Escaping from Alcatraz and San Francisco for a day on vacation


San Francisco cityscape as seen from Alamo square park

  • San Francisco cityscape as seen from Alamo square park
  • family in san francisco

San Francisco is by far one of the most visited cities on vacation in the U.S., and also one of the most populated. With major attractions like Alcatraz Island, the waterfront, and such, you may “top out” on the busy crowds and long lines, and just need an escape. So why not plan ahead on a day trip out of the big city?

San Francisco cityscape with the Painted Ladies as seen from Alamo square park

San Francisco cityscape with the Painted Ladies as seen from Alamo square park

One of the best “no brainer” is spending a day in Napa/Sonoma, even if you aren’t a big wine sipper. The relaxing environment in the country, outdoor gardens and picnic places alone are worth a visit. They also feature some of the finest and relaxing day spas and hot springs for you to get that relaxation.

Less than an hour and a half away from San Francisco, you can hit the wine trail on your own, or take a wine tour being chauffeured around in a limo or Lincoln Town car. Really, if there are a few of you it’s the way to go, especially if you will be sipping a whole bunch of wine. Fact is, you probably should choose either Napa or Sonoma and just do one, because each offers a super amount of sightseeing and wine tasting that can fill an entire day. And of course, this gives you a whole new destination for the future visit you know you’ll be making.

Hot Tip: Some of my favorite wineries to tour and taste are, St. Francis Vineyards, V. Sattui, Beringer and Opus One Winery.

family enjoying view at golden gate bridge, san francisco, california

Family enjoying view at Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco, California

Jump into your rental vehicle and head to Yosemite National Park, 1.5 hours drive for a truly beautiful experience. No photograph you will ever see can take the place of actually seeing these sights yourself. From enjoying three of the world’s tallest waterfalls, to its majestic peaks, no wonder it is so popular to photographers from around the world. Although you can easily enjoy the park from your vehicle, the ability to climb some of the trails offers some of the best view.

Another highly popular destinations for locals and visitors are Lake Tahoe located on the California-Nevada border. If you are visiting during the winter months, the snow parks and skiing is epic. During the summer months, the water toys and sports come alive.  You can rent water toys including boats, water ski, stand up paddleboard and more. One of my favorite tours is the Historic Thunderbird Lodge tour. You get to ride across the lake to the Castle Lodge on board the historic classic wooden Thunderbird Yacht, sipping cocktails made by a on-board tender. When you arrive you enjoy a guided tour of the lodge. The tour just makes a fun and interesting half day tour, and for the price well worth it.

Another drive down the beautiful California coasts on Rout 1A takes you to the Redwood National Park where you can spend time with giants. In fact these redwoods stand over 380 feet and taller, so be sure to spend some time looking up!

Some of the trees in the park have bases as large as the standard car. Make sure to bring your hiking shoes because there are stunning trails for all ages. One of the most popular hikes is the Trillium Falls trail, a 2-mile hike. You can see many types of wildlife along the way. One suggestion is to be prepared to see the hind end of one of the local black bears, because that’s all you usually get to see.

Keep in mind while visiting the Redwoods that even during the heat of summer, it gets pretty cool in this forest, so bring a layer of clothes.

If the weather is tempting you to the beach and you want to get away from local San Francisco crowds, head to Rockaway Beach in San Mateo County. You get to experience less crowds and beach on its brown colored sandy beaches. The nice part about this beach is right close by are some excellent restaurants, and hotels if you feel the need to stay overnight.


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