The winds are calling for you to visit the Golden City, and now with more direct flights from BNE to SFO, there’s plenty of reasons to SF-go.
Once you’ve ticked off the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and eaten your body weight in creamy clam chowder and Ghirardelli chocolate, the rest of California calls.
From the beach to the bush, there’s so much more to see and do within an easy drive of the city’s borders.
Discover what’s beyond the City by the Bay with this guide.
Napa Valley, 1 hour 55 minute drive
Indulge your senses in the heart of California’s famous wine country, Napa Valley.
Getting there is a route of passage in its own right, self-driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and winding your way to one of the world’s most famous wine regions.
Small in size (just 30 miles long and five miles wide), but big in wine-making action (there’s over 400 wineries and tasting rooms to explore), Napa Valley gives plenty of reasons to drink in both its wine and scenery.
For a cluster of small-lot vineyards that max out in flavour, enter the charming town of St. Helena into your GPS.
This iconic destination has built a reputation for producing Cabernet Sauvignon – so put your best swirl technique forward.
For an only-in-Napa experience, make for the family-owned V. Sattui winery, established in 1885. Their cellar door is the only opportunity to sample their delicious drops in the world.
Pssst - if you’re a serious connoisseur, don’t think twice about joining a day tour from San Fransisco to have a designated driver for the day.
Santa Cruz, 1 hour 30 minute drive
Translating to “Holy Cross” in Spanish, Santa Cruz, draws a crowd thanks to its postcard-worthy beaches, surf culture and historic landmarks (think: theme park right on the beachfront).
This coastal charmer is laidback with a capital L, drawing visitors to its beachfront amusement park, home to California’s oldest roller coaster which has been putting smiles on faces since 1924.
The icons don’t stop there - prepare your tastebuds for a sugar sensation, sinking your teeth into all the American movie favourites like fairy floss (aka cotton candy), dagwood dogs (corn dogs) and toffee apples (caramel apples).
Beyond the beach, nature proves a star attraction with Santa Cruz’ redwood-flanked mountains. Over 1,880 hectares of forest calls for your hiking boot's attention, wandering amongst trees with 1,500 rings to their name.
Extend your stay by booking overnight accommodation with everything from hostels to luxury hotels in neighbourhoods that each deliver a different energy to your stay.
Yosemite National Park, 4 hour drive
The perfect antidote to San Fransisco’s lively streets is the Yosemite National Park’s real one. By jungle, of course we mean, mountainous terrain, thundering waterfalls, and commanding sequoia trees.
Find Yosemite National Park about four hours’ drive from the city, famous for its 3,000-year-old giant sequoias which have been UNESCO protected since 1864.
World-famous hikes that wind amongst the foliage, passing waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, clear streams, deep lakes and pristine wilderness attract some 3.5 million visitors each year.
With so much on offer across its 1,200 square miles, you’d be mad not to stay and play a few nights, with plenty of accommodation styles from camping to cabins to host your visit.
If you fancy outsourcing the itinerary creation, choose between 1-3 day tours ex San Fransisco, which package the best of the park into a highlights reel of activity.
Sonoma Wine Country, 1 hour 30 minute drive
Great climate and rich soil might make Sonoma Wine Country such a great growing region, but it’s the hospitality and ongoing wine offering from the 425 (plus!) vintners here, that make it so good to stay.
Sonoma County is the largest wine producer in Northern California's Wine Country region, and is recognised on the international stage when it comes to delicious drops.
Across the region, 60 grape varieties are grown with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir the picks of the region, producing over 100,000 tons collectively each year.
That said, vines only cover six percent of the country – so for those driving, you can expect superb cruising conditions to the backdrop of redwood forests, crashing ocean surf, broad plains and grasslands, a lush river valley, mountains, and rolling hills.
We’d recommend setting off early from San Fransisco to make the most of Sonoma, taking Highway 101.
Silicon Valley, 55 minute drive
When you think of a tech brand name, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s got an office in Silicon Valley.
Souvenirs take a different turn here when you can pop into the Apple company store – and take home a tech gadget direct from the source.
No surprises most visitors enjoy exploring the different tech hubs, or playing student wandering the grounds of Stanford University hoping to overhear a tech breakthrough from next gen entrepreneurs.
Forget touring stars’ homes as you would in Los Angeles, in Silicon Valley, take a tour back in time to where each tech giant began. Take Palo Alto for example where you can see the very garage HP began.
No matter your itinerary, don’t leave without a selfie taken from the Facebook campus’ iconic “like” sign.
Monterey, 2 hour 25 minute drive
Calling all Big Little Lies fans - if you’ve got a Madeline and Celeste shaped hole in your heart from the ending of the iconic HBO series, a trip to Monterey ought to fill it.
You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the Bixby Creek Bridge – the very one that appears in the opening credits of the show.
The journey is as spectacular as the destination itself, looking like it stepped off a car commercial and onto your travel itinerary.
You’ll want to touch your tyres to tarmac to trace the rugged Pacific coastline, taking 17-Mile Drive, which offers up sweeping views of the ocean while weaving through the Del Monte Forest.
Allow extra time for scenic photo opportunities along the way, including a stop at the renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links course.
Even if you’ve never stepped foot on a course, it’s well worth the stop because Pebble Beach is the kind of green many avid golfers only dream of playing.
For those keen to tee off – be aware bookings are made up to 12 months in advance for a pretty penny.
Even though playing slots are hard to come by, there’s no barrier to the 19th hole, whether it be to drink in the views or enjoy one from one of the many resort bars.