Interesting and Cool Places near San Francisco?

I’m trying to put together a group retreat with some business colleagues in October. Are there any cool and interesting spots a few hours from SF a little different than your standard weekend getaway?

Thanks Everyone!!


We actually run a trip to SF and our guide is a master at building unique experiences in the Bay Area. I would be happy to put you in touch in case you would want her to put something together for you!


Hello Riley,
There are certainly some great things to do around SF that might be away from the usual. I guess a question is what your group is interested in. If they like walking, then there are a series of trails out in the Land’s End area of the city that are marvelous. Although it is a spot many people go, it is a place where you can also find yourself wandering on your own along a trail. There is a new visitors center off of Point Lobos Avenue. You can even wander down to a stone labyrinth down by the water which looks towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you have time for a longer walk, there is actually a trail that goes from Lands End to the Golden Gate Bridge itself. You pass by China Beach, Baker Beach and Marshall’s Beach. These are also lesser known and equally lovely spots in the city.

If your group is into fishing, you can go to the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club that is in Golden Gate Park. There is also Stow Lake right in the middle of the park that is wonderful, as is the AIDS Memorial Garden which is part of the Botanical Gardens. Frankly you could have an amazing day wandering around Golden Gate Park. There is so much to do and see, with several museums.

For food I would suggest Taddish’s, which is one of the oldest restaurants in the city. That is downtown. If you are out at Land’s End, then the Seal Rock Inn has a classic diner for a bit of carbo loading - although the Cliff House has great popovers. Pacific Cafe on 7000 Geary Blvd is one of the best seafood spots in the city.

Also I love wandering the small shops in Japantown’s Japan Center. There is a sizable indoor mall that has unique little shops and food kiosks. Kushitsuru Restaurant is good and you can get some serious noddles there as well.

If you have more details as to what the group might like I can offer other suggestions. Thanks - Carlyle


If you’re going a few hours from SF, I recommend taking a drive to Point Reyes/Inverness to the Lighthouse. While the lighthouse is still pretty spectacular, it’s the hills and (foggy) beaches surrounding the lighthouse that really make you feel small and simultaneously on top of the world. I’d put Drakes Beach into your GPS (near the Lighthouse)—if you look hard enough, you’ll find hidden trails that will take you up to the top off the cliffs overlooking the beach. It may be a bit steep depending on what direction you take, but there is also a trail that is flat, and you’ll find a hidden lake.

At the Lighthouse near the parking lot, I urge you to roam around towards the cliffs—don’t worry, it’s safe! You’ll be totally secluded and the ocean will go on for miles. Sometimes you’ll see seals and whales depending on the time of year. There are some Airbnbs in the area, close to some fresh oysters and wine, and if you go the other direction, you’ll hit a tiny town with delicious ice cream! Lots of kayaking in the area too.


I second Paisley on this for sure. Pt. Reyes is magical! And the stretch of beach north of the lighthouse is awe inspiring. If you are feeling very adventurous - as I was one year - you can even camp right near the water. Be ready for raccoon encounters however! One even successfully opened the door of my tent!

It is spots like Pt. Reyes that make the Northern California coast so incredible.


About forty minutes from SF the area known as the “coastside” has a wirld famous tide pool, beaches, surfing, gourmet eating, fishing, harbor, wide variety of choices to stay, light houses, history and shopping. The Coastisde encompasses Montara, Moss Beach,El Granada, Half Moon Bay and a bit further on Pescadero


I also wholeheartedly recommend the Pt. Reyes/Inverness area. The best retreat I’ve been on operated out of the Marconi Conference Center there. This is a gorgeous relaxing spot surrounded by wildlife where you can easily hop out of the conference room and stroll down to Tomales Bay or onto the trails.

I would highly recommend Timber Cove Lodge. About 2 1/2 hrs. up the coast from SF. It is a magnificent structure. I believe it was originally built by an architect for his family. It is perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. Absolutely beautiful in every respect. Worth taking a look at. It is also quite secluded, which, I think would make it a lovely place for a retreat.

I think you mean The Tadich Grill.

I highly recommend this walking tour, given by a real nice gentleman impersonating Emperor Norton, a unique and interesting person in San Francisco history

About a one hour drive south of San Francisco off of the 101 is The Computer History Museum, literally blocks away from the Googleplex


I recently had this same, exact need. Wanting to get somewhere unconventional and off the beaten path when visiting San Francisco, not wanting to spend a ton of time sifting through options. Was told about, which is based in SF. There were magicians and offered a free consult. hooked me up with an insanely awesome getaway on the Mendocino coast (they also suggested Timber Cove Lodge and Deetjens). It’s a wonderful part of the country. Enjoy!

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Devil’s Slide bunkers are pretty cool and right off the highway:

I went with my brothers a few years ago: John on Instagram: “Devil’s Slide Bunker is an abandoned observation bunker from World War II. It’s just off of highway 1 near San Francisco. I went with 2 of…”

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going in another direction, you might want to check out the very small town of Port Costa, between 880 and 680, or between Crockett and Benicia. It is a slow, windy road through the hills to the small village of Port Costa which is quirky and very cool. there are a couple of restaurants and a hotel there. It could be a day trip or overnight.


Hello, We will have 1 day in SF on 11/2 and I am looking for a tour. Thoughts?

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Shhh! Keep this place a secret :slight_smile:
Actually, this is a great suggestion.

Seriously, it is such an interesting place and so different (and unknown) to most in the Bay Area. There are 3 places there you should know about:

  1. Bull Valley Roadhouse Restaurant. When it opened several years ago it was ranked in the top 70 restaurant openings in the world, and it lives up to its reputation. I have been there several times as it is my favorite restaurant at the moment. Wonderful different approach to recipes and they have drink recipes from the Prohibition!
    2)Before dinner at Bull Valley go across the street to the Warehouse Cafe, a wonderful eclectic bar and restaurant where it is as much fun to look at the walls as it is to have a drink. Try the fish chowder as its superb.
  2. A couple of stores down from the Warehouse, and across the street from the Bull Valley, is a very interesting antique store. Forgot the name of it but it is a great place to browse.

This is at least a half-day trip if you start out early but most likely a 3/4 day trip.

If you really want something different to clear your head and just put your brain in a different gear go to Mendocino State Park and take a hike near the sea. Then, when you leave, drive over to Ukiah, where there is the City of 10,000 Buddhas. ‘10,000 Buddahs’ is a monastery with wonderful grounds where you are allowed to walk (among peacocks). They serve lunch there and you could visit the temples, bookstore, and, of course, the Buddhas. All-in-all a very serene, interesting place.

After these two places you should be very relaxed and ready for the next day.


The city of San Francisco has several free walks all over the City. You just tip the guide. Very knowledgeable students and retired people. I just read about the Chinatown tour, I want to do that one. Google: San Francisco Free City Walks