man with surfboards on car
February 21, 2023

Best Travel Destinations From San Francisco

If you're looking to take a break from the fast-paced San Francisco city life, there are many beautiful locations to visit just a car ride away. From scenic ocean views to mountain retreats, the Bay Area offers a destination for any traveler. Check out this list of the best travel destinations near San Francisco and plan your next adventure. 

Point Reyes 

Located about an hour north of the city, Point Reyes is one of the best starting points for a trip from San Francisco. This popular cape offers plenty of hiking trails, beaches, and camping spots to explore. 

While you're there, check out Alamere Falls, a waterfall in the Phillip Burton Wilderness that flows directly into the ocean. The falls can be accessed from the Palomarin Trailhead in Point Reyes, an out-and-back trail of approximately 8.4 miles.   

Santa Cruz 

Enjoy the coastal views in Santa Cruz, the famous college beach town located an hour from San Francisco. Known for its surf culture, the town offers plenty of beaches for catching waves or posting up in the sand for a relaxing afternoon.  

If you prefer spending quality time in nature, the area is home to beautiful redwood-covered mountains for hiking and camping. You can also take a leisurely drive along the coast to admire the scenery or explore the city's wharf.  


Only 35 minutes from San Francisco, Sausalito is a city with small-town charm and plenty of restaurants and shops to visit. It's also an ideal destination for sailing and kayaking around the San Francisco Bay.  

Once you're done with the surf and sand, head out to Muir Woods to find hiking or biking trails and get lost among the redwood forest. As a federally protected National Monument, the park offers many recreational opportunities and natural sites to explore.  

Big Sur 

If you're looking to be blown away by the beauty of the West Coast, take a Zipcar from San Francisco to Big Sur. This rugged coastal region is known for its seaside cliffs and breathtaking views of the coastline. Located 2.5 hours away, Big Sur is the ideal destination to plan a 4-day road trip from San Francisco over a long weekend.  

One of Big Sur's highlights is McKay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, an 80-foot waterfall that drops from the granite cliffs into the ocean. The higher elevation trails at the park also offer panoramic views of the water.  


Drive a couple hours south of San Francisco and you'll reach Monterey, a coastal city with scenic mountain views that offers great family-friendly activities. Check out the MY Museum, Monterey Zoo, or the cutting-edge Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best aquariums in the world.  

After a full day of exploration, take a stroll along the historic Fisherman's Wharf, where you'll find no shortage of fresh seafood restaurants to choose from. The wharf also offers souvenir shopping, fishing, and whale watching. Embark on a sailing adventure and observe the seals, sea otters, pelicans, and other wildlife that call Monterey home.  

No matter where you choose to visit from San Francisco, the Zipcar rental app is a reliable way to get there.