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16 Best Bay Area Day Trips for Seniors

Explore where the best places to go are on a day trip in the Bay Area. Seniorly shares 16 top spot locations to visit.

By Lydia Bruno · Updated Aug 08, 2022
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The San Francisco Bay Area, also known as the Bay Area, is home to over seven million people. This metropolitan area in Northern California is famous for its cable cars, Golden Gate Bridge, and vineyards. This beautiful area is best known for its active lifestyle and high-tech industry (Silicon Valley).

The temperature is generally very mild and is perfect for outdoor activities and road trips such as the ones listed below. The Bay Area is host to five professional sports teams, as well as the arts, theater, and a cultural center for music. It’s also known for its prestigious higher education institutions including Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

16 Bay Area Day Trips

The Bay area includes portions of nine counties: Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara. Each one is unique in its own way and home to a variety of day trips for seniors. Here is a list of 16 places to visit during the day with seniors in the Bay Area:

  • Wine tasting in Sonoma
  • Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve
  • The California Cheese Trail
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Helen Putnam Regional Park
  • Spas and wellness centers
  • Whale watching
  • Bodega Bay fishing
  • Alcatraz Island
  • Stinson Beach
  • Chinatown
  • ​Big Sur
  • Mendocino Botanical Gardens
  • ​Muir Woods
  • ​Napa Valley
  • ​Sausalito

Sonoma Valley Wine Tasting

Sonoma County is part of San Francisco’s Bay Area. It is just about an hour drive from the Golden Gate Bridge. You can explore its 60,000 acres of vineyards and 425 award-winning wineries, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Kendall-Jackson, Korbel, Ledson, Rodney Strong, Gloria Ferrer, and many other Sonoma County wines.

Whether you tour for a day or spend the night and make it a weekend in wine country, Sonoma wineries will not disappoint. The legendary wineries are delicious and offer rustic hospitality. 

Plan your trip with a free Wine Map and Visitors Guide. For sightseeing tours, guided tours, walking tours, and winery tours by bus, van, or limousine, browse the sightseeing and tours listings.

Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve was donated to the people of California in 1933 by Edward P. Kruse. Kruse donated it as a living memorial to his father, a founder of San Francisco’s German Bank. The land itself was established in 1880 and used to raise sheep, logging, and tanbark harvesting by the Kruse family. 

This natural reserve has more than two miles of hiking trails that lead through the rhododendrons. The rhododendrons are beautiful flowers that burst into bloom in May. Their pink blossoms cover the hiking trails and are surrounded by redwood, Douglas fir, grand firs, and tanoak trees.While the flat trails are unpaved in some areas, there are also areas that can be driven by car to see the rhododendrons in bloom. 

The California Cheese Trail

If you love cheese and call yourself a cheese foodie, then you will love the California Cheese Trail. During your excursion, you can meet cheesemakers, take a farm tour, and discover all varieties of cheeses available. The California Cheese Trail is located in Sonoma County and winds through about 100 miles of canyons, pastures, and oak-covered hills, linking close to 30 farms and creameries.

Each property you visit will be different. You can reserve full tours, go on cheese tasting tours, and even find some cheese-making classes. While you are there you can visit with the farm’s goats, cows, sheep, or even water buffalo. 

The trail itself is spread out over several remote areas. Make sure to have a good plan before you start exploring.

Helen Putnam Regional Park (for dog walking)

Helen Putnam Regional Park is located near downtown Petaluma, California with panoramic views of the city and the southern Sonoma County countryside. Known for its nine trails in the 216-acre park area, this can be a great day trip to explore nature. The paths are short but can be combined to make one long path offering the beautiful scenery of steep hills of cattle nearby and clusters of oak. 

Whether you are a beginning hiker or an experienced runner, the park offers various difficulty levels in their paths for your convenience. With playgrounds and picnic areas there are plenty of places to rest after your hike. Don’t forget to bring your dogs along these hiking trails. Trails are also open to cyclists and horseback riders.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National park is an area of 759,620 acres that sits in four counties - Tuolumne, Mariposa, Mono, and Madera County. This national park located in California is recognized for its waterfalls, clear streams, granite cliffs, giant sequoia groves, meadows, mountains, lakes, and glaciers. 

Tours by trolley are available for those who do not prefer to hike. This area is recognized for its fishing, birdwatching, horseback riding, and rock climbing, which Yosemite is world-famous for.  

Spas and wellness centers

Take a break from stress and the hustle of everyday life with leisure travel. Take some time for your well-being in one of over 40 spas and wellness centers in Sonoma County. It is always a great time to restore your mind, body, and spirit. There is everything from luxury spa resorts with beautiful vineyard views to relaxing day spas with capacious pools. 

