Skip to Content

11 Incredible National Parks Near San Francisco

A red suspension bridge crosses a bay. Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the national parks near San Francisco.

Unsplash/Natalie Chaney

San Francisco, California is a great destination for national park travelers. Within an hour of the city, you’ll find 9 sites managed by the National Park Service. Additionally, there are two national parks near San Francisco that are just a few hours away. This adds up to 11 national parks near San Francisco, offering amazing opportunities for outdoor recreation and learning compelling history. 

This post was updated on July 19, 2021. This page contains affiliate links.

Visiting the National Parks Near San Francisco

A hand holding a black camera while taking a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge

Unsplash/Greg Rakozy

It’s important to plan ahead when visiting the San Francisco national parks! Many require reservations for parking and/or shuttles. Currently, reservations are required for four of the national parks near San Francisco on this list. If you wish to visit Alcatraz Island, reservations are required for five. Get your reservations early to avoid any headaches! 

Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site

A white house set on a green lawn

NPS Photo

Eugene O’Neill is America’s only Nobel Prize-winning playwright. He wrote some of his most famous works, such as Long Day’s Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh, here in this home. He chose to live here during the height of his career for the solitude and isolation. His final plays were also written here.

How to Get There: There is a mandatory park shuttle to access the private roads to the park. Reservations are required. More details here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Courtyards, ranger-guided tours

Park Entrance Fee: None; the park shuttle is also free.

Where to StayBest WesternExtended Stay AmericaHyatt HouseDiablo Mountain Inn

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (925) 838-0249 x6320

Fort Point National Historic Site

A red brick fort below a red suspension bridge covered in fog

Undoubtedly, when you think of San Francisco you picture red bridges, hills, and trolleys. The city is much more than that, and its history is incredible. Thankfully, much of it is protected as part of the national parks near San Francisco. Here, you can learn more about that history at Fort Point National Historic Site, where the San Francisco Bay was defended during World War II. The red brick fort also provides gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay.

How to Get There: You can find Fort Point at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. More details are available here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do:  Ranger-guided tours

Park Entrance Fee: None

Where to StayInn at Golden GateGreenwich InnHoward JohnsonComfort InnCavallo PointArgonaut HotelHoliday Inn

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (415) 561-4959

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

An old prison on an island. Alcatraz is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the national parks near San Francisco

Near the most famous bridge on the West Coast of the United States is a recreation area teeming with outdoor recreation opportunities. While enjoying the great outdoors, you can also learn about California’s indigenous cultures and their histories here. The park also includes Alcatraz Island, the famous prison off the coast of San Francisco.

If you have a dog (or dogs), this is also known as one of the most dog-friendly national parks. Golden Gate is also the largest urban national park in the entire world. Protecting 28 miles of coastline, the park itself is about 2.5 times larger than San Francisco. 

Finally, it’s also the most visited of all the national parks near San Francisco and the national parks in California.

How to Get There: There are many different areas of the park, spread over 60 miles of coastline near San Francisco. Detailed directions can be found here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Camping, festivals, hiking, ranger programs, wildlife viewing

Park Entrance Fee: None, however, you do need to purchase tickets if you wish to visit Alcatraz Island.

Where to StayInn at Golden GateGreenwich InnHoward JohnsonComfort InnCavallo PointArgonaut HotelHoliday Inn

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (415) 561-4700

John Muir National Historic Site

A white house surrounded by palm trees

NPS/Luther Bailey

Many consider John Muir to be one of the founding fathers of the National Park Service. He fought long and hard for protections for places that have become some of the most prominent national parks in California, most notably Yosemite National Park. This National Historic Site preserves his home and many of his belongings in a place that shaped him and his nature-loving spirit. He wrote many of his best works here while raising his family.

How to Get There: The visitor center is located at 4202 Alhambra Ave, Martinez, CA 94553. More directions are here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Guided tours, hiking, museum, ranger programs

Park Entrance Fee: None

Where to StayMuir Lodge MotelQuality InnSuper 8Best Western

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (925) 228-8860

Muir Woods National Monument

A group of hikers on a trail beneath towering redwood trees in Muir Woods, one of the national parks near San Francisco

One of America’s very first national monuments, Muir Woods protects a grove of coastal redwoods outside San Francisco. It’s one of the best places to see these enormous trees, and therefore one of the busiest national parks near San Francisco. There are few places left near the bustling city where you can see these rare trees. Additionally, the park is a great refuge for more plants and animals, including salmon and trout.

How to Get ThereReservations and a park shuttle ride are required to visit the park. More information can be found here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Hiking

Park Entrance Fee: $15 per person; this is in addition to any parking and shuttle fees.

Where to StayMill Valley InnMuir Woods LodgeHoliday InnTravelodge

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (415) 561-2850

Pinnacles National Park

A lake surrounded by rocks

NPS/Rebecca Ouvry

One of the newest National Parks, Pinnacles was a national monument for 100 years before its designation was elevated in 2013. Here, you’ll find rare talus caves among towering rock spires and ancient volcanoes. Thanks to those volcanoes and their eruptions, the landscape at Pinnacles National Park is unlike any other, shaped and formed by lava. Don’t forget to look up; you might see a California condor soaring overhead.

