There are so many things to do in San Francisco that it's tempting to never leave the city. However, within just an hour or two, you can drive to a variety of locales that make you feel like you've turned up the volume on beauty and adventure. Here are a few of the best day trips you can take from San Francisco this summer:
- Half Moon Bay: Wind your way down the Pacific Coast Highway past a wild coastline, purple mountains and free-roaming wildlife to Half Moon Bay. Don't forget to stop at roadside stands for strawberries and other farm fresh items. Hikers and bikers can enjoy the Waterfront Coastside Trail at Mirada Road off Highway One. Half Moon Bay State Beach boasts a broad, sandy beach that's perfect for relaxing. There are trails tailor made for horseback riding and surfers are drawn to the area made famous by dozens of international big-wave competitions. Head downtown for dinner and be sure to stop in Spanish Town on the way to see the giant metal dinosaurs and quaint shops.
- Palo Alto and Stanford: With so many things to do in Palo Alto, it would be hard to turn down the short drive (less than an hour) from San Francisco. For example, on the Stanford University campus you can visit the changing exhibits at the Cantor Art Museum and the permanent Rodin sculpture collection in the garden - all for free. Hikers (or runners) can make their way to the Stanford Dish, a 3.5 mile trail known for its beautiful hills and views of San Jose, San Francisco and the East Bay. If you're looking for a longer communion with nature, head to Baylands Preserve for windsurfing, kayaking, 15 miles of trails, and some of the best bird watching on the West Coast. Those with little ones can take a detour to the free Junior Museum & Zoo to see more than 200 different animal specimens and a host of indoor science exhibits.
- Muir Woods and Point Reyes National Seashore: Drive north along the gorgeous, jagged coast along Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco and stop at Muir Woods to walk among thousands of the tallest old-growth coastal redwoods in the world. Some of the trails extend into Mount Tamalpais State Park, where you can enjoy a spectacular view from the 2,571-foot peak. Then make your way to the Point Reyes National Seashore to see the historic lighthouse, enjoy ocean views, and feast on fresh crab and oysters.
For tips on how to get your family and car ready before you head out on the road, read our road trip safety checklist.
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