California’s Golden Region: Day Trips from Oakland

The Bay Area is not only one of the most beautiful parts of California, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of America. The area to the east of San Francisco Bay is commonly known as East Bay, and Oakland is the largest city in the region, with 400,000 residents and a host of amazing parks, lakes, and historical architecture. But one of the most exciting things about living in Oakland is its close proximity to a wide variety of amazing day trip locations. The number of things you can see or do with just a short journey on the BART trains or an hour or two in the car is pretty fantastic. Here are some options for your next weekend road trip.

Big Sur

Big Sur

Big Sur

The gorgeous coastal town of Big Sur lies 140 miles south of Oakland. A popular location for vacation homes, weddings, and honeymoons, you’ll find beaches and mountain climbing, plus plenty of other recreational activities and spectacular coastal scenery. State parks like Limekiln and Pfeiffer offer access to cliffs and hiking trails. The town also features the Esalen Institute, a famous holistic spa and center where you can get a massage or take a class on natural healing.

Napa Valley

One of the most famous regions for wine production in the world lies a mere 38 miles north of Oakland, with over 300 wineries and an endless stretch of vineyards to explore. But wine tasting isn’t the only thing you can do in Napa. There are a variety of gourmet restaurants, Napa river cruises, and even hot air balloon flights. Take cooking or wine-making classes at the Culinary Institute of America or the Napa Valley Wine Academy or take advantage of the town’s shops, spas, and golf courses.

Santa Cruz

The sleepy Bay Area city of Santa Cruz is just 67 miles south of Oakland, and it offers plenty to attract tourists of all ages. While it offers its own scenic coastlines and beautiful hiking trails and beaches, it also has urban amenities that are worth exploring. The Museum of Natural History, Museum of Art and History, and Surfing Museum attract millions of visitors, and there are dude ranches and live theatre. One not-to-be-missed attraction is the Mystery Spot, an optical illusion tilted location where the laws of physics and gravity don’t apply.

Carmel by the Sea

    Carmel Mission (Carmel-by-the-Sea, California)

Carmel Mission (Carmel-by-the-Sea, California)

Carmel is a prime destination for Bohemian San Francisco residents looking to get away, and it’s only 115 miles south of Oakland. It offers a historic mission and some amazing live theatre options. The Pacific Repertory Theater, the only live theater group in Monterey County, operates out of four venues all in the Carmel region. Of course, the main attractions are still the beaches, parks, and gardens, even if there are more eclectic alternatives. Try Smallsea, a museum of miniatures that recreates an Edwardian town from the early 20th century.

If you’re looking for a big city instead of a small town, you can always head to San Francisco or San Jose. Berkeley and Monterey are also within easy reach, because Oakland is right in the heart of the East Bay region. Though Oakland is a great place to live and work and you’ll probably never be bored there, it’s important to remember that you’re within easy reach of every spot in an incredible area of the country. As a resident, you should plan to take advantage of it all.

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