San Francisco Day Trip

San Francisco Day Trip

Discover the day-tripper in you.

Did you know there are thousands of free views in the city of San Francisco, and driving a car isn’t the best way to take advantage of the region’s stunning natural beauty? Discover the day-tripper in you, and follow us from Sonoma County to San Francisco.

Bernal Heights. Photo by Courtney Paige

With Sonoma County’s SMART train on the brink of passenger service, a day trip to the city without getting in your car will soon be a reality. Granted this day trip has multiple legs but isn’t life all about the journey? And who doesn’t like a good set of legs?

Curious to see if a roundtrip venture from Sonoma County to San Francisco could be accomplished in one day without getting in a car, I felt compelled to try. One snag though, the train’s passenger service has been delayed until summer. So, I enlisted an adventurous travel companion and simply drove to the ferry determined not to let logistics get in the way.

The Larkspur Ferry is a time capsule. Ferry to fun. Photo by Courtney Paige

Weekend parking is free at the Larkspur Ferry, so we convinced ourselves that perk will make up for the lack of train service. Another benefit Larkspur Ferry offers is the Clipper card – big savings! After jetting across the bay in a quick 35-minute boat ride, we fawn over majestic Coit Tower as the ferry floats into port.

Coit Tower view while docking at Embarcadero’s Ferry Building. Photo by Courtney Paige

Moments later, we disembarked at San Francisco’s famous Embarcadero ferry building and hit the city of San Francisco on foot with a general idea of our plans but no major commitments. 

View video for a more intimate visual.

The key to navigating the city is to equip yourself with good walking shoes, wear layers and plan the day in little spurts. For this day trip, we incorporated intervals of floating, walking, eating, drinking and viewing.

We settled on massages at Hotel Vitale Spa, a hop, skip and a jump away from the Embarcadero. It’s literally across the street from the ferry building. Even though this hotel caters to tourists, it’s a secret spot for locals who get chilled to the bone with the city’s moist cold weather.

Hotel Vitale Rooftop Voyeur Outdoor Bath – Exquisite! Photo by Courtney Paige

The concierge at Hotel Vitale mentioned a bottomless champagne brunch at La Fusion located on the quaint European alley, Belden Place. An option one can’t refuse. This alley is a treasure trove of quint awning-covered restaurants with cozy outdoor heaters.

Brunch at La Fusion Cafe is the quickest way to satisfy your bistro fix. Amazing Eggs Benedict. Photo by Courtney Paige

Next, we hopped the trolley for a mere $3 and moseyed over to the Museum of Modern Art on 3rd Street. 

San Francisco Muni Trolley – Public Transpo at its finest! Photo by Courtney Paige

Hot tip! MOMA is closed on Wednesdays.

San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art live rooftop deck. Photo by Courtney Paige

Rooftop massages and outdoor rose petal hot baths at the Vitale Spa is luxury beyond belief! A definite bucket list item. However, the piece de resistance is the Conservatory of Flowers.

Golden Gate Park’s Conservatory Flowers – Photo by Courtney Paige

What may seem like a different world than the building-packed inner-city metropolis, at the pinnacle of Golden Gate Park’s panhandle, just a few miles west of downtown, the Conservatory of Flowers links Haight-Ashbury and the 2.5-mile long lush city park. Public transportation is your best friend, roll with the flow and step off the Muni into a world where time stands still. ‘The Haight’ as it’s referred to by the locals, only supports local retail. You won’t find any national shopping or restaurant chains in the Haight. Though time is always of the essence when planning a day trip to the city because there is so much to do in such little time, make time to stop and smell the flowers at the jaw-dropping Conservatory of Flowers. It’s the perfect place to warm up & snuggle up on a cold foggy day. Inside, the atmosphere is tropical, a sheer contrast to the cool gray city’s urban mecca.

Inspiration is everywhere, so get moving! The world is waiting.

~ Courtney Paige

3 Replies to “San Francisco Day Trip”

  1. Hello readers! This article was written last year so I wanted to comment on a few updates regarding the SMART train. The train as most of you may know has been up and running for a few months. The launch was off to a rough start last year but once the train started rolling, it’s stayed on track. In fact, SMART is doing so well they have increased departure times, and they received the needed federal funding needed for the extension and began construction on the 2.2-mile leg from San Rafael to the Larkspur Ferry. Case in point, if you build it, they will come. Onward and upward! Woohoo for public transpo!!

  2. I can’t wait until the smart train is accepting passengers! I have always wanted to go back to San Francisco with my best friends. Reading this post really gave me a nostalgic feeling to when I went to San Francisco when I was 10. Do you know where the train will be picking up passengers once it’s operational? I would love to ride it when it’s finished. CS5711

    1. Hi dreameater4real. The train has a few local depots. Two in Santa Rosa, and one in Cotati. The Santa Rosa stations are at the airport and in Railroad Square. The Cotati station is just off East Cotati Ave not far from Sonoma State.

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