Weekend Getaways: 3 Small Towns Near San Francisco For A Quick Escape
Our Favorite Weekend Getaways From San Francisco
If you haven’t noticed, we have been focusing a lot on intentional self-care over the past few weeks. In part, it’s because the holiday season can be extra busy. And with end of the year deadlines approaching at work, it’s easy to swap sleep and routine for more hours on the clock and boxes of late-night takeout.
But we’ve also been focusing on self-care because we live in a culture that doesn’t always prioritize it. As we work towards living more intentional, conscious lives, it’s essential to slow down and reflect, especially when we feel overwhelmed or at our edge. For this reason, we have created these escape guides, to encourage our city-dwelling readers to use nature as a place to rest and refuel.
Our last guide focused on our home, Los Angeles. For this roundup, we’re headed north. With more than 860,000 people, San Francisco is one of California’s most exciting and vibrant cities. It’s also home to a lot of noise, traffic, and work-induced stress. While we dearly love the Bay, we can understand the need to escape for a few days and breathe. If you live in or near San Francisco, here are three small towns where you can do just that.
Distance from SF | 129 miles via I-80 E & US-50 E
Experience old town charm and mountain air just a short drive inland of the SF Bay. With towering pine trees, gold rush history, and bountiful apple orchards, Placerville is a Northern California gem and the perfect town for a restful weekend escape.
Built in 1859, shortly after the Gold Rush, the Glen Morey House in one of Placerville’s oldest homes and was originally the residence of Dr. Isaac Titus before he went on to become a state senator. Now a family-operated bed and breakfast, this is a cozy retreat surrounded by 2-acres of wooded glen. Guests can expect a quaint atmosphere—the home is decorated with Scottish antiques and a hint of old world charm fills the air. In the mornings, guests can enjoy a local and organic breakfast, including warm, homemade baked goods. Rooms start at $130/night.
For a more luxurious weekend away, check out Eden Vale Inn. An early 1900’s hay barn, this B&B is the perfect blend of rustic and modern and includes a relaxing onsite spa. Guests can enjoy a healthy breakfast with homemade bread and local produce, and the Inn strives to reduce its carbon footprint through its sustainability model. Rooms start at $318/night.
Nourish your body at one of Placerville’s most sustainable eateries: The Farm Table. Focusing on local, seasonal ingredients, this well-loved restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch in an inviting dining space on Main Street. Gluten-free and vegan options are available.
For your brunch fix, Sweetie Pie’s is a classic with the locals and has been in business since 1991. Enjoy breakfast or lunch in this cozy Victorian-era home turned restaurant; the menu includes sandwiches, omelets, baked goods, and more (although everyone knows to order the pancakes).
More than 30 farms and orchards are scattered around Placerville, so spend a day outside exploring the local wineries and picking ripe apples. In the autumn, nearby Apple Hill is at its peak season, and many orchards host weekend events where you can indulge in warm pies and crisp cider.
Placerville is also the perfect setting for a leisurely picnic or mountain hike. We recommend walking the trails around Sly Park Lake, located a short drive north in Pollock Pines. If visiting in the summer, make sure to bring a towel for an afternoon swim.
Back in town, Main Street boasts of Gold Rush history. A perfect afternoon stroll, the street is lined with quaint home goods stores, antique shops, a local brewery, and two bookstores. If visiting during the holidays, make sure to grab a steaming cup of Totem’s conscious coffee and visit the famous Placerville Christmas tree.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance By Ruth Emmie Lang
Released early November, Ruth Emmie Lang’s debut novel is already earning rave reviews. A captivating story about an orphaned boy raised by wolves, this book is about “finding magic in the ordinary.” It’s the perfect weekend read for a mountain getaway, so grab a copy before leaving town.
Distance from SF | 154 miles via US-101 & CA-128 W
It’s hard not to fall in love with Mendocino. With its small-town charm, salt-infused air, and friendly community that cares deeply about the environment, it is well worth the 3-hour drive from the city. Be sure to pack your favorite fall sweaters; with average temperatures in the 50s, this isn’t Southern California beach weather.
