Wine, wine, and a bit more wine. That’s at least three reasons why we love the countryside around San Francisco. Throw in rolling green hills, towering Redwoods and a handful of awe-inspiring national parks and it’s not hard to see why thousands of people flock to San Francisco each year. Tempting as it is to stay in the cosmopolitan comfort of the city’s boundaries, we urge you to get out and explore, enjoy getting back to nature and, of course, a tipple or two of wine.
Home to the famous Napa Valley and Sonoma wine countries, San Francisco’s mild, temperate climate provides the perfect growing conditions for some of the most delicious wine-grapes in the world. Napa Valley is nestled between the Mayacamas mountain range and the Vaca Mountains, making it one of the most beautiful and picturesque locations for vineyards in the world. To reach the wineries outside of San Francisco, you’ll take a trip over The Golden Gate Bridge from which you can enjoy stunning views over Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline, which is another great reason to take a day trip out of the city. On arrival, many of the wineries in Napa Valley offer tours of their vineyards, which include a peek behind the scenes, a lesson in how the wines are made and, of course, a sampling session of the local produce. You can easily visit 3-4 wineries in a day, especially if you book a place on an established tour, which will take you to a number of the best vineyards in the Napa and Sonoma Valley. If you only have a limited amount of time in San Francisco but still want to enjoy the wine country, Sonoma Valley can be enjoyed in a half day, where you can still enjoy 2-3 fabulous wineries.
If wine’s not your thing, another great way to get out into the wilds is with a trip to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is a haven for fans of the great outdoors, with hiking trails, rock climbing and horse riding just some of the activities you can enjoy in the park. Remember to bring your camera as you explore Yosemite Valley and come across El Capitan, the prominent granite cliff which looms over Yosemite Valley and is one of the most popular climbing destinations for rock climbing enthusiasts. The magical Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in the whole of North America and there are also a number of smaller waterfalls to be enjoyed by visitors. The best times to enjoy these stunning waterfalls is in the late spring or early summer, when the ice begins to melt off the glaciers (and it’s not too chilly!). You can take a full day tour to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco and take the stress out of driving, as well as the added benefits of a knowledgeable tour leader so you don’t end up roaming the trails of Yosemite late into the night.
You may already know that California is famous for more than it’s wine and fantastic national parks; it’s also home to the most incredible Redwood trees that soar high into the clouds and even hold the accolade for tallest tree in the world. Standing next to one of these incredible redwood giants can leave you feeling a little overwhelmed – they really need to be seen to be believed. Some of the best examples of these beautiful trees can be found in Muir Woods, a short drive from the centre of the city. The 550 acre wood is home to some of the oldest trees in the world and is a federally protected area due to its outstanding natural beauty. Further along the coast is the beautiful town of Sausalito, home to the rich and fabulous inhabitants of the San Fran area. A charming Mediterranean-style town set on the beach, you can enjoy art galleries, high end shopping and even indulge in a bit of people spotting. The two spots make a great day trip and, with advance booking, you can arrange transport between all the locations in one easy swoop.
To find out more about the exciting things you can experience in and around San Francisco, check out our great-value deals on San Francisco attractions.