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San Francisco day trips: A guide to nearby getaways
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San Francisco day trips: A guide to nearby getaways

Once you’ve hit up Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf, taken a stroll through Golden Gate Park and hopped on a cable car, you might be ready to take a break from navigating San Francisco’s steep and crooked streets in favor of a relaxing getaway. Find a reprieve from the crowds by taking your car rental in San Francisco just a few hours away from the city for an exciting day trip or romantic overnight stay in a neighboring community. The California coast is as diverse as it is long, and you’ll see an entirely different side of northern California by venturing out.

Sonoma Valley
Avoid the crowds in popular Napa Valley and drive your San Francisco rental car to Sonoma Valley instead, where breathtaking views surround the historic downtown Sonoma and individual appellations. Plan on tasting wine at two or three vineyards, and enjoy the culture of each neighborhood by visiting Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and the Russian River Valley on the shore of Clear Lake. You’ll be sure to appreciate the working class vibe of Sonoma Valley while visiting family-owned wineries that have been perfecting their craft for multiple generations.

Mendocino’s North Coast Redwoods
Take your San Francisco car rental for a scenic drive 4 hours north of San Francisco through the Redwood forests to Mendocino County, a rural retreat with a population of just over 87,000. The main industry in Mendocino is tourism, and it boasts over 15 independent inns with romantic coastal views. By driving just 15 miles north of Mendocino you’ll discover Fort Bragg, which offers a rustic ambiance and numerous camp sites.

Point Reyes Seashore
Make sure to grab your jacket before taking your rental car in San Francisco for a drive up to Point Reyes Seashore; it’s extremely windy, but it’s worth the hike out to the lighthouse during whale-watching season. You also will want to be sure you’ve remembered your camera for this day trip, since the drive past pastoral scenes filled with cows and horses grazing is a perfect spot to stop for a photoshoot. The long stretches of open beach are ideal for a stroll at sunset, and the trip offers a great opportunity to check out a quaint bed & breakfast since it’s a full day’s drive from San Francisco.