Best Day and Weekend Trips:
There is a great number of new families coming to Sonoma County. There’s also a lot of people just looking for something fun to do over the weekend who don’t know where to start. Here are a few of our favorite day and weekend trips from Sonoma County!
Within an hour:
Famous and quaint, this local favorite is a regular day or even half day trip for Sonoma County residents. With great beaches for families, like Doren Beach, where the surf is calm enough for kids to play in and great for tide pooling with the family, to Salmon Creek to watch the surfers, or Goat Rock a bit further down the road, you can’t go wrong. Be sure to check out Spud Point and get some Clam Chowder, Crab Sandwiches, or some Fish and Chips. Eat it while sitting at the harbor then head up the mountain to catch the whale migration (certain times of the year). Stop in the town of Bodega to see the real buildings used as the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s famous movie the Birds!
We always bring out of town guests here on the way out to Bodega Bay. Take River Road out to Guerneville and spend a couple hours among the towering redwoods. Maybe stop at Korbel for a tour and some champagne on the way. The flat trails are an easy journey for all physical capabilities. Take in the fresh air and sounds of nature while enjoying a uniquely California experience.
Marin Headlands and Sausalito-
The Marin Headlands may be one of the most incredible pieces of real estate on this planet and we have the privilege of having it in our back yard! Take the very last exit just before the Bridge and explore the miles and miles the Headlands have to offer. Between WWII forts, beautiful military housing, miles of hiking trails, beaches, and the most amazing view of the Golden Gate bridge both from above at the top of the headlands in multiple spots or from the Fort on the shore or on the pier below the Bridge. Make sure to drive all around the headlands as each spot is in its own space so there’s a lot to explore! Once you’re done in the headlands head down to Sausalito for some food and explore the shops, galleries, and best of all, the views!
With or without watercraft Lake Sonoma is a great place to get away for a few hours or the day and have some fun. With hiking trails, fishing, swimming, BBQ, vista, and horseback riding opportunities there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful reserve. Check out the fish hatchery to watch the fish run or to educate your kids on conservation! Also make sure to stop at Chateau Diane for a wine slushy and snacks or one of the many other wineries in the Dry Creek Valley.
What can we say about this incredible city in such a short paragraph? We will have to do an entire post one day just on this home away from home for many Sonoma County residents. In addition to the usual tourist spots like Pier 39 we want to recommend our favorite spots to stop in the city. The Ferry Building is always a great place to start. Either take the Ferry from Sausalito or Tiburon on the Marin side of the bridge or stop by while you’re in the city. The architecture, many local vendors, farmers markets, and views make this a favorite for locals and tourists alike. Muse Magnifique houses antique arcade games which you can still play! We can’t express how special this collection is and what an experience it is to go and enjoy some time playing some of these games. Stop in China Town for some Dim Sum. Extremely inexpensive and a fun way to eat we always get ours from Good Mong Kok Bakery (look for the inevitably long line on Stockton Street, it goes fast and is so worth it. We get lunch for two for under $10 every time!) and walk to Washington Square Park and eat while enjoying the view of the magnificent church. When you’re in Union Square take a quick detour to Marakesh on O’Ferrell St for a unique and authentic Moroccan dining experience. Between the beautiful décor, waiters who wash your hands with orange blossom water at your table, belly dancers, music and all the other great surprises here it is an evening you wont soon forget. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk through Haight Ashbury and enjoy the street Murals on the buildings and many amazing small shops. This world famous district will lead you right to Golden Gate Park where we highly recommend the Science Academy and its combination rainforest-aquarium-planetarium-science exhibit for a longer activity or the Japanese Tea Gardens for a bit less time consuming but equally as enthralling. Chrissy Field, Off the Grid, Indoor Minigolf, Giants games, Comedy Shows, Dolores Park, Ghirardelli Square, SF Opera, SF Ballet, and visiting the many large Hotels during Christmas are a few of our other favorite San Francisco activities.
Within 2 Hours:
Sacramento is a great place to escape for the day or overnight. Oldtown Sac, the Drive In Movie Theatre, Concerts, Basketball games, and the Train Museum are a few of the places we’ve visited over the years that did not disappoint. Take an hour or so to stop at the Spaghetti Factory for lunch, a Sacramento classic. The kids will love the décor and adults love the food! Take some time to see the river and the iconic Sacramento Bridge.
