Here is an excellent list of road trip ideas within a four-hour drive of San Francisco. You will need to get an early start if you are planning a day trip. Consider staying at least one night to fully explore these destinations.
Travel time 2 hours 77 miles. Whether you wish to visit the park for a day or spend a weekend or week camping there, New Brighton Beach State Park is a rewarding destination less than a two-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Travel Time 2 hours 90 miles. For those that are interested in California history, a visit to the Sacramento is a perfect destination. Check out old town Sacramento, take a free tour of the State Capitol, or take a relaxing cruise along the Sacramentoarmento River.
Safari West Wildlife Tours
Travel Time 2.5 hours 76 miles. Safari West African Wildlife Tours guests can take a three-hour tour led by an experienced guide. You climb aboard a Safari truck and head out onto the bumpy roads of the preserve. This trip lets you take an African safari without the danger of being charged by wild animals.
Travel Time 2.5 hours 90 miles. Although open year-round, the Apple Hill Growers Association, located in Camino, Placerville, and Pollock Pines California, is best visited in early October or November. Apple picking is at its best, and the changing colors of the fall leaves make the entire experience even more memorable.
Travel Time 2.5 hours 100 miles. Along with the San Juan Bautista Mission. There are four leading historical museums in the park: Plaza Hotel, Zannetta House, The Plaza Stables, and the Castro-Breen Adobe. Additionally, you can see the historic jail, a blacksmith shop, and an early American settler’s cabin.
Travel time 2.5 hours 100 miles. There are plenty of picturesque spots perfect for picnic lunches; the most popular may be Fisk Mill Cove. There are easy-access paved parking, picnic tables, barbecues, drinking water, and bathrooms on site. Beautiful Bishop Pines provide shade in the summer and a measure of shelter from the strong winds that sometimes blow through Salt Point.
Travel time 3 hours, 107 miles. Fort Ross State Historic Park must have been a bustling place. In the mid-1880s. Today, however, it’s quite sublime, but just as beautiful, as the fort itself is a quite interesting and well kept timeless reminder of early Russian immigration into the United States.
Travel time 2.5 hours 120 miles. Heralded as one of the top tourist destinations in the state, Monterey Bay is a well-polished gem along with one of the most unspoiled sections of California Coastline. It offers visitors a feeling unique from California’s larger northern cities.
Travel time 2.5 hours 122 miles. Carmel boasts mild weather all year round, making it the perfect destination any time of the year. Since it is nestled on the water, make sure to bring a jacket as this Monterey County town has a cool breeze off of the ocean.
Travel time 3 hours, 124 miles. Pinnacles National Park is the nation’s newest national park and most often visited during spring and fall because of the abundance of wildflowers and the intense heat during the summer months.
Travel time 3.5 hours 145 miles. Located at the end of a small peninsula is the lovely Point Arena lighthouse. For over 100 years, the tower has protected sailors from the rough shoreline and rocky outcroppings along this part of the Pacific Coast.
Travel time 3.5 hours 152 miles. Bryan Preserve, located at Point Arena in Southern Mendocino County, is a wildlife preserve with two kinds of zebra species and several species of antelope. If you are looking to make a weekend trip out of it, the Preserve has two guest cottages and a fully-furnished carriage house on site.
Travel time 3.5 Hours 174 miles. Fort Hunter Liggett is located about 25 miles southwest of King City, CA. Surrounded by national forests, mountains, and valleys, Salinas to the north and San Luis Obispo County to the south. This San Francisco road trip destination can be accessed from Highway 101 in King City or Highway 1 from the south.
Travel time 3.5 Hours 220 miles. When one thinks of Reno, Nevada, the first thing that usually comes to mind is gambling. And while that is a big part of Reno’s overall appeal, visitors could be missing out. From historical spots to water sports to mountain trails and performing arts, there are tons of things to see and do in and around Reno.
Time 4 Hours 220 miles. Humboldt Redwoods State Park features the most towering redwood trees along the Avenue of the Giants. Including the world’s ten tallest trees, along with the fallen Dyerville Giant, and one of the last remaining drive-thru redwood trees — the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree.