11 Easy Day Trips from the City
Keep your travel this Memorial Day weekend close to home with these stress-free day trips around the Bay. Whether you’re feeling a road trip north to the idyllic Fort Ross or decide to be a tourist in one of San Francisco’s lively neighborhoods, take advantage of the extra day Memorial weekend has given you. All you’ll need is our fantastic guides, your camera and an adventurous spirit.
Expect to have full bellies, stretched out legs and perhaps some creamy cheese and brand new toys on your way back from Point Reyes. This coastal hamlet is only an hour away from San Francisco and has enough sights and delights to pack your day with fun. You might even spot some elephant seals in the distance!
Drive from the City: at least 1 hour
Don’t Forget: Visit Cowgirl Creamery for artisan cheeses and Toby’s Feed Barn to entertain the kids. If it’s foggy out, bring light jackets and layer-able clothing.
Photo: Don DeBold via Flickr creative commons
Jump into the past as you make the drive up to the impressive Fort Ross. This historic Russian fortress was a bustling base for Pacific trade, and kids can explore the chapel, living quarters, barracks and even an authentic Russian cottage.
Drive from the City: About 2 hours
Don’t Forget: Bring comfortable walking shoes, layered clothing and a beach blanket for the sandy shores. Bring your own lunch, this spot is a picnic paradise.
Photo: Vlad Butsky via Flickr creative commons
Venture East for unlimited fun with the kids. Speed over to Homeroom Racing Café to race on a miniature Grand Prix track, hit a hole in one at Subpar Miniature Golf or get old-school at the Pacific Pinball Museum. Afterwards, take in some fresh air at Memorial State Beach and make sand castles.
Drive from the City: About 30 minutes
Don’t Forget: Every Saturday is Off the Grid, the food truck and food choice haven for families with kids who want to eat different things. Also, consider taking the ferry across the Bay so kids can see massive cargo cranes in action.
Hike into the Berkeley hills where there’s a wild variety of fun, from farm animal feedings to choo-choo rides at Redwood Valley Railway. There’s also UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, for families who enjoy strolling through beautiful floral spaces.
Drive from the City: About 30 minutes
Don’t Forget: Tilden Park doesn’t have many full meal options, so packing your own healthy picnic lunch and snacks may be your best bet. But if you’re heading out and back home, stop by Zachary’s Chicago Pizza for the best pies of your life.
Enthusiastic flyers may be begging to hit up SFO, Oakland and San Jose terminals, but the view at those busy ports aren’t exactly ideal. So for the truly dedicated plane lovers, head over to Concord’s Buchanan Field Airport, where there’s a family-friendly observation zone that even includes a playground.
Drive from the City: About 40 minutes
Don’t Forget: There’s a Trader Joe’s across the airport for any family that doesn’t want to pack a lunch, but want to stay on the lot.
This historic hub is a landmark for all kinds of Chinese eats, treats and learning. Take your kiddo to the Chinese Historical Society of America, where there’s a collection of Chinatown miniatures, and check out amazing murals that line the old buildings. Don’t leave without indulging in the many amazing eats from Chinatown’s best bakeries. Pst – many Chinese goods taste even better when toasted the day after!
Don’t Forget: Check the website Is The Golden Gate Bakery open today? to make sure your trip for the best egg tarts in the world is actually open.
Photo: Jakub Kadlec via Flickr creative commons
As the Beat Generation’s stomping ground, North Beach is one bustling neighborhood that makes any day trip a blast. Dip and dart throughout the nooks and crannies to find top-notch bakeries and shops. Kids can burn off their energy in the park before finishing the day at an old-school Italian-American eatery.
Don’t Forget: Pop into North Beach’s newly opened library at Columbus and Lombard St.! This building plays sound recordings of San Francisco city life, from sea gulls to church bells.
Navigate through the Haight with our kid-friendly guide. There’s the Kids Only toy store that will hold your tot’s attention for hours before they’re willing to stop for food. Luckily there’s no shortage of scrumptious eats either. Get a classic American meal at Magnolia’s and then stop by the Ben and Jerry’s store for dessert!
Don’t Forget: Hit up and support one of the best independent bookstores in the city: The Booksmith. If you insist on driving, bring coins for the meter as it can run up to $10 for your stay. The Haight is also extremely easy to get to via public transport.
Photo: Kids Only via Facebook
A quiet escape within the City? That’s right, Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve is an enchanted forest right in Cole Valley, where you and your fam can trek along dirt baths without being too far from home. Baby joggers can tackle the shorter trails, while longer (not stroller friendly) ones might have tiny tots requesting a piggyback ride or two.
Don’t Forget: Stop by 9th and Irving St. for a pre-hike brunch or post-hike dinner. There’s a newly opened La Boulange, the ever so loved Arizmendi Bakery, Sunset Bakery (on Judah and 9th), which is known for it’s pineapple buns and strawberry cake, and Manna, an inexpensive and quick Korean food restaurant.
Head south for a warmer guarantee of sunny weather and enjoy the natural beauty of Pescadero. Naturalists big and small can trail along flat, easy hikes and catch a glimpse of blue heroes, egrets and many other magnificent birds. After getting your day’s worth of exercise, head to Duarte’s Tavern or Arcangeli’s for some amazing food.
Drive from the City: About 1 hour
Don’t Forget: Bring a pair of binoculars so that you can see the birds up close and personal. Or if farm animals are more your style, visit Harley Goat Farm for a tour and dinner!
Photo: Rebecca Shiraev via Flickr creative commons
Hikers are going to love Pacific Grove, aka “Butterfly town USA.” Hiking at Point Lobos State Reserve also means a chance to see adorable sea lions, otters and even deer. Tidepool with the little ones at Asilomar Beach, or visit the Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast. And of course, there’s amazing food options, like raspberry-coconut pancakes from First Awakenings.
Drive From the City: About 2 hours
Don’t Forget: The coast can get windy, so bring an extra jacket and comfortable shoes for the walk.
Which day trips are you going to make this Memorial weekend? Share it with us in the comments below!
— Christal Yuen