The Eco Office team works hard refurbishing office furniture, devising office layouts and meeting with Bay Area clients throughout the week. But everyone needs time off to rest, relax and replenish. Living in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area means you are within three hours of virtually every ecosystem and climate the planet has to offer.
Here are five of the best weekend getaway spots near the Bay Area.
Granted San Francisco does not exactly get "hot" at any point during the year. But crisp, cool mountain air is just three hours east on Interstate 80. Spend your Friday night in one of the waterfront South Lake Tahoe hotels. Wake up Saturday morning and head 35 miles south on Highways 89 and 88. You'll reach 8,600 feet above sea level at Carson Pass. Snow is ever-present on top of the mountains, whether its July or January. There are plenty of campgrounds for outdoorsy types. Several lodges and resorts are within a few miles of Carson Pass as well if you prefer the indoors.
Scenic views, sandy beaches and gorgeous sunsets are just three hours north of the Bay Area. Pristine tree lines, wineries and fine dining are also on the agenda for any trip to Mendocino. Those who appreciate art can peruse several galleries in the area, particularly at the Mendocino Art Center. Fort Bragg is just 15 miles north of Mendocino. It's known for its art galleries and museums too. Fort Bragg is also the place to be for exploring and hiking redwood forests. Crystal clear skies and starry nights are the norm for this area of the coast.
Most of the 240-mile trip northeast of the Bay is on Interstate 5. The last leg on Highway 36 is a bit of a slog. But it's well worth it. Stop at the visitors center, pick up some literature and view some of the movies about the area so you don't miss anything. One of the best hiking trails rises 2,000 feet in less than three miles. Thus it's best suited for advanced hikers and/or people in decent physical shape. Bumpass Hell Trail is one of several hydrothermal must-see sites. Expect to see snow even in July. The best part is that Lassen is not a popular destination. It's not unusual to reach the summit of Mount Lassen and be the only people up there, even in the summer.
Those who have never driven State Highway 1 (PCH) can take the scenic route all the way from the Bay Area to Big Sur. Just do it in the daytime. The drop-offs, sharp curves and potential blockades due to landslides are not something a first-timer wants to deal with at night. The waterfalls, redwoods and mountains are sure to take your breath away. Make certain to visit McWay Falls and the the Esalen Institute for a dip in the hot springs. Depending on the time of year, you could see the gray whale migration in the ocean and elephant seas on the shores. Watch the sunset at Nepenthe. The food is a bit pricey, but the views make up for it.
The trip from San Francisco to Yosemite is about four hours. Those with no car can take the Amtrak to Merced, then a YARTS bus the rest of the way in six total hours. Alpine lakes, waterfalls and exquisite rock formations are popular attractions for tourists. Winter in Yosemite is the best experience. You'll drive in from sunny and 70 degrees, to a point you need chains on your car tires due to snow and ice. Food and dining at the park are very expensive. Travel to Mariposa for good food and drinks at more reasonable prices. Yosemite is busy year-round. It's best to pre-plan any trip and book your accommodations well in advance.-------------------------------
Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Samantha writes for several retailers and mommy bloggers, and runs an e-commerce store.