I've just booked my flights to San Francisco for 2 1/2 weeks the day after Christmas.
As this will now be my 4th time in the city (I have a relative who lives just outside so free accommodation!), I really want to explore a new area that's accessible by public transport (I can't drive) and you can get to in no more than 4 hours. Obviously California doesn't have many trains and is MASSIVE so I'm at a bit of a loss of where to go. I was considering getting the train down to LA for a couple of days, but considering it takes a day to get there (although it's meant to be a beautiful route) and back, it would take up too much of the trip... I'm on a tight budget also so flights are out of the question.
Could anyone recommend some places?
Here's where I have visited over the years nearby:
- Santa Cruz
- Big Sur / Monterrey / Carmel
- Lake Tahoe
- Half Moon Bay
- Palo Alto
And obviously Berkeley and Oakland which I love and shall be returning to, especially as you can get to them on the BART.
Yosemite or Reno
If you're young and poor, I suggest looking at one of these tours (provided you'd be willing to overnight).
[ Edit: Edited on 22-Sep-2015, at 11:32 by Daawgon ]
If you like wine, see if there is a tour to Sonoma. Sonoma is closer than Napa Valley but has some really great wineries.
The public ferry over to Sausalito, passing Alcatraz on the way, is a pleasant ride & Sausalito is a nice town to visit. A couple I met there told me they were going to get a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge & walk over it.
I have not been there but Muir Woods looks like it could be interesting & that might be do-able by public transport or if not there must be tours that go there.
This gives some info about Sausalito & the public & private ferries
I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss a flight. There are $100 flights (one way - but a "train" ticket (I could only get the amtrak site to show a bus) was up to $100 for the same journey.
I was looking on skyscanner, searching the whole month between the two cities for Dec.
Otherwise - there are good hikes around Santa Rosa (I liked Mt. Hood) if you're willing to make a friend up that way via Couchsurfing.
Hope that helps!
Well, there are many wine country areas besides Napa. As mentioned above there is Sonoma, but both Napa and Sonoma cost way more than the other ones close-by--Santa Cruz wineries, Lodi wineries, Paso Robles wineries, and the wineries in the mountaineous areas, like in Murphys or in Grass Valley/Alpine. Some of these will be closed during this period, but most won't. You could combine a trip to Lodi or Murphys with a stop over in the city of Davis, which is a fun college town. Be aware that the college will be closed over Christmas week, so wait until the week after when classes are back in session if you want to be there when all the students are--or go on Christmas week if you want to avoid the crowds.
There are also the places in town--Golden Gate Park, Exploratorium, Cliff House Restaurant, Allcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, Little Italy, Chinatown, Painted Ladies houses, shows at the Comedy House or Beach Blanket Babylon, nightclubs like Ruby Sky, totally crazy places like the Armory, or culinary outings at a place along Columbus Street.
Lastly, don't immediately rule out Las Vegas. You can get a round trip ticket there for New Years Eve on Southwest Airlines (staying two nights) for only $238. Tickets for a good show will be a bit extra (for example, Celine Dion tickets start at $117 on New Years Eve, but lounge shows in Las Vegas are free, and there are lots of cheaper shows to go to--or just go watch the free fireworks show at midnight.