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Wernher Krutein/photovault.com

Napa and Sonoma Counties are world-famous for fine wines; most vineyards and vintners welcome visitors for tastings and tours


 

About California Regions  ·  California Regions  ·  San Francisco - Wine Country

San Francisco - Wine Country Region

San Francisco is the center of region loaded with great travel opportunities. From San Francisco, travel for just over an hour and you could be touring Napa or Sonoma wine country or strolling among redwoods at Muir Woods or sunning on Stinson Beach or peering through telescopes at Chabot Observatory in Oakland. San Francisco is an ideal starting point for travel throughout the Bay Area and along the coasts north and south of the city.
 
For more detailed San Francisco travel information, go to the Top Destinations section. Also, in Top Destinations, there is a section focused on Napa and Sonoma covering accomodations, scenic drives, things to do and other vacation ideas.
 
Click within any green box to view another map.

San Francisco-Wine Country Region Map

San Jose Oakland San Francisco Golden Gate National Recreation Area Santa Cruz Coast Napa - Sonoma Wine Country Pacific Coast Highway Monterey - Big Sur Yosemite - Mammoth Sacramento - Lake Tahoe Mendocino - Clear Lake
Region Index Print/Zoom

From the surfer's at Ocean Beach to the vintners in Napa, this region can capture you for a day, a weekend or a month without boredom. Only a short drive separates big city San Francisco (and the nearby densely developed East Bay) and the laid-back rolling hills of Napa, Sonoma and the tiny hamlets of "wine country". The common theme is cuisine - a high priority for the entire region where a bad restaurant doesn't stand a chance.
 
San Francisco has something to offer everyone, including budget travelers. The views are free; ferries and cable cars are affordable and public transportation is widespread. With seven hills, two iconic bridges, waterfront on three sides, an ocean and a bay, just being in San Francisco is exhilarating. After that, there are the museums (Asian, Modern Art, Science, Cable Car, Maritime, among many more) and culturally distinct neighborhoods (Chinatown, Japantown, the Mission, North Beach, etc.). Shopping is a big draw, with Union Square, newly redesigned, as the starting point for most travelers.
 
For a family-friendly place, everyone takes the cable cars or hikes over the hills to Fisherman's Wharf for more museums, tours, bicycle rentals, novelty shops and the chocolate universe of Ghirardelli Square. On the way, Lombard Street and its serpentine curves is worth a stop and a photograph, especially when the landscaping is in bloom. Take a picnic to the region's version of Ellis Island, Angel Island (a State Park in the middle of the San Francisco Bay) - ferries provide the transportation. There are trails, a small beach and historic buildings - as well as the incredible views.
 
Wine country touring in Sonoma and Napa Counties is the perfect antidote to urban life. En route, there is the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County's lovely walkable towns (Sausalito, Mill Valley, Tiburon) swimmable Stinson Beach, a redwood grove with annotated trails near Mt. Tamalpais and perhaps best of all, Point Reyes National Seashore.
 
Napa and Sonoma valleys are distinct, separated by a ridge as well as a mindset. Most wineries, from the famous grand estates to the small boutique family operations, have tastings. The towns offer shopping, restaurants, produce markets and frequent festivals. Summer is busy, with sometimes heavy traffic on the curvy, narrow roads. Fall, winter and spring are excellent times to visit with different rhythms and scenery.
 
This region also offers family theme park fun at Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo and Paramount's Great America in Santa Clara. The East Bay has notable towns, including Berkeley and Oakland, both with multiple BART train stops. 
 
The coast just south of San Francisco is a short drive from the city or over highway 92 from Silicon Valley. From Pacifica to Half Moon Bay, there are beaches, ocean vistas, small restaurants and even whale watching and fishing boats at the Half Moon Bay harbor.

   


 
Wernher Krutein/photovault.com
If climbing the hills becomes too much, jump on one of the cable cars for an open air ride

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