Located on the east side of San Francisco Bay, Oakland, California is bordered by the rugged Pacific Coast to the west, as well as incomparably lovely lakes and forests to the north and south. Accordingly, the city of Oakland is in proximity to numerous relaxing and scenic weekend getaway destinations situated within easy driving distance. Cities and towns near many Oakland vacation rentals offer breathtaking landscapes, fascinating attractions, fun recreational activities, and exquisite dining opportunities. Here are the best weekend getaway destinations near Oakland.
The charming town of Mendocino lies on a headland overlooking the Pacific Ocean about three hours’ drive north of Oakland. Renowned as an art colony, the town has numerous cultural attractions such as the Mendocino Art Center, where you can stroll through gardens, view exhibits, enjoy concerts and theater, and interact with local artists. Soak your cares away at Sweetwater Spa, or enjoy a relaxing massage at Mendocino Massage. The gateway to the town’s natural beauty is Ford House Museum, which highlights the local town and maritime history and also serves as the visitor’s center for Mendocino Headlands State Park. Adjoining the town on its west side, the park offers spectacular views and hiking trails along the coastal headlands. Rent a bike to ride the paths or a canoe to explore the coastal waterways at Catch a Canoe and Bicycles Too.
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The town of Lakeport is about two hours north of Oakland on the west shore of Clear Lake at the edge of the Mendocino National Forest. Two local museums, the Courthouse Museum and the Historic Schoolhouse Museum, highlight the fascinating history of the area. Lake County is renowned for the quality of its wine and the hospitality of its wineries, so take a wine tour that includes Olof Cellars, Don Angel Cellars, and Robledo Family Winery, all located within the town of Lakeport, and Lake County Wine Studio in nearby Upper Lake. Grab an area trail map at Main Street Bikes in downtown Lakeport, and have a relaxing lakeside ride amidst breathtaking scenery. Clear Lake is the largest freshwater lake in California. For fun on the water, Disney’s Boat Rentals provides ski boats, fishing boats, pontoon boats, and jet skis.
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3. Bodega Bay
The picturesque town of Bodega Bay lies at the base of Bodega Harbor on the Pacific Ocean less than two hours’ driving time from Oakland. Bodega Head, a rocky outcropping with spectacular views of migrating whales off the Northern California coastline, protects the bay and the town. Some of the beaches around the area have great waves for riding, so try out the iconic California water sport with surfing lessons from the Bodega Bay Surf Shack. Bodega Bay Kayak rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards that allow you to explore the pristine waters around town. For an unforgettable adventure, go fishing on the open ocean for salmon, halibut, and tuna with North Bay Charters. When you’re hungry, sit near a window overlooking the water and feast on fine seafood cuisine at Tides Wharf Restaurant.
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4. South Lake Tahoe
The town of South Lake Tahoe, which sits on the southern shore of its sapphire blue namesake lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of Oakland, offers year-round weekend relaxation and excitement. In summer, learn the thrilling sports of water skiing and wakeboarding at Lake Tahoe Water Ski School. Explore the lake in style with a cruise on the Windsong Sailing Yacht. Grab some gear, advice, and maps at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters and have an angling adventure on the lake and along the nearby streams. Play 18 holes surrounded by spectacular scenery at the Lake Tahoe Golf Course. In winter, South Lake Tahoe vacation rentals offer easy access to the chairlifts at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Monument Peak for skiing and snowboarding. For family-friendly sledding and tubing snow fun, head for Taylor Creek Sno-Park on the west side of town.
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5. Pacific Grove
The lovely town of Pacific Grove lies on the tip of Monterrey Peninsula between the city of Monterrey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Nicknamed Butterfly Town U.S.A., Pacific Grove is famous for the flamboyant hordes of monarch butterflies that take up temporary residence in the eucalyptus trees at Monarch Grove Sanctuary during their annual migration. The town is also renowned for the charming historic architecture of many of its houses, the fascinating exhibits on California Central Coast ecology at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, and the Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse on the U.S. West Coast. Nearby is the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, with its amazing displays of marine life, and the 17-mile drive at Pebble Beach. Explore the eclectic shopping districts in and around Pacific Grove, including the boutiques and antique stores in its Victorian downtown area, the Sunset Business District near Pebble Beach, and Cannery Row in Monterrey. When you’re hungry, check out the Beach House Restaurant at Lover’s Point on the waterfront for delicious steaks and seafood.
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The charming and picturesque seaside town of Capitola sits just east of Santa Cruz on the northern end of Monterrey Bay just over two hours from Oakland. The quaint, brightly colored architecture of its downtown area and waterfront are reminiscent of a European village on the Mediterranean Sea. Find gear and rental boats for some relaxing fishing on Monterrey Bay at Capitola Boat and Bait. Take a surfing lesson, or rent a paddleboard to explore the bay at Capitola Surf and Paddle. Sample some great California wines while you tour Pelican Ranch Winery and Armida Winery in Capitola, and Wargin Wines and Bargetto Winery in the adjacent town of Soquel. Relax with some Italian food at Caruso’s Tuscan Cuisine or some Mediterranean fare at Rock of Petra.
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Historic Healdsburg lies in the midst of lovely Sonoma County wine country less than two hours from Oakland. From your Healdsburg vacation rental, stroll to Healdsburg Plaza, a charming walking area with a small town ambiance where you can browse through boutiques, bookstores, and art galleries. The town’s numerous wineries that offer tours and tastings include Jordan Vineyards and Winery, Williamson Winery, and Dry Creek Vineyard. Healdsburg has so many great restaurants that it’s impossible to check them all out on your own, so sample cuisine at some of the top places on a Savor Healdsburg Food Tour. Explore the town and the gorgeous surrounding scenery on a bike tour with Adventures in Cycling.
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