Six Super Bowl Side Trips

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

The NFL is celebrating Super Bowl 50 and the Bay Area couldn’t be a more perfect place to hold such a monumental game.

Although San Francisco will garner much of the national attention as the host city, the game itself will actually be played at Levi’s Stadium in nearby Santa Clara. Whether you’re in town to cheer on the Carolina Panthers or the Denver Broncos, there is no debate over the fact that some extra time should be spent to explore and experience one of the most naturally beautiful regions in all of America. Here are six destinations within a few hours of Santa Clara that are worthy of extending your stay after the big game is over or visiting to escape the Super Bowl Week crowds.

San Francisco

The City by the Bay is the obvious first choice to visit. Many events and festivities will be held throughout the city during Super Bowl Week, but the crowds should clear as fans head home to either prepare for a victory parade or wallow in defeat.

Between sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the famous cable car rides, and photo ops of the Painted Ladies, there is no shortage of sights to keep you entertained for days. Be sure to head down to the northern waterfront where you can enjoy many seafood restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf, board old sea vessels at Hyde Street Pier, listen to the sounds of sea lions at Pier 39, and catch a ferry over to the famous Alcatraz Island.

Drive Time: 1 Hour

San Francisco, California

Monterey Peninsula

Comprised of the cities of Monterey, Carmel, and Pacific Grove, the Monterey Peninsula is home to some of the most beautiful sights you’ll see in all of California. The scenic 17-Mile Drive will have you passing stunning views of the Lone Cypress, beautiful beaches, lavish mansions, and the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. One day alone could be spent in Monterey with the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium, the shops and restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row, many historic cathedrals, and a stop at Dennis the Menace Park for the kids.

Drive Time: 1½ Hours

Monterey Peninsula, California

Big Sur

Widely considered to be one of the most scenic drives in all of America, the Big Sur portion of the Pacific Coast Highway is not to be missed. Beginning just south of the Monterey Peninsula, set aside at least one day to adequately enjoy the stunning ocean views, unique beaches, and gorgeous state parks. A few highlights include the breathtaking views from atop the Bixby Creek Bridge, the mysterious purple sand and Keyhole Rock at Pfeiffer Beach, McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and the Henry Miller Memorial Library. I highly recommend a stop at Nepenthe for lunch or dinner, not just for the food but the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean from the outdoor dining terrace.

Drive Time: 2 Hours

Big Sur Attractions

Pfeiffer Beach Purple Sand along Big Sur

Muir Woods National Monument

Only 12 miles north of San Francisco and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods is a great alternative to traveling all the way to the more famous Redwood National Park. Set on 560 acres, the National Monument has many paved walking trails and ranger-led activities. If you’ve always wanted to see the magnificent redwood trees in person, then Muir Woods is the perfect side trip!

Drive Time: 1½ Hours

Muir Woods National Monument

Point Reyes National Seashore

A magnificent lighthouse. Hiking trails. A tree tunnel. Stunning coastline views. And a shipwreck. Need I say more? Okay, technically the Point Reyes shipwreck is located in the nearby town of Inverness, but all of these experiences await at the Point Reyes National Seashore. While a full day is needed to experience all that Point Reyes has to offer, do not leave without seeing the stunning cypress tree lined road that leads to the historic KPH public coast radio station and the surprisingly picturesque Point Reyes shipwreck. Your Instagram feed will thank you!

Drive Time: 2 Hours

Point Reyes Shipwreck & Pyramid Rock

Verve Coffee Roasters, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

Nearly any city along the Northern California coast will be filled with character and natural beauty, but Santa Cruz stands out from the rest. First on your list of stops has to be the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park dating back to 1907 and one of the few seaside parks along the entire West Coast. You’ll also find fun and adventure at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and Natural Bridges State Park, known for sightings of monarch butterfly migrations. Santa Cruz also has a vibrant downtown area filled with trendy restaurants, coffee shops, and bars.

Drive Time: 45 Minutes


Did you like it? Pin it!

Six Super Bowl Side Trips