Lonely Planet San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Road Trips by Lonely Planet, Sara Benson, and Alison Bing - Read Online
Lonely Planet San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Road Trips
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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Whether exploring your own backyard or somewhere new, discover the freedom of the open road with Lonely Planet San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Road Trips. Featuring four amazing road trips, plus up-to-date advice on the destinations you'll visit along the way, explore San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sonoma County, all with your trusted travel companion. Jump in the car, turn up the tunes, and hit the road!

Inside Lonely Planet San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Road Trips:

Lavish color and gorgeous photography throughout Itineraries and planning advice to pick the right tailored routes for your needs and interests Get around easily - easy-to-read, full-color route maps, detailed directions Insider tips to get around like a local, avoid trouble spots and be safe on the road - local driving rules, parking, toll roads Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Useful features - including Stretch Your Legs, Detours, Link Your Trip Covers San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, Marin County, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Russian River, Bohemian Highway and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Road Trips is perfect for exploring the San Francisco Bay Area in the classic American way - by road trip!

Looking for a guide focused on San Francisco? Check out Lonely Planet San Francisco for a comprehensive look at all the city has to offer, Discover San Francisco, a photo-rich guide to the city's most popular attractions, or Pocket San Francisco, a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip. Looking for more extensive coverage? Lonely Planet California, our most comprehensive guide to the region, is perfect for exploring both top sights and lesser-known gems, or check out Discover California, a photo-rich guide to the region's most popular attractions.

There's More in Store for You:

For more US road-tripping ideas, check out Lonely Planet's Road Trips guides to Route 66 andPacific Coast Highways and Lonely Planet's Best Trips guides to California, New England, Southwest USA, Pacific Northwest, Florida & the South, New York & the Mid-Atlantic, and USA. Or start with our FREE SAMPLER '3 of the USA's Best Road Trips' with excerpts from each Road Trips guide to help you pick which region to explore first. Also, check out Lonely Planet's Road Trips guides to Chateaux of the Loire Valley, Normandy & D-Day Beaches, and Provence & Southeast France and Lonely Planet's Best Trips guides to Italy, France, and Ireland for some European road trip inspiration.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveler community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travelers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Note: The digital edition of this book is missing some of the images found in the physical edition

Published: Lonely Planet on
ISBN: 9781743607176
List price: $12.99
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Plan Your Trip

Welcome to San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country

San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Map

San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Highlights

San Francisco City Guide

Need to Know


1 San Francisco, Marin & Napa Loop

2 Napa Valley

3 Sonoma Valley

4 Russian River & the Bohemian Highway


San Francisco

Marin County & the Bay Area

Marin Headlands


Sir Francis Drake Blvd & Around

Muir Woods National Monument


Point Reyes Station

Point Reyes National Seashore

Napa & Sonoma Wine Country

Napa Valley

Napa Valley Wineries



Oakville & Rutherford

St Helena

Calistoga & Around

Sonoma Valley

Sonoma Valley Wineries

Sonoma & Around

Glen Ellen & Kenwood

Russian River Area

Russian River Area Wineries


Occidental & Around

Guerneville & Around

Healdsburg & Around

Bodega Bay

Sonoma Coast State Beach


CALIFORNIA Driving Guide

Driver’s License & Documents


Renting a Vehicle


Roads & Conditions

Road Rules



Road Trip Websites

Behind the Scenes

Our Writers


San Francisco is the anchor of California’s most diverse region, even if earthquakes have shown it isn’t rock solid. From exploring the rugged beaches of Marin County to floating down the isolated bends of the Russian River, from poking around (and through) the redwoods to picnicking beneath giant oaks, there’s no shortage of natural places to explore and scenic roads to drive.

     Then there is the wine and food… Many visitors seek out the iconic Napa Valley for cabernets and sparkling wines, but you can sip equally impressive vintages in Sonoma and Dry Creek. Then soak in some hot springs, where conversations start with, ‘Hey, dude!’ and end hours later.

Wine Country

Vineyards stretch across rolling hills in Napa and Sonoma Valleys



Golden Gate Bridge

Other suspension bridges impress with engineering, but none can touch the Golden Gate Bridge for showmanship.



California’s towering giants grow along much of the coast, from Big Sur north to the Oregon border.



Swaths of vineyards carpet hillsides as far as the eye can see, but it’s quality, not quantity, that sets California’s Wine Country apart.



San Francisco

Victorian houses



Ride the clanging cable cars up unbelievably steep hills, snake down Lombard St’s famous hairpin turns, cruise through Golden Gate Park and drive across the arching Golden Gate Bridge. Then go get lost in the creatively offbeat neighborhoods of California’s capital of weird.

Getting Around

Avoid driving downtown. Cable cars are slow and scenic (single rides $6). MUNI streetcars and buses are faster but infrequent after 9pm (fares $2). BART (tickets from $1.75) run high-speed Bay Area trains. Taxis cost $2.75 per mile; meters start at $3.50.


