With a myriad of dining options, beautiful architecture, and fun attractions based in San Francisco, this iconic city delivers a truly one-of-kind experience. Book a week-long stay at a vacation rental in San Francisco. When you desire a change of pace from the big city atmosphere, consider a weekend getaway at a quaint town or community. Be surrounded by the natural beauty of the outdoors and rich cultural history. When you decide to leave San Francisco for a couple of days, check out one of these seven weekend getaway spots.

1. Redding, California

bridge, trees, sky
Source: Flickr/Doug Kerr

The Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in Redding, California offers the Whiskeytown Waterfall Challenge. Perfect for a weekend getaway, the challenge requires you to complete all four waterfall hikes in one day. Behold the stunning waterfalls on your hike, while the green backdrop creates a picturesque ambiance. Redding is located three and a half hours from San Francisco. Enjoy a walk along the amazing Sundial Bridge, which serves as a functional sundial. After observing this stunning landmark, visit the Turtle Bay Exploration Park to explore nature through the arboretum, botanical gardens, and museum. For a 200 million year history lesson, enjoy a catamaran cruise to the Lake Shasta Caverns to view rooms full of flowstone, stalactites, and stalagmites. Redding delivers a fast growing local brewery scene with local favorites such as Wildcard and Woody’s for award-winning beers and American fare. For a cultural experience, visit Armando’s Gallery House for an appetizing restaurant that doubles as an art gallery and wine lounge.

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2. Cayucos, California

dam bridge water
Source: Flickr/Fred Moore

Well-known for a casual atmosphere and great food, Cayucos gives you a weekend getaway to the beach. Located less than three hours from San Francisco, this mellow town offers beautiful weather and gorgeous views of the California coast. Whether you relax on the beach or enjoy the casual dining scene, Cayucos creates a memorable experience. A hike through Estero Buffs State Park allows you to get up close and personal with nature, while a visit to Cayucos State Beach provides a fishing pier for panoramic views of the natural slopes. Try your luck at landing a big fish to fry for dinner. Twice a year elephant seals migrate to the Piedras Blancas rookery, so plan your trip accordingly to experience this astounding phenomenon. Visit Hearst Castle to enjoy the stunning architecture with a walking tour through the 60,000 square foot mansion. Clam chowder lovers will delight over a signature chowder from Duckies. If you have a sweet tooth, check out the Brown Butter Cookie Company for sea-salt topped cookies.

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3. Virginia City, Nevada

old town saloon
Source: Flickr/Patrick Nouhailler

Take a four and a half hour drive from San Francisco to reach Virginia City for an experience reminiscent of the Wild Wild West. Many of the Old West saloons sit within walking distance of each other, and Victorian architecture helps add to the charm and vintage appeal of this small town. Delight at a 100-mile view of the valley from The Bonanza Saloon or snap photos at the Delta Saloon, which is the oldest watering hole in Virginia City. On a weekend visit in September, you can enjoy a unique experience by watching the International Camel & Ostrich Races. Take a four-mile train ride on the V and T Railroad for a narrated tour from Virginia City to Gold Hill. Although dining options are limited, check out Cafe Del Rio for some authentic Tex-Mex cuisine or Crown Point for American dishes.

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4. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

rock formations, pond
Source: Flickr/Don Graham

Perfect for hiking or climbing Mount Lassen, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers an unmatched outdoor experience. This beautiful park is located three and a half hours from San Francisco, and Bumpass Hell offers a large hydrothermal area highlighted by mud pots and boiling pools. Take photos of the Big Boiler to capture a roaring stem vent or walk through the Subway Cave for an underground adventure through a lava tube. Restaurants are scarce near the park. However, Drakesbad Guest Ranch offers buffet-style breakfast and lunch. Grab a sack lunch when leaving so you can eat on-the-go while you explore the outdoors.

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5. San Luis Obispo, California

California beach oceanWhether it’s beaches, hiking, or delicious food, take a three and a half hour drive from San Francisco to experience San Luis Obispo. Enjoy a ride on the Hop on Beer Tour for a trip to more than a dozen craft breweries. Take a hike to the top of Bishop’s Peak to experience a scenic view of your natural surroundings. There are several museums and art galleries, but you may enjoy a visit to Bubblegum Alley a little more. This quirky attraction lets visitors leave their mark on the walls with chewed gum. If you love a great glass of wine, visit Laetitia Vineyard & Winery for a taste of seven unique sparkling wines.

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6. Downieville, California

lake trees cabin
Source: Flickr/Ken Lund

Four miles away from San Francisco sits the quaint town of Downieville, California. This quiet and serene place is an outdoorsman’s dream. Mountain biking serves as the favorite local activity, and a day fishing or canoeing on one of Downieville’s multiple hidden lakes delivers hours of fun. For a short and easy hike, visit Love’s Falls, which ends your outdoor adventure with a gorgeous waterfall. For a creepy lesson in history, visit the historic Sheriff Gallows, which were built in 1885, and were only used once. Registered as a historic landmark, this eerie structure still stands. After working up an appetite outdoors visit Coyoteville Diner for lunch. If you want a cold beer or a delicious cocktail, go to St. Charles Place. Restaurants are limited in Downieville, but nearby Sierra City offers a more diverse selection.

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7. Leggett, California

tree bridge
Source: Flickr/Stephen Colebourne

Driving through Chandelier Tree is an amazing reason to take a three-hour drive from San Francisco to Leggett, California. Snap a picture inside of this gigantic redwood before exploring the beautiful park. Hike through Smithe Redwoods State Reserve to view a breathtaking 60-foot waterfall or enjoy a quiet picnic surrounded by a forest of stunning redwoods. Relax in the sun next to the Eel River or have fun fishing and swimming in the south fork of the river. Visit Peg House for rustic burgers and sandwiches after a long day hiking. This casual restaurant features live music on weekends, and a convenience store to purchase daily essentials.

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