, and stroll the Bridgeway Promenade to snap some photos of Alcatraz and Angel Island. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Fish, a perky restaurant in the Clipper Yacht Marina. Fish serves sustainable seafood in picturesque digs, so kick back with a bowl of white chowder and watch the sailboats bob on the water.
Offering easy access to stunning national parks, charming seaside towns, and some of the West Coast’s most beautiful beaches, there are many perfect weekend getaways from San Francisco. Book your San Francisco weekend getaway today!