10 Great Bay Area Staycation Ideas For Late Summer Or Fall

 August 11, 2016
Posted by jenn
It’s already mid-August (I know, it was May like three minutes ago, right?), and it’s highly possible that if you’re like me, you haven’t managed to plan a real vacation yet this year. Maybe you’re working on some terrible, godforsaken project at work and your manager refuses to take any time off so you feel like you can’t either and your significant other has been really, really pissy about this fact for the last several months. Or, maybe you just can’t afford a real trip this year because it hasn’t been the greatest year, money-wise. Well, we’ve got you covered with some fun and relaxing ideas for how to take a little time off without taking any real time away — and since you’re lucky to be living in one of the most scenic and fun vacation destinations in the country already, why leave? I’m guessing, too, that no matter how long you’ve lived here there are at least one or two things below that you haven’t tried. — Jay Barmann (SFist)
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Photo by Gwen.

Alameda Ferry And Crown Memorial State Beach
For a day spent on the Bay that might actually be warm (hey, maybe!) take an early morning ferry from downtown SF to the Alameda Main Street terminal. Bring your bikes along for the journey, because once you land it’s only a short ride to Crown Memorial State Beach — yes, a 2.5-mile-long sandy beach on the Bay that abuts warm water perfect for swimming. The water is shallow enough that it stays warm, and the currents aren’t too nuts if you stay close to shore. There are also picnic benches nearby if you feel like eating but want to keep the sand off your charcuterie plate. Swim and lounge the day away before taking the ferry back to SF — you’ll feel like you’ve been in a different world all day. — Jack Morse

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Sir & Star’s back patio. Photo via Rough Linen

Dinner And Possible Overnight In West Marin
While you may have done some exploring of Muir Woods, Stinson, and maybe even Point Reyes, there are some tucked-away gems in western Marin County I’m betting you haven’t discovered yet. First off, there’s a romantic and unique dinner spot that would make for a great day excursion on its own: Sir & Star, in Olema. The place is a reflection of its talented and quirky chef-owners, Margaret Gradé and Daniel DeLong, who for years have run the nearbyMankas Lodge in Inverness — which itself is a great idea if you want to turn this into an overnight. It’s also a reflection of Marin itself, with many of the ingredients coming from within just a few miles. If you’d rather do something more casual, you could also just swing up Route 1 through the Marin Headlands and have a picnic lunch/dinner of oysters and beer at theMarshall Store, or Hog Island Oyster Co., or head to the ridiculously charming town of Tomales, which feels intact from about 1880, and stop into William Tell House for drinks and dinner. — Jay Barmann

Go Camping In The Presidio
Did you know? San Francisco does has one approved campsite, Rob Hill campground, and it’s on a great perch in the Presidio. Surrounded by trees, birds, and the sound of the Pacific nearby, you’ll completely forget you’re in a major US city — except if you need to venture out for supplies, in which case you’ll be thankful for the proximity to civilization. Spend the day at Baker Beach or hiking trails and the evening roasting marshmallows or whatever around a fire pit. Note that Rob Hill is only open from April 1 to October 31 and that many camp sites are reserved for a program to give school kids a chance to experience the outdoors. That means availability is sometimes limited, though there are still dates open before the end of the season at $125 a night. —Caleb Pershan

Oakland Beer Garden Tour
For San Franciscans bored with Zeitgeist and Biergarten, Oakland’s cup overfloweth with great beer garden options, not to mention the weather to support them. Spend a day barhopping (and drinking slowly or intermittently, with plenty of snacking in between) at spots like Lost & Found (2040 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, between 21st and 20th Streets). There, “outdoor beer drinking… without the fog” is as promised and food, benches, and lawn games await. Portal(1611 2nd Avenue near Foothill Boulevard) provides lakeside lounging and an impressive tap list. Or if it’s burgers and corndog tots (!?) you seek — and you don’t mind a minor trek — check out the The Half Orange (3340 E 12th Street Suite 11 between 33rd and 34th Avenues) in Fruitvale. Feeling inspired? You can even brew your own batch of beer at Diving Dog (1802 Telegraph Ave between 18th and 19th Streets), but of course, since that will take some time, you’re more than welcome to enjoy their 30 options on tap, including beers made on premises by the pros. When the sun sets, treat yourself to pizza and porter around the fire pits at Drake’s Dealership, also nice last stop considering its relative BART proximity. —Caleb Pershan

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Photo courtesy of the Hotel Zeppelin

