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Thursday, 11 April 2013

Day tripping in San Francisco: Ginormous trees & Incredible views

If you have already checked Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Warf and the Golden Gate Bridge off your list it is time to make a few road trips outside of San Francisco.  All of these places make for perfect day or half day trips. 

Day 1: Muir Woods via Marin Headlands:

It is time to hop in your car and start the journey north. Get your camera ready and make sure you have some snacks. It is going to be a busy day. Now it is time cross the architecture juggernaut, the Golden Gate Bridge. If you have time you can walk to the massive bridge, but it is a LONG walk, I would recommend biking if you really want something else besides driving. Shortly after you cross it is time to make a right onto Conzelman Road to get to this amazing viewpoint below and begin the journey onto the Marin highlands. Follow this one way street for amazing views, secluded beaches and a rundown military base. You will literally want to stop every few minutes because around every sharp turn lies a view that tops the last. Depending on how long you stop I would put aside 2-3 hours to really enjoy it. (Unless you want to spend all day at a secluded beach) After cruising the 1 way streets it is time to head off to a park full of those massive red woods.

Muir woods “national monument” is pretty close from the Headlands and for sure worth the trip. You can spend a full day doing 5+ mile hikes and what not, but we were just here to wander around and looking at the ginormous trees. A few things bugged me about this place. First it was $7 to look at trees in a park? Yeah, I thought the woods would be free too. Either way it is definitely money well spent. Another thing that was annoying was how many signs they had about not touching the trees and rules posted everywhere. I felt like I was back in elementary school with all the restrictions. Don’t let these minor complaints turn you off, the place is incredible. Take a stroll and be at ease in the wilderness.

Day 2: Big Sur and Bixby Bridge

The trip up to big sur was great and really not too far of a drive. We didn't have much planned, but make sure you do before you go. Cell service is pretty non-existent once you reach a certain point. Unfortunately, we were not able to find the famous waterfall. Cruising up the highway 1 was on par with some of Europe's famous drives like the Amalfi coast in Italy or The Dalmatian coast in Croatia. Steep skinny roads with beautiful coastal views and crystal clear water. The waterfall is shortly past bixby bridge and apparently only a 5 minute walk from the highway. Either way Big Sur was such a relaxing drive with breathtaking views.

Day 3: Half Moon Bay

It’s time to hope in you car again and back onto the majestic highway one. We did Half Moon Bay in a half day, but it really just depends on personal preference.  We really had no plan and just started following the GPS to Half Moon Bay. The sun was shining and we didn't have a worry on our shoulders. My friend and I decided to sort of wing it and the day turned out great.  Our fist stop was the Ritz Carlton. Here were some great public beaches and a very scenic golf course. The public beach is very secluded and there weren't really many people around. After chilling at the Ritz we decided to grab some beer and sea food. We ended up going to a Brewery/restaurant right by the Ocean. Coincidentally named the Half Moon Bay Brewery. We ordered a beer sampler and got the sea food sampler as well. The food and beer were delicious and the atmosphere was very nice since you are seated so close to the sea.   

San Francisco is such a great city. You can be out enjoying the beach one day and then drive two hours to be shredding the slopes at Lake Tahoe. San Francisco is by far my favorite US travel destination and I hope to live there some  day.