Maybe not the first place you think of going away to but San Jose has become a destination of it’s own! We love to stay and shop on Santana Row. Try Maggiano’s for lunch and spend a few hours going through the many diverse shops. Head across the street to the Winchester Mansion and learn about the spooky architecture and tour this grand, albeit confusing, home of the late Winchester widow. What started as a small farmhouse ultimately became a six story high Victorian wonder built with the goal of escaping a curse and trapping vengeful spirits. I have never heard of someone leaving this attraction disappointed. Don’t forget to tour the well-manicured gardens and try your hand at axe throwing!
Santa Cruz is a fun place to visit with more to do than you might think. While the boardwalk is a can’t miss trip we also recommend saving some time to spend on the beach. Lay out, splash in the waves, take a surfing lesson, play volleyball or toss a frisbee. The weather is usually great in the summer and the view of the pier and water is worth taking the time to soak in. For a fun tour take a ride on the Roaring Camp Railroads from Santa Cruz into the mountains, through the Redwoods, across the river gorge and back to the Boardwalk.
A relaxing getaway not too far from home Monterey offers a wide variety of activities. Check out a winery or drive down the road to surf. Take a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and get up close and personal with fish, rays, otters and many more sea creatures. From the back deck its not unheard of to see passing pods of dolphins or migrating whales. After the Aquarium walk down Cannery Row for a bite to eat and some shopping. Don’t forget to take a scenic trip down the 17 Mile drive. Certain times of year you’ll see a massive amount of butterflies who migrate through the area. The views are great year-round!
Believe it or not Tahoe can be a day trip! Many Sonoma County Snow Boarders and Skiers leave early in the morning for the 3.5-4 hour drive to the resort, spend the day on the slopes, then head home at the end of the day. If you want to do more than ski for the day grab a room at a hotel or rent a cabin on air bnb. Spend the weekend on the lake and rent some jet skis or a boat. Take a hike on one or more of the hundreds of trails. Drive from one side of the lake to the other, Northlake and Southlake each have a very different feel. You can also gamble on the Nevada side or head to a resort to take in a comedy show or concert. Stop at Scheel’s in Reno for a unique shopping experience that can be fun for everyone. With water parks, outdoor adventures like ATV rentals, events like Hot August Nights and Street Vibrations, there is always something to do!
Beyond the beautiful lake you can also find a few other unique activities to do in Shasta County. Hang out at a waterfall on a hike, or take an adventure below the surface and explore the famous and ancient caverns. Fun and educational this is a unique experience everyone can appreciate.
We cannot say enough about Yosemite. We truly believe this a spot everyone should see at least once. The majesty of the valley with its towering cliffs, giant waterfalls, meadows of wildflowers, flowing rivers, and expansive views you could spend an eternity here and never tire of the view. Go to the top of the mountain to view Half Dome and the Valley from above. Don’t forget to stop at Tunnel View on the way up to get a once in a lifetime view of El Capitan and the rest of the valley’s cliff structures. Accommodating all types of travel you can camp, bring an RV, get a glamping site, a hotel room, rent an Airbnb, or even rough it in the wilderness. Don’t for a moment believe this is a summer only destination either. Come in the winter for a totally different experience and landscape. Snowshoe across the valley and enjoy the lack of crowds. Mobility issues? No worries, there are plenty of accessible areas of the park for everyone in the family to enjoy this national treasure.
A one hour flight from SFO or the Sonoma County airport usually is under $100-200 or you can leave early and make the 6 hour drive. Enjoy a trip to Disneyland or spend time in Hollywood and Orange County taking in all that SoCal has to offer.
Another inexpensive and very short flight Las Vegas is a city that needs no explanation or introduction. Fly from SFO or Sonoma County airport. Enjoy the weekend and be back in time to work on Monday!
Another quick flight from either SFO or Sonoma County Airport San Diego has a ton to offer! Go to Balboa Park and see the Nation’s largest zoo, the Air and Space Museum, SD Museum of Art, Japanese Friendship Garden, and more. Take a day and spend it on one of the warm beaches. Eat seafood on a restaurant terrace overlooking the water, or get adventurous and go diving in La Jolla. There is no shortage of activities!