Top 5 Vacations and Day Trips in the Bay Area

 March 15, 2022

By  Elle Gellrich

Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or a weeklong adventure, San Francisco has all you need for a vacation. Here are the top five things to do if you are ready to relax and enjoy the Bay Area.

1. Cruises

San Francisco is a port city, which means plenty of cruise ships are leaving locally. The most common routes are Alaska, Mexico, or Hawaii. You could even take a spring break family cruise! Cruises are a great way to relax as your meals and activities on the ship will already be planned for you. Many cruises also offer whale watching and other wildlife opportunities.

2. State Parks

If you are looking for a quick weekend trip, look no further than the many state parks in the Bay Area.

  • Candlestick Point State Recreation AreaLocated on the western shore of the Bay, Candlestick Point State Recreation Area has plenty to offer close to home. Plenty of wildlife and walking trails cover the landscape as well as views of the bay and nearby mountains. Candlestick Point is also a popular spot for fishing.
  • Angel Island State ParkFor those looking to escape to nature,  Angel Island State Park is just a short ferry ride away. The island is the largest in the Bay Area and boasts a ton of history and wildlife viewing, as well as trails for recreation. Take a long weekend and camp on Angel Island to experience all it has to offer.
  • Half Moon Bay State BeachHalf Moon Bay is just south of the city and is another great spot for weekend camping. The beach is over four miles long and has several developed campsites. The Coastside Trail runs along the beach and offers great views of the ocean along its accessible three miles.

3. Alcatraz Island

One of the more famous attractions near San Francisco is Alcatraz Island, home to the infamous penitentiary. Take a cruise over to this historic landmark and explore the cell house and island. Or, book a specialty tour such as the behind-the-scenes or night tour to experience Alcatraz in a unique way. There is more to the island than its time as a prison, however. Alcatraz Island was home to a Civil War-era military stronghold. The island’s natural beauty alone is also worth the ferry ride across the Bay.

4. PIER 39

If retail therapy is your idea of a day well spent, you need to check out PIER 39. There are over 50 shops spread over two stories, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. Additionally, there are plenty of restaurants to try while enjoying great views of the Bay. Entertainment on the pier includes street performers, amusement rides, escape rooms, and even sailing. For animal lovers, PIER 39 also has enough marine life to keep you busy all day. The Aquarium of the Bay offers over 20,000 species and several interactive exhibits. Don’t forget to say hi to the sea lions that live on the K-Dock of the pier!

5. Lands End Lookout

Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the stunning Lands End Lookout. Here you will find miles of hiking and biking trails along the coast and spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The cliffs at Lands End offer a magnificent backdrop for your outdoor recreation. The Lands End Lookout is also full of history. Three shipwrecks can be seen at low tide. A World War II memorial is also located in the park. Dating back even earlier are the Sutro Baths. Once a public bathhouse in the late 1800s, now the ruins are open for the public to explore.

There are day trips and vacation destinations throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Whether you are looking for wildlife, ready to explore the rich history of the area, or just want to enjoy nature, you don’t have to venture far to find the perfect vacation.

Elle Gellrich


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