How to Get There: Pinnacles is very remote and you should not rely on GPS. More information is available here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Birding, caving, climbing, hiking

Park Entrance Fee: $30 per vehicle or $15 per individual, valid for 7 days

Where to StayValley Harvest InnHollister InnPosada de San JuanFairfield Inn

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (831) 389-4486

Point Reyes National Seashore

A white lighthouse with a red roof on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Point Reyes National Seashore is one of the national parks near San Francisco.

NPS Photo

Point Reyes is one of the best places to visit in all the national parks near San Francisco to discover the Pacific Ocean’s marine life. Here, you could see massive Elephant seals mating or nursing their pups on the beaches. Furthermore, look out into the water to try and spot whales migrating north or south. Not interested in wildlife, or visiting during the wrong time of year? Relax on the beach, visit the lighthouse, or take a boat out on the water.

How to Get There: Point Reyes is north of San Francisco and west of the Pacific Coast Highway along the California coastline. Detailed directions can be found here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Backpacking, beaches, boating, cycling, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, ranger programs, wildlife viewing

Park Entrance Fee: None, however, some activities may incur a cost.

Where to StayHI Point ReyesOlema HousePoint Reyes Vineyard Inn

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (415) 464-5100

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

An American flag waves above an oceanside memorial

NPS/Luther Bailey

During World War II, the worst home front disaster occurred just outside of San Francisco on July 17, 1944. Tragedy struck when two naval ships being loaded with ammunition exploded. That night, 320 men were killed instantly. Across the bay in San Francisco, thousands were awoken by the explosion, some with broken windows due to the force, as the sky lit up in flames. Today, a memorial stands to remember the lives lost.

How to Get There: Visitors are required to park at John Muir National Historic Site and take a shuttle to visit the memorial. Reservations are required and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance. More information is available here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Guided tours

Park Entrance Fee: None

Where to StayMuir Lodge MotelQuality InnSuper 8Best WesternCrowne PlazaHilton

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (925) 228-8860 x6520

Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park

A metal sculpture on a sidewalk

NPS/Luther Bailey

This national park memorializes the work and sacrifice of American citizens during World War II. Many different stories are told and paint a unique picture. It’s one that includes turmoil, loss, and triumph all in one. Look for the National Park Service’s oldest park ranger, Betty Reid Soskin, when you visit.

How to Get There: Located in the San Francisco area, directions to the visitor center in Richmond are here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Museum, visitor center

Park Entrance Fee: None

Where to StaySureStayHotel MacHoliday Inn

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (510) 232-5050

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

A historic tall ship at dock

San Francisco Maritime is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood. You can’t miss this massive fleet of historic ships in the harbor. During your visit, you’ll be able to completely immerse yourself in the past by taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of maritime history. Climb aboard one of the ships with a park ranger to see for yourself!

How to Get There: The park is located near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. For more information, click here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Historic ships, museum

Park Entrance Fee: $15 per person, valid for 7 days

Where to StayInn at Golden GateGreenwich InnHoward JohnsonComfort InnCavallo PointArgonaut HotelHoliday Inn

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (415) 561-7000

Yosemite National Park

The purple sunset over Yosemite, one of the national parks near San Francisco, shines its colors on Half Dome

Unsplash/Leo Serrat

One of the most famous and popular national parks near San Francisco, Yosemite is one of the crown jewels of the U.S. National Park Service. Millions of visitors flock here every year to take in the vistas and hike to remote wilderness areas. Yosemite could be one of the most magical natural resources you’ll ever visit if you can avoid the crowds. Areas like Tuolumne Meadows and Hetch Hetchy provide temporary relief from the overcrowded Yosemite Valley.

How to Get There: There are many ways to get to Yosemite, detailed here.

Mapdownload here

Things to Do: Backpacking, biking, birding, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, ranger programs, rock climbing, scenic drives, water activities, winter activities

Park Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle or $20 per individual, valid for 7 days

Where to StayTenayaHalf DomeBest Western Plus

Official Websiteclick here

Speak to a Park Ranger: Call (209) 372-0200

Pin the National Parks Near San Francisco

The national parks near San Francisco showcase an amazing variety. From outdoor recreation to fascinating history, there is always something to explore. | National Parks Near San Francisco California The national parks near San Francisco showcase an amazing variety. From outdoor recreation to fascinating history, there is always something to explore. | National Parks Near San Francisco California The national parks near San Francisco showcase an amazing variety. From outdoor recreation to fascinating history, there is always something to explore. | National Parks Near San Francisco California The national parks near San Francisco showcase an amazing variety. From outdoor recreation to fascinating history, there is always something to explore. | National Parks Near San Francisco California

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.