We live in one of the most photographed cities in the world, but city dwellers have a tendency to forget the unparalleled, natural beauty sitting just outside the man-made structures of San Fran proper. Remind yourself why your East Coast friends are jealous of your Nor Cal life by taking a good, long look at it. Escape the city to visit national parks, restaurants, and vineyards for spectacular views of the landscape.
Here, the 10 best views in the Bay Area.
1. Work for it: Mount Tamalpais | Panoramic Highway | Mill Valley
In exchange for a light dosage of blood, sweat, and tears, Mt. Tam offers a stunning bird’s eye view of redwood forests, oak groves, and the huge, glittering ocean. Hike or bike to the summit. (mttam.net, parks.ca.gov)
Directions Take Golden Gate Transit Bus 92 toward Manzanita. Get off in Marin City at Donahue and Terners and transfer to Marin Transit Bus 61 toward Brighton Avenue. Get off at Panoramic Highway and Pan Toll Road.
2. The great escape: River’s End | 11048 Highway 1 | Jenner-by-the-Sea
Named for the place where the Russian River meets the Pacific, this unassuming bluff-top restaurant and inn on the Sonoma Coast reminds us that California is paradise. (ilovesunsets.com)
Directions Because of its secluded locale, driving is the only way to get there. Consult the map below for directions.
3. Fired up: La Costanera | 8150 Cabrillo Highway | Montara
The only thing better than the Michelin-rated Peruvian cuisine at this gorgeous Half Moon Bay restaurant is the beachfront deck, replete with fire pits. (lacostanerarestaurant.com)
Directions Take BART to the Daly City station and transfer to SamTrans bus number 110. At the Linda Mar stop, transfer to SamTrans bus 294 and get off at 2nd Street. (Visit samtrans.com for more information.)
4. Vine in the sky: Sterling Vineyards | 1111 Dunaweal Lane | Calistoga
Gondola rides, Napa Valley’s rolling hills, and world-class vino. Need we say more? (sterlingvineyards.com)
Directions Hop aboard the Baylink Vallejo ferry, and then take the Napa VINE route 10 bus to Calistoga.
5. Adrenaline rush: Indian Rock Park | 950 Indian Rock Avenue | Berkeley
Beginner and veteran rock climbers alike will go gonzo for Berkeley’s magnificent, craggy rock outcrop. But be careful: If the climb doesn’t halt your breath, the views might. (ci.berkeley.ca.us)
Directions Take BART to the Downtown Berkeley station. Walk to Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, and take bus number 18 toward Albany. Get off at Sutter Street and Hopkins Street and walk north to Indian Rock Avenue.
6. Dine at the top of the world: Meritage at The Claremont | 41 Tunnel Road | Berkeley
From its post in the Oakland Hills, this opulent restaurant offers a wine-driven menu and some of the best views imaginable. (meritageclaremont.com)
Directions Take BART to the Rockridge station. Take Bus 49 to Claremont and Ashby and walk to Tunnel Road.
7. The deck out: Horizons Restaurant | 558 Bridgeway | Sausalito
Terrible puns aside, sipping a Bloody Mary on this sun-drenched deck is your recipe for a perfect weekend afternoon. (horizonssausalito.com)
Directions Take the Golden Gate ferry to Sausalito.
8. Drink it all in: Silverado Vineyards | 6121 Silverado Trail | Napa
Drink fine wines on the terraces of this lovely winery, where views of Napa Valley abound. (silveradovineyards.com)
Directions Take the Baylink ferry to Vallejo and catch the Napa VINE route 10 bus to Yountville.
9. Rock out: Greek Theatre | 2001 Gayley Road | Berkeley
This impressive amphitheater on the UC Berkeley campus draws the big bands for its incredible acoustics, but we’re pretty sure the fans love the views just as much. (calperformances.org)
Directions Take BART (Richmond line) to the Downtown Berkeley stop and make your way through the campus. (You can also catch bus 52 at University and Shattuck and take it to Gayley Road.) The theater is just off Gayley Road.
10. Golden Gate gazer: The Caprice | 2000 Paradise Drive | Tiburon
Offering misty views of the Golden Gate Bridge and French/Italian cuisine, this small Tiburon restaurant is a treat. (thecaprice.com)
Directions Take the Blue and Gold Fleet ferry to Tiburon. Walk east along the coast to the restaurant.
Photos: River’s End by Jenny Fafa, MiguelVieira, La Costanera, Sterling Vineyards