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San Francisco is probably my favourite city in the US, it’s got an awesome climate, some great sites, a cracking nightlife and a very multicultured population. But if you’re feeling the need to dust those cobwebs off your backpack and break your San Fran comfort zone, here’s 5 easy places to start, all of which are less than 2 hours drive The Bay:

napa valley
Napa Valley

 

1)   Napa Valley:

Still in the Bay Area, still an awesome climate but with much, much more wine (over 200 wineries!). They’ve got hot springs, mud baths, cycle tours, hiking tours, nice hotels and if that’s not enough you can always get drunk on amazing booze.

 

2)   Santa Cruz:

Chilled out surfer town just north of Monetery bay. Santa Cruz is home to huge misty forest, redwood trees, laid back cafes and awesome surf. It can be done as a day trip with no worries, but don’t plan on going back too soon, this place is addictive! Hit the Santa Cruz boardwalk and mix with the cool kids.

 

3)   Sacramento:

The capital of California, Sacramento is always high on the list of places to visit in the state. The Old Sacramento, waterfront is a real blast from the past, an Old Western-style district that’s really alive on evenings and weekends. There’s also great rafting (my favourite pastime) in the area too.

 

4)   Yosemite National Park:

This one might be stretching the ‘2 hours driving’ rule but it’s worth it, just find a good car rental place. You may spend around 8 hours on the road there and back but the UNESCO world heritage site is world famous for it’s granite cliffs, waterfalls, streams and all around amazing scenery, if you’re in the San Fran area, you must, must, must check this out!

 

5) Monterey:

A gorgeous coastal city, Monterey is home to one of the best aquariums in the US – the Monterey Bay Aquarium ($30 ticket though, ouch!) and you can waltz down to the wharf to see the sea lions lounging about all day, if you’re lucky you’ll spot some sea otters too. There’s also good scuba and cool whale watching tours departing from fisherman’s wharf.

5 great ways to escape San Fran, and you don’t even have to leave for too long! Happy travels!

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