Whether you want to improve something physically, mentally, or emotionally about yourself — take time for a well-being getaway and pamper yourself in calm and luxury.

Whale watching day trip

Bodega Head is one of the top whale-watching destinations in California. It is about four miles long and one mile wide and goes right into the ocean. The way it is placed helps Bodega Bay with shelter. It also attracts a lot of tourists wanting to get a closer look at the whales swimming by.

Bodega Head is part of the 17 mile-long Sonoma Coast State Park. The park offers great views, hiking trails, and beaches. A perfect place to have a day trip to watch the whales and relax on the sand for a picnic. 

During the winter months, the whales migrate north-to-south along the coast. This day trip would be a perfect time to grab binoculars and look for whales spouting their blowholes and swimming along, or just hanging out.  

Bodega Bay fishing day trip

While you are at Bodega Bay why not enjoy a day of sightseeing and fishing. All year round you can visit and enjoy the monthly catch. Fish On is a one-stop-shop for fishing, crabbing, and charter boat needs. 

If a charter boat is not what you are looking for then shore and surf fishing is also a great option. The local beaches and docks giveaway to a perfect day of fishing.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is one of the most infamous places in the United States. Located in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it is one of California's most well-known attractions in the Bay Area. 

Alcatraz is most famous for its use as a penitentiary from 1934 to 1963. The prison was built in part to the high crime rate during the prohibition era. A group of Native American tribes occupied the island from 1969 to 1971 and laid claim to the island. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the prison or attend free educational programs that are offered.

 

Stinson Beach day trip

Stinson Beach is located 54 minutes from San Francisco alongside Mt. Tamalpais State Park.  It is only a 35 minute trip from the Golden Gate Bridge and is a very popular spot for residents and tourists of the San Francisco Bay Area.  

Stinson Beach sits along the beautiful ocean with miles of wide-open beaches, walking trails, and amazing views. This would be the perfect day trip to not only visit the beach but have lunch at some of the amazing restaurants and shop at the quaint boutiques the area has to offer.

Chinatown 

Chinatown is located in San Francisco with its lively culture and heritage. With so many restaurants and attractions, Chinatown is not only for tourists. The thriving community leads to locals visiting time and time again. Chinatown draws more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Chinatown was established in 1848 and is one of the oldest and largest Chinese enclaves outside of Asia. This enclave has held on to its rich history, culture, customs, languages, and identity. 

Discover Chinatown and its restaurants, churches, temples, and rich culture. Perfect for a day trip in San Francisco. 
 

Big Sur

Looking to drive up the California coast? Big Sur  is a section of rugged mountains between Carmel and San Simeon. Located on Highway 1, this scenic route takes visitors through Monterey County, which is 90 miles long and stretches from Carmel-by-the-sea through the redwoods and waterfront to Hearst Castle. 

Seven million people visit this popular destination with its beautiful views, redwood forests, beaches, and hiking. This drive would be a wonderful idea for weekend getaways.

Mendocino Botanical Gardens

Mendocino Botanical Gardens is a long trip from San Francisco. It is approximately three hours away. Even though it is a bit of a trip it is well worth your time. Located in the town of Mendocino, these exquisite gardens are a true hidden gem in California. 

The Mendocino Botanical Gardens are known for their endless florals and are considered one of the best in the country. 

There is so much to see in a day. They have 160 species of birds in the park along with many miles of trails. There is always something blooming to see in their sculpture garden. Even if for only a day, this is a trip worth taking.

Muir Woods

The Muir Woods National Monument allows you to disconnect from the world and leave your phones behind. Without cell phone reception or internet access, you can take in the 150-year-old redwood trees. 

The forest is often in a layer of fog because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Muir Woods is the first national monument that was created because of a land donation from an individual. William Kent donated the land to protect the future of the 150-year-old redwood trees.

Napa Valley

This premier wine destination, north of San Francisco, is better for more than just a day trip. Known for its amazing wine and food it is made up of nine towns - Calistoga, Angwin, Lake Berryessa, St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, Napa, and American Canyon. 

Wine tasting is the most popular attraction in the Napa Valley region. There are also museums, golf courses, spas and resorts, and many outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, and water sports.

Sausalito Day Trip

Sausalito, located in Marin County, California, can be found along Highway 101 with several miles of shoreline, cafes, and boutiques. The small town can be accessed via a bike ride, a walk, driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, or taking a ferry trip across the harbor. 

Sausalito is full of restaurants, art galleries, and houseboat tours for those looking to get on the waterways.  A perfect place to escape for the day or even a few with so many things to see and explore.



 

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written by:
Lydia Bruno

Lydia Bruno

Copywriter for Seniorly, with 5+ years experience in professional caregiving and senior housing
View other articles written by Lydia

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