We love vacationing in San Francisco and its environs, but sometimes even families lucky enough to live there have to get away for a weekend.
California is such a large and varied state that families planning a weekend from San Francisco, traveling by car, usually stay within state lines. With so many cultural institutions, outdoor adventures, snowsports resorts, mountain lakes and national parks nearby, it’s no wonder that northern California families can take short breaks so close to home.
Among the many options for a last-minute holiday, cheap vacation package, fun short break, or road trip detour, we found several weekend getaways from the everyday routine within a 200-mile radius of San Francisco, and some even closer than that.
The following weekend getaway roundup includes some of our family’s favorite kids’ destinations. There are, of course, many other choices for spending your time and money on a short break, so we’ll just highlight some of the top local attractions, kid-friendly festivals and events that suit all ages. We welcome you to blog about your own favorite west coast weekend getaways or add your thoughts to the comments section.
Weekend Getaways in the Countryside Outside San Francisco
California Apple Farms
Learn all about the great apple picking farms and pick your own pumpkin patches within driving distance of San Francisco.
Striking Gold in the Sierra Nevada Foothills
As Gold Country and California’s original Frontier, families visiting Sonora can experience the historical sites and natural beauty of Tuolumne County.
Charlie Brown Weekend in Santa Rosa
A fan of the legendary “Peanuts” comic strip recounts an ideal weekend with little ones — a pilgrimage to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.
Cozying Up at the Asilomar Conference Center
The vintage Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove is a winner of FTF’s Top 10 Cheap Getaways For Family Travelers award.
California Wine Country Family Attractions
When planning weekend getaways in Napa or Sonoma Valley, you’ll want to have kid-pleasing diversions on hand to barter for some quiet adult time on winery tours.
Kid-Friendly Wineries and More at Napa Valley
If you’re dying to go visit a famous California winery, be sure to check out these stops that are also serving up special activities just for the kids to enjoy.
Where in the World is San Mateo County?
Instead of heading north from San Francisco, go south to the agricultural region between SanFran and San Jose for some great surprises and family fun.
Monterey & Carmel: North Coast California Getaway
With kids and grandparents in the mix, the quiet pleasures of Carmel and Monterey (hiking, shopping, dining) merge into a perfect multi-generational weekend vacation.
California Roads Less Traveled
If your family has already ventured up and down Route 1, there is much more to explore in the Golden State’s endless shoreline and sweeping landscapes.
Northern California Recreation & Outdoors Destinations for Weekend Getaways
Yosemite National Park for a Summer Vacation
Yosemite is one of northern California’s greatest attractions, whether you’re there for a weekend or passing through on a Western family road trip.
Point Reyes National Seashore
Families love this pristine coast where gentle hikes lead past herds of elk and wild blackberry bushes. And when the day is done, there’s great wining and dining on hand.
Lake Tahoe: A Directory of Winter Fun
A detailed look at the Nevada -California Lake Tahoe mountain region proves you can plan a variety of short breaks to one of the country’s top snowsports resorts.
California’s Streets & Chutes
After a few days in San Francisco, check out how far and fast the family can go on nearby slopes in the Lake Tahoe region.
Active California Wine Country Adventures
Beyond wining and dining, California Wine Country also offers up plenty of outdoor activities for adventurous travelers to take on
Urban Short Breaks from San Francisco
Sacramento With Little Ones
Memories of fun-filled childhood weekend getaways are made at the Claifornia State Railroad Museum, the largest collection of real and toy trains in the country.
Santa Cruz from Bluffs to Redwoods
You can plan a coastal journey south of San Francisco and enjoy the “SC” Boardwalk amusement park, a great surfing beach, redwood forests and even apple picking orchards in fall.
Reno, Nevada with Teens
Check out why Reno-Tahoe is known as “America’s Adventure Place” by skipping the casinos and exploring the city’s myriad family-friendly outdoor activities.
San Jose, The Family Side of Silicon Valley
Visit the high-tech corridor around San Jose and sample some high tech kids’ activities that boost children’s self-exploration and instinct for discovery.
Solvang for a Danish Themed Kids Weekend Away
For an eccentric and fun break, follow this family tips on hotels and activities in the cute and touristy Danish-American community of Solvang.
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