Book your CampspotBook Now
Camping Destinations

4 Charming Day Trips From San Francisco?

by Libby ThompsonMar 24, 2023
4 Charming Day Trips From San Francisco?

San Francisco locals and visitors alike know that the city’s surrounding area offers much to explore. Northern California and the Sacramento River Delta draw visitors year-round with a warm, humid climate and plenty of water features. After you’ve had your fill of gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge and touring Alcatraz, load up the car or the RV for these sun-soaked day trips from San Francisco.

Rio Vista

lake near San Francisco, surrounded by palm trees and yellow flowers

For riverside relaxation, head to Rio Vista. Rio Vista is one of the best day trips from San Francisco thanks to its mild climate and proximity to countless waterways. With many dog-friendly attractions and various opportunities to get in the water, this laid-back destination makes for a lovely adventure for families of all activity levels. Whether you come with a boat in tow or a tried-and-true tackle box, Rio Vista promises a bounty of natural beauty.

Just an hour outside of San Francisco, this small town offers access to various parks and recreation areas.

Grizzly Island Wildlife Area

Grizzly Island Wildlife Area encompasses 88,000 acres and a wide variety of ecosystems, from marshes and bays to land and sloughs. Hike, fish, hunt, or canoe within this serene park. Keep an eye out for birds, deer, and more.

Sherman Island County Park

Known for its windsurfing opportunities, Sherman Island County Park is popular among boaters and anglers alike. Cast a line for salmon and bass or catch a breeze kite-boarding.

Brannan Island State Recreation Area

A perfect stop for families with children and dogs, Brannan Island State Recreation Area offers swimming, fishing, and boating opportunities galore in a pleasantly mild climate.

Where to Spend the Night: Delta Marina Yacht Harbor

RV parked at campground near water on day trip from San Francisco

If you find yourself extending your day trip in order to spend more time in these beautiful spaces, book a spot at the Delta Marina Yacht Harbor. With views of the stunning Sacramento River, cable TV, and a boat launch, this campground has everything you need for a relaxing waterfront getaway. Kick back beneath the palm trees and swap stories as the sun sinks over the river.

Santa Cruz 

ocean waves hitting pier and cliffs at Santa Cruz near San Francisco

Less than an hour and a half south of San Francisco, Santa Cruz is a quaint coastal city with a vintage boardwalk and charming eateries. If you’re looking for that idyllic Monterey Bay vibe, Santa Cruz fits the bill. Stroll along the wharf, pop into beachside shops, and snap photos of the sea lions on one of the most picturesque day trips from San Francisco. Don’t forget to catch a sunset over the water.

Play in the waves and relax in the sand at Cowell Beach, located right on the wharf. You might even catch a local event like Swing Dancing by the Sea! Bring your four-legged family members for a seaside adventure at dog-friendly Mitchell’s Cove Beach, where unique rock formations and interesting tide pools can keep you busy all day long. For surfers, Seabright State Beach takes the cake, and adventurous beachgoers can explore the nearby sandstone arch and cave during low tide.

The Santa Cruz area is also ideal for hikers. Henry Cowell Redwood State Park offers routes for all levels, and Loch Lomond Recreation Area is full of shady trails and waterside vistas. Wander beneath the shelter of the iconic Redwoods and breathe the fresh air.

Where to Spend the Night: Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

tent and RVS at Santa Cruz RV resort

To extend your day trip for extra beach and hike time, book a stay at Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort. Fish, grill, build a campfire, and enjoy the clubhouse on the grounds. Enjoy easy proximity to all that the Santa Cruz area has to offer. From RV sites to tent pavilions, Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is complete with accommodation options for every taste.

Sonoma County

vineyard at Sonoma County

Less than a two-hour drive from the city center, Sonoma County makes an ideal day trip from San Francisco. Known for its vineyards and farms, this elevated nature scape appeals to outdoor recreationists as well as travelers seeking cultural experiences. Stroll or picnic at Goat Rock Beach. Head to Sonoma Coast State Park for stunning beach scenery, hiking routes, and equestrian trails.

Where to Spend the Night: Casini Ranch Family Campground

cabin with camp chairs at campground near San Francisco

If the idea of exploring the area’s countless hiking trails, breathtaking beaches, and over 425 wineries warrants longer than one day on your itinerary, book a stay at Casini Ranch Family Campground. A 2023 Campspot Awards winner in four categories, this campground alone is a great reason to venture up the coast!

From the scenic backdrop to the bounty of riverside activities, this campground caters to families, friend groups, and solo adventurers alike. Book a 10-person cottage for the ultimate family vacation, opt for the ultra-luxurious Ranch House, or pitch a tent at this sprawling 110-acre ranch. Between the beach, the boat launch, the array of sports and the playground, there’s no shortage of things to do at this family owned and operated gem.


vineyard and white house at Lodi near San Francisco

With a charming historic downtown area and more than 85 boutique wineries, Lodi is one of the best day trips from San Francisco for those looking to relax and unwind. A favorite among cyclists, this quaint city features flat country roads perfect for miles and miles of biking. Bike from the lovely downtown area to memorable nature preserves like the Cosumnes River Preserve, Micke Grove Park, and more. Birders, hikers, and lake beach lovers all find peace and relaxation in Lodi.

Where to Spend the Night: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Tower Park

aerial view of pool and water park at campground

For extra time to take in this laid-back oasis, book a stay at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Tower Park. These accommodations are ideal for taking advantage of the year-round Mediterranean climate in the area, with multiple swimming pools, a lazy river, and a water park. Family-friendly features like a jumping pillow, laser tag, bike rentals, and more make this campground a favorite for families of all sizes. Choose from cozy cabins, RV sites, or tent sites for your next epic family vacation.

Find a welcome change of pace and endless recreation and relaxation opportunities on these day trips from San Francisco. Regardless of your itinerary, the beauty and bounty of Northern California makes the ideal backdrop for lifelong memories.

Libby Thompson is a freelance writer living in Denver, Colorado. Having grown up in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, hiking and camping have been cornerstones of her life since childhood. Rain, snow, or shine, you can usually find her outdoors on a paddle board, a hiking trail, or a pair of skis. Libby can be reached via email at

Image credits in order of appearance: Adobe Stock – Martin M303, Adobe Stock – Rich, Delta Marina Yacht Harbor, Adobe Stock – Sundry Photography, Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort, Adobe Stock – Bjorn Bakstad, Casini Ranch Family Campground, Adobe Stock – Nathaniel, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Tower Park