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places to visit Near SF

Mahopac, New York
Level Contributor
77 posts
13 reviews
places to visit Near SF

My husband and I are going to be in SF in January, staying in Palo Alto for about 4 days to a week. We will go into the city for 2-3 days. I would like to visit some scenic areas near by within an hour or so drive. Where would you recommend? I have been to SF a couple of times but never to the countryside around it. We are an older couple and we like scenic, off the beaten track, non touristy places. We like to walk but cant do strenuous hikes. Thanks.

San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
21,575 posts
79 reviews
1. Re: places to visit Near SF

>> I would like to visit some scenic areas near by within an hour or so drive. <<

Sorry, I'm not clear, are you looking for scenic areas within an hour of SF or Palo Alto? (They're about an hour apart, so the answers may well be different depending on where you're staying.)

Within an hour of Palo Alto: Half Moon Bay, the Santa Cruz Mountains (Boulder Creek, Big Basin, Henry Cowell Redwood Park), Santa Cruz.

Within an hour of SF (although further from Palo Alto): Sausalito, Muir Woods, even Sonoma. Although these aren't really "off the beaten track". Places that are less visited by tourists would include Mount Diablo, Muir Beach, Angel Island.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
3,325 posts
65 reviews
2. Re: places to visit Near SF

Half Moon Bay (downtown or Devil's Slide paved coastal trail), Capitola, Sawyer Camp Trail (paved along reservoir in San Mateo off Hwy 280), The Dish at Stanford (though it can be hilly, just take it slow on paved loop), there is also a paved walking trail along the bay from the SFO airport hotels down past the San Mateo Bridge/Hwy 92 (this also takes you through Coyote Point and the Ryder Park area). My 2 cents on spots between Palo Alto and SF.

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
33,555 posts
6 reviews
3. Re: places to visit Near SF

Well, here is a Traveler Article on Santa Cruz. While not exactly "off the beaten track" it is a pleasant place to visit and probably has some suggestions which are not usually on the "tourist track".

http://tinyurl.com/cy7nl3c

The Monarch butterflies at Natural Bridges State Beach should still be here. A walk on West Cliff Drive from the Municipal Wharf area is a favorite of ours. It takes you past Steamer Lane where you can watch surfers, all the way to Natural Bridges.....a lovely, flat walk along the water. I am "elderly" and love it.

To get here, get on Hwy 280 to Hwy 85 to Hwy 17....cross the coast range and you will soon be in Santa Cruz. About an hour.

Bellingham...
Level Contributor
4,233 posts
1 review
4. Re: places to visit Near SF

HI Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel. Definitely had the off the beaten track vibe. And Devil's slide trail was really cool although it may be too strenuous for you (it's paved but I turned around about half way up as I was exhausted that day).

Edited: 23 November 2015, 22:37
Mahopac, New York
Level Contributor
77 posts
13 reviews
5. Re: places to visit Near SF

Thanks so much for your suggestions!

Henderson, Nevada
Level Contributor
1,467 posts
41 reviews
6. Re: places to visit Near SF

You could spend a day and do "coast side" loop.... driving north on I-280 to pick up Hwy 1 in Pacifica, then work you way south to Santa Cruz, then back to Palo Alto... It would get you the Pacific coast, you could walk downtown Half Moon Bay, stop and see the elephant seals at Ano Neuvo, or butterflies in Santa Cruz.

Randy

San Francisco
Level Contributor
224 posts
7. Re: places to visit Near SF

The Marin Headlands just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco are gorgeous. You could visit Black Sand Beach, the Point Bonita Lighthouse (depending on the day of the week; check website), Rodeo Beach etc. I ride my bike there all the time and never tire of it. There are also beautiful hikes on Mt. Tam or the Coastal Trail in Marin, but these would be more strenuous.

Further South, I like Ano Nuevo State Park. You should make a reservation well in advance for a guided walk to see the elephant seals. They are truly amazing animals, and the scenery is beautiful, too. On the way back to Palo Alto, stop in San Gregorio for artichoke bread and ollaliberry pie.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
3,325 posts
65 reviews
8. Re: places to visit Near SF

A note on Ano Nueva, which I do love -- the walk through the sand to view the elephant seals can be strenuous. The docents are incredibly knowledgeable and friendly.

San Francisco
Level Contributor
224 posts
9. Re: places to visit Near SF

I guess it depends on your definition of strenuous. My recollection is that it is only a mile or a mile and a half each way, sometimes over sand, but with no elevation gain. So, maybe a strenuous walk for some, but I wouldn't consider it a strenuous hike. There were elementary age kids on my tour.

Mahopac, New York
Level Contributor
77 posts
13 reviews
10. Re: places to visit Near SF

Great suggestions. We can hike up to 2 hours max,as long as it is not too steep. My knees bother me if it is steep or a very uneven terrain.