A Day Away: Fab Family Vacations Within 6 Hours of San Francisco

Families that live in the Bay Area have a spectacular choice of kid-friendly getaways within a day's drive, from beach towns to mountain escapes and national parks. These popular suggestions can all be reached in six hours or less, based on the estimated drive time from Mapquest.com.

  • 01 of 09
    Cavallo Point in Sausalito, CA
    ••• Kodiak Greenwood/Cavallo Point

    Drive time: 37 mins.
    In Travel + Leisure's most recent "best hotels" list, Cavallo Point in Sausalito was named the no. 1 hotel in the Bay Area and the no. 6 hotel in California. Set in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the luxurious hotel commands a one-of-a-kind historic vantage.

  • 02 of 09

    Santa Cruz, California

    SCTwinLakesSB_FCC_DonDeBold.jpg
    ••• Flickr Creative Commons/Don DeBold

    Drive time: 1 hr, 16 mins.
    With its family-friendly beaches, miles of open space and fun events for kids, Santa Cruz makes for a fantastic family getaway. 

  • 03 of 09
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    ••• Groveland Hotel/Yosemite Gold Country

    Drive time: 2 hrs, 20 mins.
    Looking for a scenic family road trip in northern California? Yosemite Gold Country includes the northern half of Yosemite National Park, gold rush towns, two state parks, eclectic shopping, wine tasting, fun dining, and incredible scenery including many unique geologic formations.

  • 04 of 09
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    ••• Anita Ritenour/Flickr Creative Commons

    Drive time: 3 hrs, 54 mins.
    With cliffs perched over white sand beaches and jaw-dropping ocean views, the scenic town of Pismo Beach is a gem on California's Central Coast. It is an ideal base from which to explore the 'Five Cities' community along Highway 1 as it winds through the beautiful landscape south of Big Sur.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
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    ••• Yosemite National Park

    Drive time: 4 hr, 3 mins.
    Protected since 1864, Yosemite is California's first national park. It is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.

  • 06 of 09
    SequoiaNP.jpg
    ••• National Park Service

    Drive time: 5 hrs, 12 mins.
    The second-oldest national park after Yellowstone, Sequoia National Park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, one of the largest trees on Earth. The park is contiguous to the north with Kings Canyon National Park. Together Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks contain 202,430 acres of old-growth forests.

  • 07 of 09
    Glamping at El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara
    ••• El Capitan Canyon

    Drive time: 5 hr, 22 mins.
    For families who like camping but don't love roughing it, glamping at El Capitan Canyon is the best of both worlds, delivering the sounds of nature, the smell of campfires and plenty of free-form fun—but in a hassle-free setting with comfy beds, running water, and easy access to meals.

  • 08 of 09
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    ••• UCSB Family Vacation Center

    Drive time: 5 hr, 22 mins.
    One of America's Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Families, This beachside summer camp takes place on the University of California Santa Barbara campus and earns raves from families for its enthusiastic counselors and the wide array of activities for kids and adults. Rates cover lodging, meals, and a roster of activities that includes hiking, mountain biking, tennis, and simply kicking back by the pool. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
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    ••• VisitMammoth.com

    Drive time: 5 hrs, 39 mins.
    Arguably the best fall foliage destination in California, the Inyo National Forest stretches from the eastern side of Yosemite to south of Sequoia National Park, covering 1.9 million acres of land and encompasses nine wilderness areas in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, including the John Muir Wilderness and Ansel Adams Wilderness. In the fall, the area's rugged canyons, high peaks and sprawling valleys are rich with colors from aspens, willows and cottonwoods turning bright orange, gold and red.