As an Angeleno I am always in awe of how different San Francisco is from its Southern sister. While the city itself is a bustling metropolis the towns and wilderness surrounding the city offer a never-ending amount of adventure and exploration. Whether you are a forest dweller, a beach lover, a hiker, photographer, artist or adventure junkie there is enough in this area to keep all of you mesmerized. Here are a few places I would add to your list of San Francisco day trips.
Located just a few miles over the Golden Gate bridge, Muir Woods is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation area is a popular place to come and view some of California's old growth Redwood trees. Multiple trails wind their way through the forest floor on well maintained paths easily accessible to all. Several other trails climb high up above offering views of the Pacific Ocean and Mount Tamalpais. Don't miss the huge trees in Cathedral Grove and make sure you wander along Redwood Creek where you can sit and listen to the birds chirping. See more of this beautiful place in the video below.
Iverness & Point Reyes Shipwreck
For the photographers in all of us stop at the inlet in Inverness to snap a photo of one of the most Instagrammed boats in the US. Beached behind a small market and deli the Inverness boat has become quite famous over the years. After your photo session stop at one of the local markets or restaurants for some absolutely fantastic homemade sandwiches, burritos or treats. The town is so cute it might just inspire you to stay here for a year and write a novel.
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore is a huge area and the diversity you will see when driving through here will most likely catch you by surprise. I had seen photos of the beautiful Point Reyes Lighthouse and decided to set out to see it. After stopping at the Point Reyes shipwreck in Inverness I set off towards the coast and into Point Reyes National Seashore.
The road to the lighthouse is an unmaintained country road so far removed from anything you would imagine just outside a big city. It meanders through miles upon miles of open cow pasture from farms that date back almost to the beginning of California's history. I felt like I was on an Azorean Island and not in California. As the countryside gives way to the coast you will soon be enveloped on both sides by the beauty and harshness of the Northern Pacific Ocean. Small turnoffs will take you to incredible solemn beaches where you can watch the waves crash in complete solitude.
At the turn off to Drake's beach you may even see a herd or two of Tule Elk. The best place to see the Elk are at Tomales Point. Back in the 1800's the Elk were brought to near extinction but thanks to an incredible reintroduction and protection program they are now thriving again in this area.
Take a break at Drake's Beach before you reach the lighthouse and if you're in the right season you might just see dozens of Elephant Seals sleeping on the beach. Just don't get too close.
After all that animal viewing head back on the road and finish your day at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Besides being one of the best places to see whales the walk to the lighthouse will also take you through a throng of wind blown trees akin to a fairytale. Watch for whales or take one of the many walking or hiking trails that goes down to North Beach before heading back to San Francisco.
Highway 1 to Davenport
From San Francisco head south along highway 1 for some incredible ocean views. Along this stretch of road you will pass through the towns of Pacifica and Half Moon Bay where you can stop for lunch, shopping or supplies. I recommend continuing on to the roadside community of Davenport where you can stop for some incredible pie, a coffee, beer or great sandwich. Across the street is miles of coastal bluffs you can wander along. Offering out of this world glimpses of birds, seals, wildlife and even some nude beachgoers.
Continuing south you will pass through the ritzy town of Carmel By the Sea and Monterey. For a long day's ride keep going through Big Sur, stop often for beach views and epic landscapes. In 2017 a landslide washed out the famous Bixby Bridge that has been in many a TV show like Big Little Lies and plenty of car commercials. It was just recently reopened which means visiting Pfeiffer State Beach is now a possibility once more.