Enjoy A Quickie... Weekend Getaway Outside of SF
Whether you're looking to take advantage of a three-day weekend or planning a vacation on a budget, we've compiled some sweet getaways that are no further than three hours from The City. In case you're feeling like you'd rather take a nap-a than go on another trip to Napa, we chose ideas from lesser-known corners of the area. So, compile a new playlist and grab a bag of kale chips (ok, Flaming Hot Cheetos, who are we kidding?), we're going on a road trip!
Estimated Cost: All budget types.
Best Days: Long weekends or anytime you want to play hooky or have legit PTO to burn.
Vibe: Get back to nature, make it boozy, or enjoy kitchy oddities.
Here's your getaway cheat sheet...
1. Tour the Winchester Mystery Mansion + Haunted Hotel + The Mystery place in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Spooky fun can be had with a quick drive south to San Jose.
For your first stop, visit The Winchester Mystery House. Tour 110 out of their 160 rooms and learn the history as to why Sarah, the legendarily odd proprietor, had to keep building on the house continuously her whole life.
Check in, or simply visit the Westin San Jose—more familiarly known as the old Sainte Claire hotel—which is rumored to be haunted by a bride who was left at the altar and offed herself because of her very public heartbreak.
After you shake off the heebie-jeebies from your ghost busting, head to The Mystery Spot, a visual illusion–based tourist attraction in Santa Cruz. Here, visitors perceive occurrences that appear to defy gravity, and can explore the grounds which includes a mind-bending steep uphill walk and an illusion-filled place to explore inside a wooden building on the site. When you visit, it will seem like the laws of gravity and physics are meaningless.
Things to now about these strange spots:
- Flashlight tours available on Fridays at the Winchester Mystery House for spooky fun.
- At the old Saint Claire Hotel, keep your ears open as the bride's ghostly high heels are said to be heard angrily clip-clopping down the floors. EEPS!
- The Mystery Spot often sells out at about noon, so it's advised you purchase tix in advance.
Pics via Yelp.
2. Take a Tour at Safari West
Channel your inner Wild Thornberry and head out to Safari West. They offer classic safari tours daily where you can see hundreds of animals from the African Serengeti in a double-decker Jeep that will get you eye-to -ye with giraffes.
Stay the night in one of their luxury tents which includes a private deck, fully functional bathroom (glamping to the max!), and get spa services or have wine delivered to your room.
Things to know about Safari West…
- There are no people-eating animals on premises (lions, tigers, bears, oh my!).
- Pets are not allowed.
- Tours can book up quickly, so it's best if you buy tix in advance
Pics via Yelp.
3. Go Glamping in Occidental + Lazy River in Guerneville
Secure a dog friendly yurt like this one that offers cozy, boho-chic accommodations in the forest. You can hike during the day, or skip all that pesky exercise and simply turn off your phone to relax in nature.
Guerneville is a short 20-minute drive away, and you can rent an inner-tube for a lazy day on the Russian River. Make sure you tie your tubes together for this wet adventure; you don't want to drift away from each other in the current.
Things to know about this trip...
- No need to leave fluffy at home, the yurt is pup friendly. Woof!
- The Russian River is slow moving, so don't expect any rapids or rough water. Though, if you can't swim, please still wear a life vest, just in case.
- It can get really hot, so hats are advised, as is sunscreen and frosty, cold beers.
Pics via Yelp.
4. Live in Zin with a Wine Tasting in Lodi
Check out the other wine country, just to the east of SF. Lodi Wine Country has 85+ wineries. While Zinfandel is the king of varietals in this area, Lodi also creates great cabernet sauvignons, merlots, chardonnays, and more. You'll just have to try them all to crown the winner for your palate.
For a romantic escape, check out Wine & Roses (I mean, romance is baked in to the name, so you are know you are off to a good start). Plus, with lush gardens you can explore, cooking classes to help you channel your inner Julia Child, and a spa that will make you say "What hangover?" it's a great romantic place to escape.
Things to know about Lodi:
Pics via Yelp.
5. Enjoy a Charming Inn & Brews in Half Moon Bay
There once was a man from Nantucket...
...And he and his husband renovated a Victorian home from the late 1800s to transform it in to the nautical themed Nantucket Whale Inn. (Ok, so it doesn't rhyme but it doesn't have to—it's pretty). This is where you can go to get your east-coast fix here in California. The Inn is adjacent to sandy beaches, Instagrammable lighthouses, and, of course, near some of the best seafood in the bay.
During the day, head on over to Half Moon Bay Distillery to learn about their premium handcrafted spirits from the pros themselves. The husband-and-wife team that own Half Moon Bay Distillery will walk you through the fascinating process of making craft spirits you can take home. The 45 minute tour includes tastings of their small-batch liqueurs. Bottoms up!
Things to know about Half Moon Bay...
- Beg David to make you his crisp, light-as-air waffles each morning at the Nantucket Whale Inn.
- You can make a tasting tour reservation for the Half Moon Bay Distillery on their website.
- Downtown HMB has lots of art galleries and classes/workshops you can sign up for for a creative outlet.