Back to list
Scenic drives: the perfect excuse for escaping San Francisco
by Mackenzie M. • October 25, 2018


San Francisco is a special place. It’s hard to argue with that. From the delicious burritos in the Mission District to the breathing taking views of the entire city from the top of Twin Peaks, there are no shortages of things to do and places to see in the city. However, sometimes it can be really nice just to get away and take a break from the busy streets of San Francisco. One nice thing about having a car is that you have the ability to get behind the wheel and explore other amazing places around you. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite scenic drives that make for the perfect excuse to escape the city - even if it’s just for an hour or two.

Pt. Reyes: When we think of Pt. Reyes, the first thing that comes to mind is the picturesque lighthouse located right at the tip. However, that is just one highlight you can find on this mini road trip, just one hour outside of San Francisco. Along this scenic drive going north on Hwy 1, you can find rolling hills, forests, and beaches. If you need a pit stop, there are tons of great places to eat in Pt. Reyes like Bovine Bakery and Cowgirl Creamery.

Junipero Serra Freeway: Junipero Serra Freeway, also known as Highway I-280, is rightfully titled the “World’s Most Beautiful Highway”. When you take the drive yourself, you’ll see why. A 50+ mile drive from San Francisco to San Jose may sound anything but exciting, but there are so many breathtaking views along the way. Our personal favorite? The Crystal Springs Reservoir. It’s a beauty.

Hwy 29, Napa: Though Napa itself is a magical place, the rolling hills covered in grapevines along the way make for the perfect scenic drive. Just make sure that you have a designated driver with you if you decide to make a few pit stops! If you’re looking for a non-wine related stop, we’d recommend checking out Alston Park for some sunshine or taking a hot air balloon ride.

Hwy 35: Hwy 35, also known as Skyline Boulevard, has one of the most stunning views in the entire Bay Area. From San Francisco, you’ll hop on Highway 280 and head in the direction of Half Moon Bay. Along the way, you’ll see miles and miles of gorgeous woods and the Crystal Springs Reservoir.

Hwy 1: Probably the most iconic highway in California, Hwy 1 will take you all the way down the West Coast. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can cruise all the way down to San Diego (if you have 12 hours to spare and want a great weekend getaway). However, in just 2 hours, you can make it to Santa Cruz in just two hours when you take Hwy 1. You’ll also get to pass by Half Moon Bay on your way!

Conzelman Road, Mill Valley: If you’re looking for a scenic drive with a lot of instagram-worthy spots along the way, Conzelman Road may be exactly what you’ve been searching for. From the beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge to the historic Point Bonita Lighthouse, there are some pretty astonishing places to explore just north of San Francisco (even on those extra foggy days!).

Whether you’re driving 30 minutes or three hours, it can feel really nice to roll the windows down, put on your favorite playlist, and explore somewhere new from behind the wheel of your car. There are so many beautiful places in Northern California to see, and the scenic drives are truly endless.