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Adventure Guide: San Francisco Bay Area


The San Francisco Bay Area has it all. From incredible hiking adventures to world-renowned campgrounds, traveling in this region does not disappoint.

The San Francisco Bay Area spans nine counties, including 101 municipalities. Also, the region holds over seven million people. The area covers 6,900 square miles, featuring beautiful beaches, museums, restaurants, and tons of opportunities for soaking in the views.

As a van camper, there are several options for parking your ride and experiencing what this fantastic place has to offer. Campgrounds are found all over the region, providing the opportunity to see different environments and various types of terrain.

While the area has tons to offer, it can become extremely busy, especially during the summer. This is why we recommend booking those campground reservations early on to lock in your spot! As you may find some crowds, that doesn’t take away from the astonishing beauty you’ll witness.

In this post, we’ll explain the reasons why the San Francisco Bay Area is an excellent destination for van campers. We’ll talk about popular hiking trails, breathtaking beaches, famous restaurants, and what campgrounds to check out.

San Francisco Bay Area: A True Wonder in the West

When most people think of the Bay Area, they think of the Golden Gate Bridge. While the Bridge is a sight you should definitely see, the area has so much more to offer. From abundant wildlife and stunning beaches to incredible restaurants and museums, you can spend weeks in this area and never get tired of it.

While the region has plenty of residents, it wasn’t always this populated. In fact, the region’s inhabitants grew significantly during the California Gold Rush, which occurred in 1848–1855. Today, people continue to move to the area, and we can’t blame them. With so much to see and so much to do, it’s no wonder why the Bay Area is a top destination in the U.S.

Where to Stop Along the Journey

As you head out towards the region, there are some awesome spots to stop along the way.

Heading North

Those traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area often come from Southern California. If you’re passing through San Diego, be sure to stop at the many gorgeous beaches. If you cruise through Los Angeles, stopping by Santa Monica Pier is worth the trip.

Some other notable stops along the way include Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree. However, one area you can’t miss is Monterey, California. This remarkable town features the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which has an abundance of colorful fish and sea animals. You should also cruise down the 17-Mile Drive. This adventure travels across some of the most beautiful coastal lands in the country, decorated by Cypress trees and other unique vegetation.

Adventuring West

When driving west, you need to stop at Lake Tahoe. This lake features crystal clear water, epic swimming spots, and some incredible skiing/snowboarding. Yosemite is another must-see destination just hours from the Bay Area. Heading further east, you’ll find Moab, Utah and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, which are also ideal for adventure-seekers.

Traveling South

If you’re heading south, adventuring is always right outside your window. Seattle lines the northern edge of the country, with Mt. Rainer just miles away. Portland, Oregon also offers some cool spots worth stopping at.

Once you get into California, be sure to check out Lassen Volcanic National Park and Mt. Shasta, which feature amazing views and tons of campgrounds. You should also stop by Burney Falls to see an epic waterfall.

Endless Activities in the Bay Area

No matter what you enjoy, the San Francisco Bay Area has something for you. Here’s what to expect in this one-of-a-kind region:


If you’re looking for top-notch scenery, this area delivers. Just north of San Francisco, you’ll find wine country, featuring beautiful mountain views surrounding several wine vineyards. Another sight to see is the Golden Gate Bridge, located right next to Golden Gate National Recreation Area.


Campgrounds are found all over this region. Some top spots to check out include Point Reyes, Bodega Bay, and Sonoma Coast State Park. In fact, some sweet camping spots are located right on the beach! This entire region is ideal for the van-camping lifestyle.


There’s also a plethora of hiking trails to enjoy. Point Reyes is a popular location, offering trails for all ability levels. There are trails on the beach, some overlooking the ocean, or ones packed in magical forests.


Exploring the many beaches in the area is also a must. Baker Beach, Ocean Beach, and Muir Beach are some of the top places on the coast. You can also take a backpacking trip to some secluded beach destinations!


If you’re into delicious food and drink, this area has it all. Be sure to check out Angele Restaurant & Bar in Napa, Brenda’s French Soul Food in San Francisco, or Cafe Brasil in Santa Cruz.

Travel Tips

Here are some travel tips for enjoying this area to the fullest:

1. Watch out for traffic
Did we mention the San Fran Bay Area has over seven million people? That said, traffic can be hectic at times. Try to avoid rush hour, plan your route, and consider getting around on a bike when you can.
2. Understand where you’re going
As the roads here can be busy, they can also get pretty confusing in a hurry. Make sure to understand where you’re headed and learn the route before you drive.
3. Book campgrounds and activities early
Campgrounds can fill up in a hurry, especially at the area’s most popular campgrounds. If you want to book that epic camping spot on the coast, plan ahead and book ASAP!


Check out these locations to some of the most legendary spots in the Bay:


Kirby Cove Campground: 948 Fort Barry, Sausalito, CA 94965
Steep Ravine: Rocky Point Rd, Stinson Beach, CA 94970
Spanish Flat RV Resort: 4290 Knoxville Rd, Napa, CA 94558
Coast Campground: Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground: 2591 Graham Hill Rd, Scotts Valley, CA 95060

Hiking Trails

Chimney Rock: Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Batteries to Bluffs Trail: Battery to Bluffs Trail, San Francisco, CA 94129


Cotogna: 490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Tannya’s Taqueria: 1601 Jefferson St, Napa, CA 94559

Hidden Gems

Here are some off-the-beaten-path destinations that tend to have fewer people:

• Pistachio Beach
• Burton Beach
• Point Reyes Cypress Tree Tunnel
• Corona Heights Park
• Seward Street Slides

Enjoy the Bay in Your Brand New Campervan!

Having a decked-out campervan for your Bay Area adventures can make all the difference. Live in luxury while several experiences are right outside your door!

Here at Rec Van, we carry a wide selection of campervans designed for road warriors like you. Check out our campervan options today!