Culture, history, and outdoor adventure await in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One of California's most-visited cities, compact San Francisco has long drawn in visitors with its beautiful structures–from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the colorful Painted Lady rowhouses–and its famous cultural historic attractions. Here you’ll find historic sites such as Alcatraz Island and the oldest Chinatown in North America, along with hundreds of innovative restaurants and many of California’s most impressive museums. And while San Francisco has tons to see and do, it’s also a fantastic jumping-off point for exploring some of California’s most beautiful outdoor areas, many of which are just a short drive away.
Take the Golden Gate Bridge across the San Francisco Bay and you’ll find yourself in the North Bay, known for beautiful beaches, cute towns, and two of California’s most lauded wine regions: the Napa Valley and Sonoma County. You'll find fantastic camping options across the region, from the redwood forests of Mount Tamalpais State Park to secluded Angel Island State Park, which you can only reach by taking a boat or ferry across the San Francisco Bay.
While many people associate the East Bay with Oakland, you won't need to go far to get out into beautiful natural areas, either for the day or for a few nights. Great options with campgrounds include Mount Diablo State Park, where you can take in beautiful views of the region, and Anthony Chabot Regional Park, just east of San Leandro.
Some of California's most inviting stretches of coastline are within a short jaunt of San Francisco, from the dramatic cliffs of Point Reyes National Seashore in the North Bay to the sandy shores of Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco. While many of the camping options in this area are on private land, some state-run parks, such as Salt Point State Park, have campgrounds.
Part of the longer Pacific Coast mountain range, the Santa Cruz Mountains are great for hiking and backpacking. Both Castle Rock State Park and Portola Redwoods State Park have backcountry trail camping options, and Portola also has a group drive-in family campground. Sanborn County State Park is another good option, with both RV and hike-in campgrounds.
San Francisco's weather is notoriously idiosyncratic, so no matter when you visit, it's good to wear layers and be prepared for the possibility of rainfall. While early summer can get a lot of fog, things usually clear up by late August and stay warm well into early October. If you’re planning to camp in the area, you’ll find pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds after the Labor Day weekend.