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Day Trips from San Rafael

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Day Trips from San Rafael

Beautiful San Rafael, set in the lovely North Bay region of California’s San Francisco Bay Area, is a vibrant city with all the attractions of an urban center, set in scenic surroundings. You can enjoy fine dining at gourmet restaurants, shopping, a night out at the great night clubs, arts and culture festivals, museums, and much more. San Rafael is within easy reach for short day trips to the many cities near it, each with a unique and delightful flavor of its own. San Francisco, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Oakland, Berkeley, San Ramon, and Livermore are some that are nearest, and just a little way further is Livermore and Napa.

The distances by road are short – a mere 20 minutes across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco, and even shorter car rides to most other places in the East and North Bay.

There are several National and State Parks which offer fun outdoor activities nearby – the Golden Gate National Recreational Area (GGNRA), Muir Woods National Monument, Mount Tamalpais, China Camp, and Angel Island are some of them. If a trip to the sea side is what you plan, Stinson Beach and Muir Bank are within the GGNRA.

You are sure to love a day in San Francisco. If the day is clear and sunny, you will get an inspiring view of the city’s seascape – the rolling Pacific and the Marin Headlands. Take a bracing walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and then head for the equally famous Fisherman’s Wharf for its wonderfully fresh seafood – ask for the creamy clam chowder in a bread bowl –and enjoy the unique street performers there. Look out for the remarkable Metallic Men, and the Tree Man who hides behind a bush and jumps out to give you (or even better, other passersby) a fright!

San Francisco’s  famous ‘Painted Ladies’ – a row of colorful Victorian houses on Alamo Square, and the twisting Lombard Street, claimed to be the world’s most crooked street, should not be missed. Sutro Tower, rising above the city from a hill between the Twin Peaks, is an interesting sight. If you want to immerse yourself in the exotic sights and flavors of the East Asia, Chinatown and Japantown have some of the best cuisine and shopping to offer. For fine dining and gourmet restaurants, head to North Beach or the Financial District downtown.

Mill Valley, a beautiful city with the appealing ambience of a small European town and the facilities of a sophisticated urban center, is just 15 minutes from San Rafael. Nestled at the foot of the majestic Mount Tamalpais, with wooded country surrounding it, the town is a great place for fine dining, shopping, and recreational activities.

If you want to engage in marine recreational activities, go to Sausalito. Its rich nautical heritage imbues all the attractions of this delightful town. You can take a boat out to the bay to enjoy the sea or go fish. Touring the marinas, kayaking, and sailing are fun things to do. SF Bay Whale Watch takes you close to a pod of whales for a unique chance to take videos and photos of these marvelous creatures. Your kids will enjoy a trip to the Bay Model, an education center run by the administration of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bay Discovery Museum, both of which have interactive marine activities.

Oakland and Berkeley are urban centers of diversity and culture, reflected in the boutiques, dining, shopping, and theater of these cities. Other places you will enjoy are Oakland Museum, Chabot Space and Science Center, and Jack London Square. Oakland Zoo is one of the best in the region, with more than 660 species of native and exotic animals. Small children will love Fairyland, a theme park designed for them.

If you like the outdoors, San Ramon, with several natural preserves and parks around it, in beautiful Contra Costa County, is the place to visit.

To see where cutting-edge technology is born, travel to Silicon Valley’s Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, and visit the historical buildings and museums for a history of the place. The interactive areas in the museums are a big hit with children. Santana Row, the epitome of stylish city life, boasts trendy restaurants, and boutiques. For more excitement take a thrilling roller coaster ride at California’s Great America.

Livermore, in the heart of California’s oldest wine-growing region, is the place to go to if you are a wine lover, with 45 wineries in the surrounding countryside. This charming town has preserved its Western ambience and connection to its roots in ranching and agriculture. Its annual rodeo is a big draw for competitions, shows, and riding activities. You can also go shopping, visit the boutiques and dine at excellent restaurants in the re-energized downtown. There is a thriving arts scene, with several festivals through the year. A weekly Farmers’ Market sells local artisan crafted gourmet foods and locally grown produce.


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