Street parking is scarce and meter readers ruthless. Meters take coins, sometimes credit cards; central pay stations accept coins or cards. Overnight hotel parking averages $35 to $50; downtown parking garages start at $2.50 per hour or $25 per day.

Where to Eat

The Ferry Building, Mission District and South of Market (SoMa) are foodie faves. Don’t miss the city’s outdoor farmers markets either. Head to North Beach for Italian, Chinatown for dim sum, the Mission District for Mexican, and the Sunset or Richmond for pan-Asian.

Where to Stay

The Marina is near the family-friendly waterfront and Fisherman’s Wharf. Downtown and Union Square are more expensive, but conveniently located for walking. Avoid the rough-edged Civic Center and Tenderloin neighborhoods.

Useful Websites

San Francisco Travel (www.sanfrancisco.travel) Destination info, events calendar and accommodations bookings.

SF Station (www.sfstation.com) Nightlife, restaurants, shopping and the arts.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/san-francisco) Travel tips and travelers’ forums.

Click here

Destinations coverage: Click here



The only foreign phones that will work in the USA are GSM multiband models. Network coverage is often spotty in remote areas (eg mountains, deserts).


Wi-fi is available at most coffee shops and lodgings. Some accommodations have free guest computers. Cybercafes ($6 to $12 per hour) are common in cities.


Gas stations are everywhere, except in national parks and remote areas. Expect to pay $4 to $5 per US gallon.


Alamo (www.alamo.com)

Car Rental Express (www.carrentalexpress.com)

Simply Hybrid (www.simplyhybrid.com)

Zipcar (www.zipcar.com)


American Automobile Association 877-428-2277)

Emergencies 911)

Highway conditions 800-427-7623)

Traffic updates 511)

When to Go


High Season (Jun–Aug)

A Accommodations prices up 50% to 100%.

A Major holidays are even busier and more expensive.

A Summer is low season in the desert: temperatures exceed 100°F (38°C).

Shoulder Season (Apr–May & Sep–Oct)

A Crowds and prices drop, especially along the coast and in the mountains.

A Typically wetter in spring, drier in autumn.

A Milder temperatures and sunny, cloudless days.

Low Season (Nov–Mar)

A Accommodations rates drop in cities and by the coast.

A Many attractions open fewer days and shorter hours.

A Chilly temperatures and rainstorms; mudslides occasionally wash out coastal highways.

A In the mountains, carry tire chains; heavy snowfall closes higher-elevation roads.

A Winter is peak season in SoCal’s desert regions.

Daily Costs

Budget: less than $75

A Camping: $20–40

A Meals in roadside diners and cafes: $10–20

A Graze farmers markets for cheaper eats

A Hit the beach and find ‘free days’ at museums

Midrange: $75–200

A Two-star motel or hotel double room: $75–150

A Meals in casual and midrange restaurants: $20–40

A Theme-park admission: $40–100

Top end: over $200

A Three-star lodging: from $150 per night in high season, more for ocean views

A Three-course meal in top restaurant: $75 plus wine


Roadside diners & cafes Cheap and simple; abundant only outside cities.

Beach shacks Casual burgers, shakes and seafood meals with ocean views.

National, state & theme parks Mostly so-so, overpriced cafeteria-style or deli picnic fare.

Vegetarians Food restrictions and allergies can usually be catered for at restaurants.

Eating price indicators represent the average cost of a main dish:


Motels & hotels Ubiquitous along well-trafficked highways and in major tourist areas.

Camping & cabins Ranging from rustic campsites to luxury ‘glamping’ resorts.

B&Bs Quaint, romantic and pricey inns, found in most coastal and mountain towns.

Hostels Cheap and basic, but almost exclusively in cities.

Sleeping price indicators represent the average cost of a double room with private bathroom:

Arriving in California

Los Angeles International Airport

Rental cars Major companies offer shuttles to off-airport lots.

Door-to-door shared-ride shuttles $16 to $25 one-way (reservations recommended).

Taxis $30 to $50 plus tip to Santa Monica, Hollywood or Downtown LA; 30mins to one hour.

Buses Take Shuttle C (free) to LAX City Bus Center or Metro FlyAway bus ($7) to Downtown LA.

San Francisco International Airport

Rental cars Take free AirTrain blue line to SFO Rental Car Center.

Door-to-door shared-ride shuttles $15 to $18 one-way (reservations recommended).

Taxis $35 to $50 plus tip to most San Francisco neighborhoods; 30 to 50 minutes.

Train BART ($8.10, 30 minutes to downtown SF) leaves every 20 minutes (take free AirTrain from any terminal to BART station).


ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are accepted almost universally.


