As one of the country's liveliest and loveliest cities, San Francisco is a hard place to leave. But a visitor should save time to explore the many attractions outside the city, reached by crossing one of the San Francisco Bay bridges. Among the possibilities for an easy day's outing:
*Muir Woods National Monument: The tiny hillside park features cathedral-like groves of giant coastal redwoods, the world's tallest trees. A gentle loop trail lined with canyon ferns wanders through these majestic woods, less than 20 miles north of the city.
*Sausalito: A picturesque bayside village gone chic, just across Golden Gate Bridge, it is a popular place for lunch or weekend brunch. You can eat at one of several waterside restaurants catering to the sailing crowd or on the terrace of the Alta Mira Hotel, high on a hilltop above the village where the view is grand.
*Napa Valley: The most famous of California's fine wine-growing regions, Napa Valley welcomes samplers year-round. First-timers usually take a guided tour, followed by a taste, at one (or more) of the larger wineries along the main route through the valley. Wine buffs turn down one of the many side roads to smaller vineyards for more private tastings.
*Golden Gate National Recreation Area:sw,-1 sk,1 This large, sprawling park begins in San Francisco and continues across the Golden Gate Bridge and north up the coastline for several miles. In a matter of minutes after leaving the bustling city, you are in a rugged, wind-swept seascape of hidden beaches, small coves, rocky cliffs and quiet trails.
*Sonoma: This small wine-producing town, just north of San Francisco, retains much of its historic Spanish flavor. Adobe structures look out onto a large, tree-shaded plaza, where visitors often stop to picnic.
*Point Reyes National Seashore: Go for a look at California's craggy coastline, little touched from the year 1579, when the English explorer Sir Francis Drake landed here for repairs. Less than an hour's drive north of San Francisco, you can hike to secluded, sandy beaches, investigate tide pools or keep watch at Sea Lion Overlook for migrating gray whales just offshore.