Don’t Miss These Day Trips from San Francisco! Wineries, Charming Downtowns, Scenic Nature & More
San Francisco is a bustling Northern California city known for having the Golden Gate Bridge. It also offers a Chinatown district, Alcatraz, and the 49ers. Once you’ve thoroughly explored the town, you may be interested in taking a day trip. Thankfully, San Francisco is close to some larger cities that make suitable day trip destinations.
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These are the best day trip destinations from San Francisco. They’re each within a three-hour driving distance, so you won’t spend your entire time driving. Where will your day trip take you?
Sacramento is the capital of California and home to over 500,000 people. It’s also known for its many trees, which were initially planted during the Gold Rush to provide shade during warmer months. If you stop by, you’ll find there’s plenty to do there.
You’ll find that Sacramento has a few interesting museums, like the California State Railroad Museum and the Crocker Art Museum. Spend a few hours browsing exhibits and learning about the museums’ topics. If you’re interested in learning but would like to spend time outdoors, consider visiting the Old Sacramento State Historic Park.
Sacramento also has a zoo, perfect for those traveling with kids.
Also, don’t forget to take photos with the city’s murals – there are hundreds! You can find a map of some of the most famous murals here.
Sacramento is an hour and a half away from San Francisco. If you don’t want to drive, you can take an Amtrak bus and train to get there – it will just increase your travel time.
This college town on the outskirts of San Francisco boasts cultural diversity, agricultural success, and sports teams. Despite being filled with attractions, you can still see Stockton on a day trip.
If you’re visiting the city with kids, head to the Children’s Museum of Stockton or Pixie Woods Children’s Park. For teens and adults, the Haggin Museum is a great place to view art.
When college is in session, the University of the Pacific hosts sporting matches for baseball, tennis, water polo, and more.
Before you leave Stockton, another top site to visit is the Wat Dhammararam Buddhist Temple, established by Cambodian refugees and complete with beautiful statues. The temple sometimes hosts events, so check their calendar before your trip to see if you’ll be in town for one.
Stockton is an hour and a half away from San Francisco. Amtrak offers service between the two cities, but it’s usually about 45 minutes quicker to drive to Stockton.
3. San Jose
San Jose is a fun destination for a day trip from San Francisco. It’s the largest city in Northern California and is home to many large corporations.
This city has many museums. History buffs should pay a visit to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum or Cathedral Basilica of San Jose, and techies can explore the Tech Museum of Innovation.
If you’re visiting San Jose with kids, bring them to the Children’s Discovery Museum. Then, head to Kelley Park, which has a zoo, gardens, and even more museums. The San Jose Flea Market is a great place to pick up souvenirs and some dinner, and they also have a Ferris wheel you can ride. Stop by the market for not just shopping, but entertainment as well, like live music and pony rides for your kids.
If you can’t squeeze all of this into a day trip, consider spending a few days here next time you visit California.
San Jose is an hour and 15 minutes away from San Francisco. While Amtrak runs between both cities, taking a train and/or bus will typically double your travel time.
4. Santa Rosa
This day trip destination is the center of Wine Country in Sonoma County. Whether you’re visiting with family or taking a day trip with your friends, there’s plenty of cheese, wine, and exploring to be had here.
There are over 300 wineries in the area Santa Rosa is in. While it would be hard to pick a favorite, Carol Shelton Wines and Pellegrini Wine Company are good options.
Before or after you drink, grab some cheese along the California Cheese Trail. It cuts through Santa Rosa with creameries like Joe Matos Cheese Co. and Bohemian Creamery.
Even if you’re not a drinker or cheese connoisseur, Santa Rosa is still a fun place to visit. There’s a museum dedicated to Charles M. Schulz of Peanuts and Snoopy fame, along with an ice rink he was behind. And, like many of our San Francisco day trip options, Santa Rosa wouldn’t be complete without a children’s museum.
Santa Rosa is an hour and 15 minutes away from San Francisco. While there is an Amtrak train service between the two cities, it will increase your travel time to 4 hours. Therefore, it’s better to drive.
Also known for its wine, Modesto is the last of our day trip ideas from San Francisco. It also has some other attractions that make it worth the visit.
Modesto is home to the world’s largest winery, E & J Gallo Winery. The Gallo family also owns The Gallo Glass Company, the largest wine bottle manufacturer. See what’s playing at the State Theater or Gallo Center for the Arts if you’re into live performances.
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Outdoor adventurers should book a rafting trip with Sunshine Rafting for an excursion down the San Joaquin River. Even a beginner can experience rafting with this tour group. If you’re visiting San Francisco in June, drive over to Modesto for Graffiti Summer, an annual festival honoring the George Lucas film, American Graffiti. You’ll see vintage cars and live music, and there are many events to participate in.
Modesto is an hour and a half away from San Francisco. You can get there by driving, BART, or Amtrak.
San Francisco is a great trip destination, and so are the destinations that surround it. No matter which place you choose for your day trip from San Francisco, you’re bound to have a good time.