Tipping is expected, not optional. Standard tips: 18% to 20% in restaurants; 15% for taxis; $1 per drink in bars; $2 per bag for porters.

Opening Hours

Banks 8:30am–4:30pm Mon–Fri, some to 5:30pm Fri, 9am–12:30pm Sat

Business hours (general) 9am–5pm Mon–Fri

Post offices 9am–5pm Mon–Fri, some 9am–noon Sat

Restaurants 7am–10:30am, 11:30am–2:30pm & 5–9:30pm daily, some later Fri & Sat

Shops 10am–6pm Mon-Sat, noon–5pm Sun (malls open later)

Useful Websites

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/california) Destination info, hotel bookings, travelers’ forums and more.

California Travel and Tourism Commission (www.visitcalifornia.com) Multilingual trip-planning guides and an events calendar.

For more, see Driving in California

Road Trips

San Francisco, Marin & Napa Loop 4–5 Days

A taste of city, an eyeful of wildlife, plus the heady nectar of Wine Country.

Napa Valley 2–3 Days

Fabulous winery estates and celebrity chef restaurants grace this grand wine-producing region.

Sonoma Valley 2 Days

Tour this down-to-earth part of Wine Country and time-travel through historic Sonoma.

Russian River & the Bohemian Highway 2 Days

Meander ocean-bound back roads, float in the river and sample regional wines.

Point Reyes National Seashore (Click here)


San Francisco, Marin & Napa Loop

San Francisco

Marin Headlands


Muir Woods


Point Reyes

Glen Ellen


Napa Valley

San Francisco, Marin & Napa Loop

Loop your way around the Bay Area, drinking in the sights of hilly San Francisco, the stunning wild vistas of Marin and the world-renowned wineries of Napa Valley and Sonoma County.


4–5 DAYS

253 MILES/407KM



April to October for dry and warmer days.


Views of Alcatraz, the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge and shimmering San Francisco unfold from Conzelman Rd.


Feel small under the rocketing redwoods of Muir Woods.

Lombard St, San Francisco

Zigzag down ‘the world’s crookedest street’


San Francisco, Marin & Napa Loop

Begin by exploring the heady sights of cosmopolitan San Francisco before crossing north on the windswept passageway of the Golden Gate Bridge. From here, the scenery turns untamed, and Marin County’s undulating hills, redwood forest and crashing coastline prove a welcome respite from urban living. Continue north to Napa and Sonoma Wine Country, basking in the warmer temperatures and tasting some of the best wines in the state.

Top of Chapter

1 San Francisco

In two action-packed days, explore Golden Gate Park, spy on lolling sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf and saunter through the busy streets of Chinatown to the Italian sidewalk cafes in North Beach. Feast on an overstuffed burrito in the Mission District and then wander its mural-splashed alleys.

Queue up at Powell and Market Sts for a ride on a bell-clanging cable car (www.sfmta.com; ride $6), and then cruise to the infamous prison island of Alcatraz ferries depart Pier 33 every 30min 9am-3:55pm, plus 6:10pm & 6:45pm). In summer, book Alcatraz tickets online at least two weeks ahead.

At the foot of Market St, indulge your inner epicure at the food stalls in the Ferry Building (approximately 10am-6pm), and stop by its farmers market on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings year-round to wallow in the bounty of California-grown organic produce and gourmet prepared foods.

At the historic Castro Theatre 415-621-6120; www.castrotheatre.com; 429 Castro St; adult/child $11/8.50), the crowd goes wild when the giant organ rises from the floor and pumps out show tunes until the movie starts, and the sumptuous chandeliered decor complements a repertory of silver-screen classics.

The Drive » Aim north over the turret-topped Golden Gate Bridge, pausing to stroll around the Marin-side Vista Point area. Exit at Alexander Ave and bear left before swinging back under the highway to ascend the bayview ridgeline of Conzelman Rd. It’s 2 miles to Hawk Hill, located just before the road becomes one-way.


2 Napa Valley

From Napa, continue further north through Napa Valley along Hwy 29 for destination restaurants, a fabulous spa town and even more tempting wineries.

3 Sonoma Valley

Venture north or south from Glen Ellen along Hwy 12 for low-key wine tasting and the historic sights clustered in downtown Sonoma.

Top of Chapter


2 Marin Headlands

Near echoey WWII battery tunnels, bird-watchers should make a mandatory stop to hike up Hawk Hill. Thousands of migrating birds of prey soar here from late summer to early fall, straddling a windy ridge with views of Rodeo Lagoon all the way to Alcatraz.

Stay west on Conzelman Rd until it ends in about 2 miles and then bear left towards the bay. The third lighthouse built on the West Coast, the Point Bonita Lighthouse (was completed in 1855, but after complaints about its performance in fog, it was scooted down to the promontory about 20 years later. Three afternoons a week you can cross through a