When you mention “the Bay Area” most people instinctively think of San Francisco, but truth be told, there is significantly more to the region than the City by the Bay. Today, we’re bringing you a scattered selection of stops for day trips and extended visits throughout the greater Bay Area.
A great way to start exploring is to get a true overview of the entire Bay Area, and Grizzly Peak, nestled in NE Berkeley between Miller and Sterling Avenues, is one of the best low-effort spots to do just that. It’s a great hike if you’re of an active disposition, but you can also easily drive to a vista point and soak in the sunset (though there’s no real parking available).
While it might not sound like a typical tourist destination, the lush campus of Stanford has much to offer visitors, as does the surrounding city of Palo Alto. Take a self-or student-guided campus tour. You can admire the architecture, visit Tressider Student Union, admire the Rodin Sculpture Garden, or even take in a game at Stanford Football Stadium if the timing is right. When you’re ready for a rest, fall back to one of the city’s tech-ready hotels, such as Nest Palo Alto, for a relaxing evening.
The Winchester Mystery House
Juxtaposed to Grizzly Peak, the Winchester Mystery House is a true Bay Area tourist attraction, gift shop and all. The house, built by rifle brand heiress Sarah Winchester, is a maze of doors to nowhere, nonsensical hallways and 160 rooms. The paranormal, architectural and historic elements of the home draw crowds of all backgrounds annually--and with a feature film coming out in Feb 2018, those crowds are sure to increase in size.
Bike the Bridge
If you’re aiming to stay active during your break in the Bay Area, rent a bicycle from Fisherman’s Wharf and head across the Golden Gate into Sausalito for an afternoon. Bask in the unique small town atmosphere adjacent to the big city, check out the kitschy houseboats and enjoy a bite and drink (and even a game of bocce) at one of the easy-to-reach establishments. The ride takes between two and three hours depending on your fitness level--and you can always take a boat back from Ferry Pier in Sausalito if you’re too pooped to keep pedaling.
Surf Stinson Beach
It’s difficult to be in the Bay Area and not want to hit the beaches, but often visitors aren’t sure where to go to find them. Stinson Beach is a great sandy beach offering everything from picnic spaces and camping areas to mixed-ability hiking trails. And if your timing is right, you can catch a wave on one of Northern California’s prime pieces of coastline.
Walk the Bulb
Part living history museum, part interactive exhibit, the Albany Bulb is a truly unique piece of the San Francisco Bay. The site is a former landfill peppered with art created by various local groups and webbed with hiking trails. There are excellent tide pools if you follow the trails that go toward the water. However, the area isn’t well patrolled or supported by any real infrastructure, so it’s best to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
Whether you’re wandering far or sticking closer to home, enjoying a little down time in the Bay Area can be a great way to kick off or wind down your summer traveling season.