Just three hours from our area, Lake Tahoe is a favorite all-season destination for locals. It is the largest alpine lake in North America and the second deepest lake in the U.S. From late spring to early fall, the lake is famous for water sports, beach activities, hiking, and biking. The Flume Trail of the east shore is one of Mountain Biking Magazine's Top 10 Trails in the U.S. Tahoe is also a winter playground with 12 ski slopes for downhill, cross-country, tubing and snowshoeing.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Located at the ocean's edge on historic Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is known as one of the best aquariums in the world dedicated to marine research and conservation. Visitors are provided with a window to marine life — sea otters, penguins, sharks, jellies, and thousands of other marine animals and plants. This Aquarium is known worldwide for its interactive exhibits and ability to present marine life on a truly grand scale.
Muir Woods National Monument is just a few miles north of San Francisco. The 558-acre monument preserves one of the last remaining ancient redwood forests in the Bay Area. Some of the redwoods are nearly 1,000 years old and reach heights of more than 250 feet. Trails wind among the trees to Cathedral Grove and Bohemian Grove, and along Redwood Creek. This national treasure is home to more than 380 different plants and animals, including 27 species of mammals, 50 species of birds, 12 species of reptiles, and five species of amphibians. Entrance and parking reservations are required.
Boasting some of the best wine in the country, Napa Valley is home to beautiful vineyards that offer tours and wine tasting for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the California countryside. It’s impossible to go wrong with any vineyard in the area, but some highlights include Monticello, Domaine Carneros, V. Sattui, and Castello di Amorosa.
Ocean Beach provides a wide open space for locals to spend a relaxing day beside the Pacific shoreline, adjacent to the urban center of San Francisco. This famous beach, though often overcast, features space for evening bonfires and nearby hiking trails.
Point Reyes National Park
Point Reyes reserves a prime example of the beauty of California’s coast, with approximately 80 miles of shoreline. Next to the cliff-lined beaches are gorgeous hiking trails and campgrounds in pastoral fields of coastal vegetation and wildlife. Visitors can see why this area is reserved for its natural allure.
Presidio of San Francisco
The Presidio is a hallmark of San Francisco’s dedication to preserving nature and beauty for its residents. Visitors to this massive park have countless opportunities: Explore the Walt Disney museum, play and relax at the park, eat at one of the high-class restaurants, hike through beautiful eucalyptus trees, or enjoy breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Santa Cruz boasts beautiful beaches and views. Its long wharf, with eateries and shops, stretches into Monterey Bay. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s vintage rides include the 1911 Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper roller coaster. Walk along West Cliff Drive and visit the Natural Bridges State Beach, known for its bridge-shaped rock formation. Downtown, Pacific Avenue has vintage clothing stores, cafes, and galleries.
Yosemite National Park in the beautiful Sierra Nevadas is a magical destination worth the drive and extended planning required to make it your best vacation. Known for its awe-inspiring vistas, granite icons, breath-taking waterfalls, and giant redwoods – you’ll always be able to create incredible memories at Yosemite. Places to stay include various options, from rustic lodges and cabins to camping in the woods. Reservations for all options are available a year in advance and are strongly recommended, especially from spring to the fall.