An award-winning eco-resort, The Stanford Inn by the Sea invites city dwellers to reconnect with nature along the rugged Pacific coastline. Founded by Joan & Jeff Stanford in the 80’s, the Inn is a haven for visitors (and their pets).
Expect breathtaking views, cozy and spacious rooms, and an atmosphere designed to nurture your soul. The Inn provides paddle boards and bicycles, and an onsite wellness center offers massages, meditation, yoga, and more. For nourishment, the adjoining restaurant, The Ravens, serves award-winning vegan cuisine. The eatery has been celebrated for its local, organic ingredients, recycling program, and sustainable Californian wines. Rooms start at $275/night.
Away from the Inn, the Mendocino Cafe is a small eclectic eatery with views of the water. The restaurant serves a diverse and globally-inspired lunch and dinner menu, and the chefs are passionate about using organic and sustainable ingredients. Vegan and gluten-free options available.
Another favorite among both locals and visitors, Goodlife Cafe and Bakery is the perfect spot for a morning cup of local, fair trade coffee or a fresh-pressed juice. The cafe also serves a variety of gluten-free pastries and cakes, as well as a lunch menu inspired by local, organic ingredients.
A trip to Mendocino is not complete without a lazy day spent at Mendocino Headlands State Park. With endless trails and secluded inlets, bring your favorite novel and a cozy beach blanket. Other nearby parks worth exploring include Russian Gulch State Park, known for its leafy canyon and 36-foot waterfall, and Van Damme State Park, a fern-filled forest with a protected cove.
In town, EcoMendo, also known as TWIST, is a boutique store with up-cycled products and Made-In-The-USA apparel. For reading material, make sure to wander through Moore Used Books—a cozy hideaway on Main Street with bargain finds.
The Daily Meditation Podcast With Mary Meckley
We love Mary Meckley’s daily podcast with short (10-minutes or less) guided medications and words of encouragement. A perfect companion for your weekend by the sea, start each morning by listening to Meckley while walking the shoreline.
Distance from SF | 75 miles via US-101
This past fall, we all watched in horror as Northern California was devastated by the terrible wildfires. Californians, as well as people from all across the USA, rallied together to send resources, donate money, and stand in solidarity.
Now that the fires have been extinguished and restoration efforts are underway, the Napa Valley tourism industry is asking for visitors to return, as many of the businesses that were not directly impacted by the fire are now suffering from the decline in tourism.
Only 75 miles outside of the big city, San Francisco residents will love Calistoga, known as Napa Valley’s cutest town.
Romantic and surrounded by luscious gardens, La Belle Epoque is an adorable bed and breakfast that feels frozen in time with its fine china, candelabras, and Victorian charm. Guests can expect to be pampered with English toiletries from Gilchrist & Soames, and afternoon tea is served at 4 pm. For breakfast, enjoy a 3-course organic, farm-to-table meal. Rooms start at $250/night.
Founded in 2008, Yo el Rey Roasting is passionate about quality coffee beans, artisan micro-roasting, and environmental sensitivity. Stop by for a cup of coffee and to browse the local art featured on the shop’s walls.
At Sam’s Social Club, an upscale New American eatery, food is served all day, and meals are prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients. We recommend dining on the gorgeous patio with a handcrafted stone water feature for the ultimate al fresco experience.
In Calistoga, it’s mostly about the wine, so for a weekend of rest we recommend a picnic basket, your favorite book, and a glass of rosé. Additionally, the Petrified Forest makes for a wonderful day hike amongst the giant Redwood trees. The forest is currently closed while damages from the fire are assessed, but staff recently shared a photo on their Facebook page of deer roaming the trails, and the rangers are optimistic about the park’s future. If visiting Calistoga while the forest is still closed, consider making a donation to help with restoration efforts.
This Is The Place: Women Writing About Home By Margot Kahn
A collection of profound essays, the women authors in This is the Place seek to discover the meaning of home. A wildly emotional, moving, and exquisite piece of literature, this book is a must for your weekend in wine country.