We have all seen the major tourist attractions of popular travel destinations. While these are great to finally witness first-hand, sometimes the best experiences we have while traveling are down the roads less traveled. Planning a trip to San Francisco doesn’t have to end at the city limits. Venturing beyond the high-profile touristy destinations can be a real breath of fresh air. Whether you’ve traveled abroad or are actively seeking out adventure, we’ve rounded up three unique must-see attractions outside of San Francisco to bring out the explorer in you.
The Historic District of Downtown Mariposa
Travel time: About 3.5 hours
Spend a day away from the busy, contemporary life and travel back in time. The Historic District of Mariposa has established guidelines that allow the town to maintain its historic identity. On the museum grounds, you can experience gold panning and visit an operating blacksmith shop. Noted for its association with the mining industry, Mariposa is home to over 60 historical buildings from the Gold Rush era. A few notable structures include the Mariposa county courthouse and the old stone jail.
Gray Whale Cove State Beach
Location: Half Moon Bay, California
Travel time: 40 minutes
Discover an array of natural wonders at Gray Whale Cove. Located on the San Mateo Coast, Gray Whale Cove is home to many different types of wildlife and ecosystems. The secluded and small beach will interest tourists and nature enthusiasts alike. Despite the hike to the beach, it’s worth a visit any time of year.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation explains that this 800-foot beach can be accessed only via a steep stairway. What makes this journey worth it? The gray whale’s migration path runs right along the coast of this beach. Gray whales migrate from December to January and March to May, so be sure to keep these time frames in mind when reserving your San Francisco accommodations.
Thornton State Beach
Location: Daly City, California
Travel time: 25 minutes
Daly City has a lot to offer its tourists. However, there isn’t much that can compare to the amazing views you’ll find at Thornton State Beach. Located on the coast in Daly City, Thornton State Beach is an adventure waiting for you. Take a brisk walk through the trails or rough it and hike the cliffs. The beach is a great place to lie back and check out the gorgeous sunsets and incredible kites and hang gliders.
Traveling with your furry companion? That’s no problem here! Thornton State Beach welcomes both you and your pet. Just be sure the two of you respect the natural landscape and the critters that make it their home. Make a day trip to entice the adventurer in you at Thornton State Beach.
It’s pretty amazing that there is so much to experience in San Francisco and the surrounding area. These locations are great for those who have a yearning for adventure and hours of wonderful stories to share from their explorations. Not all travelers are tourists. Some of us are off-the-beaten-path explorers. Living a full life entails creating incredible, unforgettable experiences!