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Eight + Plus Amazing One-Tank Trips from San Francisco

From San Francisco, you can take off in any of several directions for an entertaining and exciting one-tank RV trip. Head to Oakland to start out and go for a short tour of Oakland after crossing the Oakland Bridge from San Francisco. 


Then visit Golden Gate Park first for a picnic lunch before you cross the Golden Gate Bridge to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. If you love boats, stop in at Sausalito at the Yacht Harbor. Go see the giant Redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley. Take Hwy 101 from there north to San Rafael. If you want a beautiful coastal view, drive south along California’s famous Coastal Highway- Route 1 and visit Pacifica State Beach and Half Moon Bay. If you want more city, drive east on route 92 to Redwood City. 

If you prefer to stay coastal, proceed south on Hwy 1 to San Gregorio and Santa Cruz. Carmel and Monterey are about five hours south of the Bay. There is so much to see you may want to stop and visit at several places along the way. This is truly California’s Pacific coast at its finest! If you get tired and want to park and overnight, RV campgrounds abound in California, both public and private. 



1) Sausalito – less than 15 minutes from San Francisco


Stop in Sausalito on your way to Muir Woods or Mill Valley. While there, take a visit to the Free Marine Mammal Center, a non-profit educational center and veterinary research hospital that rescues ill and injured marine mammals. such as elephant seals, harbor seals, and California sea lions. Admission is free, though donations are welcomed.

Though you will not be able to get too close to any of these animals, you will learn a lot about the animals and the challenges they face.

Also stroll on the Boardwalk in Sausalito, and see a charming stretch of the city featuring several locally-owned shops and restaurants. This is also a place with great views of the San Francisco city skyline in the distance. Though this area can get busy during the summer, it is well worth a visit.


2) Muir Woods National Monument


The old-growth redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument should definitely be on the top of your list as one of the best places to visit. Be sure to watch the gray whale migration at Klamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park


3) San Rafael – about 20 minutes from San Francisco


You can drive north past Mill Valley to San Rafael in about 20 minutes. This place is very rich in history and its beautiful geography attracts visitors from all over. It's the oldest and biggest town in Marin County and is known for having very nice weather most of the year. It is conveniently located only 20 minutes away from San Francisco. The Marin County Civic Center is a sight to behold for any Frank Lloyd Wright or architecture fan. San Rafael is also known for its beautiful scenery that consists of hills, mountains, coastline, and stunning architecture.


4) Pacific Coast Highway – Route 1: Also Coast Highway?


The Pacific Coast Highway, is technically only about a 130-mile segment of Highway 1 that runs from Dana Point to Oxnard in Southern California. The terms Pacific Coast Highway and Coast Highway are sometimes used to refer to a route from the southern coastal point of California that extends all the way to Canada or even beyond. We refer to it here as the Coast Highway and it literally hugs the California coast for miles and miles giving you the best view of the Pacific you can imagine! If you take the highway from the north, you’ll have the Pacific views on your right-hand side. Luckily, though, if you happen to be driving north you can also pull off in many view spots to catch the best views of the ocean.


When to go? 


October tends to bring the nicest and least rainy weather to the San Francisco Bay area, and September can also be quite nice. Note that even in summer, you might find it cold along the Central and Northern Coast, especially places like Half Moon Bay, San Francisco, and further north.

If you want to keep driving south, you may want to stop and visit some other sights, like Alcatraz and Hearst Castle. If so, it can be wise to book those tickets at least a few days in advance if you know when you’ll arrive. Sometimes, they sell out on certain days, especially during the summer. If you want to attend (or avoid) any festivals, plan ahead so you can be sure to be in the area during the event or to skip it to avoid crowds, traffic jams, and more demand for RV sites.


5) Pacifica State Beach and Half Moon Bay


Two definite places to stop along this gorgeous Coast Highway would be Pacifica State Beach and Half Moon Bay. These are both California State Parks, and worth stopping to visit. Pacifica, managed by the City of Pacifica, is a wide, crescent-shaped beach, located just off Highway 1 in downtown Pacifica. It marks the northern gateway to the coastline stretching south of San Francisco. Linda Mar is another name for Pacifica Beach. This is the most well-loved and well-used beach in Pacifica. Beach and parking lots hours are 5am to 10:30pm during Daylight Savings Time and 5am to 7pm in the fall and winter.


Linda Mar aka Pacifica Beach offers a recreation trail along the ocean, surfing and surf camps, restrooms and showers and is a very popular spot with dogs (dogs must be on leash). Restrooms are open from 6am-10pm.


Half Moon Bay State Beach

This state park features a four-mile-long stretch of wide, sandy beach that has become a favorite destination for beachgoers throughout the Bay Area and visitors from around the world.

Half Moon Bay State Beach is a single state park made up of four separate beaches: Francis Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, and Roosevelt Beach. It's a favorite spot for sunbathing, picnics, surfing, fishing, and camping.


6) Redwood City 


About 25 miles south of San Francisco on Hwy 101, you’ll find Redwood City in San Mateo County. Many parks, businesses and scenic places call visitors to this popular area of Silicon Valley. Stroll the City Square as you walk down Broadway Street, which is where the city hosts many public events, including Oktoberfest, Music on the Square, art shows, dancing and more. Be sure to pop into the San Mateo County History Museum and learn about the history of San Mateo County and the Peninsula. 

With 467 acres of woodlands and grasslands, Edgewood Park & Natural Preserve is a great place to hike in Redwood City. When you get to the top of the preserve, you will have views of the entire Bay Area.


7) National Parks / National Historic Sites near San Francisco


One of California’s favorite national monuments is Devils Postpile, a geological formation you won’t want to miss.  The formation is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world's finest examples of columnar basalt. Its' columns tower up to 60 feet and display a striking symmetry. 

If waterfalls excite you, then Yosemite National Park is where you need to be. If you love photography, capture the phenomenon at Horsetail Falls which is quite miraculous. The famous federal penitentiary of Alcatraz Island was also the first lighthouse and US Fort on the west coast and has such a historic story you will want to learn about it. Enjoy the island’s gardens and bird colonies while you are there. 


8) Other Attractions / Amusement and Theme Parks Near San Francisco

Take your family and explore the ocean life at either Monterey Bay Aquarium or the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. For animals and birds of Africa the Santa Rosa – Safari West Zoo is spectacular and the San Francisco Zoo is home to over 250 species of animals. Traveling to many of these locations is much easier with the whole family or group of friends all together in an RV. 


Everyone loves trains and many visitors are thrilled with the Train Town Railroad at Sonoma, CA. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it will be fun. For more thrills, water slides, excitement and fun then Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA, California’s Great America in Santa Clara and The Boardwalk in Santa Cruz should be your next stop.


Whatever part of California you visit, be sure to check in with your local El Monte RV Dealer for a great RV Rental deal!


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