In-Town Staycation, Hip Kid Style
Whereas in years’ past you had to choose between the stodgy luxury of places like the St. Regis and the Fairmont, or the still pricy but more modern boutique hotels like the Vitale or the Phoenix, a new generation and style of hotel geared toward younger travelers has finally reached SF via the Viceroy Group with the recently opened Hotel Zeppelin, and the still relatively newly remodeled sister property, the Hotel Zetta. Both offer Viceroy’s signature rock-and-roll, playful vibe, with the Zeppelin sporting a coolly designed lobby-level bar and downstairs chill space and game room as well as record players in select rooms (restaurant still to come), and the Zetta offering a game mezzanine, an actual wall-sized Pinko board, lobby bar, and full-service restaurant (The Cavalier). And they covered the basics well for the younger traveler, like having a Jambox in every room (Zetta), and working, complimentary wi-fi throughout the building. Bonus: If you’re looking to staycay with your pet in tow, both hotels are pet-friendly with no weight restrictions. They’re both great spaces for removing yourself from the day-to-day and pretending you’re in another city that’s kind of like LA, but with way better food and less oppressively sunny weather. — Jay Barmann

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Photo from inside San Francisco’s Palace Hotel: Jeffrey Zeldman

Book Lodgings In a San Francisco Neighborhood Far From Yours
Sure, there are plenty of outdoor activities in SF, but to make the experience feel like a real getaway, why not book a residence or room in an area “opposite” of your neighborhood? If you live Downtown/SoMa/in the Mission, look at Outer Richmond residential Airbnb listings or check into the Seal Rock Inn, which is just steps from Lands End, Ocean Beach, and the old Sutro Mansion. Conversely, as a long-time Outer Sunsetter, for past birthday treats I’ve rented a charming Edwardian in the Castro and booked a weekend stay at the Hotel Intercontinental in SoMa, spending those days exploring the streets I’m usually rushing through to get somewhere else. This is a great way to get another perspective on your city and to shake yourself out of your neighborhood rut. Give it a shot! — Eve Batey

Take An Urban Hike
Say you can’t swing a trip out of town (work, dog, kid, finances, need your special mattress, etc), but want to get that vacation feel? An urban hike is the way to get that vibe, and the Urban Hiking and Happy Hour meetup group is the way to get your ass off the couch and do it. Over7000 members strong (don’t worry, they don’t all come on every hike), this group of “happy walking people” usually starts their hikes “at 12 or 1 at a public transportation friendly starting point and end(s) around 5 or 6 in time for happy hour.” Non-drinkers are welcome, and your canine pal might be too, as “some of our walks are dog friendly and when possible we will try to find a dog friendly happy hour.” Join the group here to keep abreast of events, but if you RSVP, you’d better come, as “no-shows are not appreciated. Chronic no-shows are really not appreciated.” — Eve Batey

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Photo of Tomales Bay oysters by choking sun.

Point Reyes Beach Picnic
While Tomales Bay Oyster Company may no longer allow picnicking, they do still sell oysters to go. Picking up few dozen as you head north for the day with a chilled bottle of wine is one of the best ways to truly feel like you’re on vacation without straying too far from the Bay. Once you’ve grabbed your oysters, backtrack down Highway 1 to the other side of Tomales Bay and start heading north. Make your way to McClure’s Beach with oysters, wine, bread, and a blanket in tow. While the beach is never that crowded, if you truly want to be alone (and want some killer views) hop on the nearby Tomales Point Trail for a 2 mile walk to the northern tip of Point Reyes. It’s otherworldly, and will make you wonder why you don’t staycation more often.— Jack Morse

Go Wine Tasting In the Santa Cruz Mountains
Everybody thinks you have to go north to find wine country, but it’s actually all around us, and wine tasting in places where not everybody knows to go can usually be a lot more fun. So, especially when the weather’s nice, I suggest heading south to explore some of the many wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains. You could start with one of the OG operations in California, Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello estate, where grapes were planted as early as the 1880s and which was purchased by some Stanford engineers in 1959 who started making Cabernet Sauvignon there in 1962. The Monte Bello Cab famously came in fifth in the 1976 Judgement of Paris and continues to be a hugely celebrated example of the grape, and the hilltop tasting room in Cupertino is an awesome, out-of-the-way experience for oenophiles. Head further into the mountains and you’ll find respected Pinot producers Savannah-Chanelleand Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, and then you can head to Bonny Doon Vineyards in woodsy Bonny Doon, which is as eclectic and weird as Santa Cruz wines can get. Time it right, and you can be dining in Carmel by sunset, or back in the city for dinner before it’s dark. — Jay Barmann

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The view from the bocce court at Bar Bocce. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Bicycle to Sausalito, Ferry Back
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s a perfect day away from the usual for so many reasons. For starters, there are so many great ways to get to and from Sausalito that don’t involve sitting in traffic. If you’re into cycling, or just feeling like renting a bike and getting your legs moving, you can bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and cruise into town (it’s mostly downhill and is one of the best bike rides in the Bay Area). Once there, hit up Bar Bocce, an outdoor bar with water views and delicious pizza. Not to worry if you put a few too many beers back — this is where the ferry comes in. Bikes are of course allowed on the ferry, and you can park it below while you sit up top and sip a beer from the ferry bar. Enjoy the views as you head back to the city fog, and remind yourself that you should really take staycations more often. — Jack Morse

(thanks SFist)

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