The Great Escape: The Haute 5 Weekend Getaways Near San Francisco

With access by car to the many beaches, mountains, lakes and parks of Northern California, San Francisco is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts to call home. Today we take a look at five fabulous destinations for those who want to experience the richness of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Wine Country

The Napa and Sonoma valleys are major travel destinations for visitors from all around the world. One never gets tired of its charms, and even the most travelled individuals make a point of revisiting the area whenever possible. So how lucky is the San Franciscan who can access this world famous destination with just a simple 45 minute drive to the north. Many of San Francisco’s most prominent families maintain Summer homes in Napa and Sonoma counties.

Visit for a detailed visitors guide to the area.

Lake Tahoe

Whether skiing in the Winter or boating on the Lake in the Spring, Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful resort destinations in the United States. There’s a quiet, relaxed elegance to life in Lake Tahoe, where people go to enjoy the natural surroundings and breathe the crisp, clean air in total peace and quiet. The entertainment of the old-fashioned Nevada casinos can be a fun diversion too! It’s about 3.5 hours by car from San Francisco.

Visit the Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau for more information.

Muir Woods

The 19th century conservationist John Muir called the old-growth redwood forest, comprising several hundred acres near Mill Valley, north of San Francisco, “the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.” And so when President Theodore Roosevelt declared the forest a national monument, it was named after John Muir in honor of his influential conservationist work. The beauty of Muir Woods is truly awe inspiring, and located a mere 10 miles north of downtown San Francisco.

Visit the website of the National Park Service for further information.


Made famous by Clint Eastwood, who served as town mayor in the 1980s, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a favored getaway of both Southern Californians and Northern Californians. With its rocky coastline and dramatic wind-swept terrain, Carmel is one of the most romantic settings on the West Coast. The town is full of quaint shops with a relaxed bohemian style. But for glitz and glamour, Pebble Beach is the annual setting of the Concours d’ Elegance, and in 2010 is host to the US Open.

Visit for further information.

Bodega Bay

Alfred Hitchcock put Bodega Bay on the map with his 1963 film “The Birds.” Memorabilia from the film is unavoidable in town, and its star actress Tippi Hedren makes regular appearances to greet fans. But there is more to Bodega Bay than its movie history. For a romantic, secluded getaway by the beach, it can’t be beat. Although it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive north of San Francisco, it’s far enough that you can be assured of not seeing anyone you know — perfect for those weekends when you truly want privacy.

Visit the Bodega Bay Visitors Center for further information.