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The City by the Bay is, without question, captivating, but don't let it ensnare you to the point of ignoring its environs. The surrounding region offers beautiful natural areas such as Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods, scenic bayside communities such as Tiburon and Sausalito, and vibrant neighboring cities such as Oakland and Berkeley.

From San Francisco, you can reach any of these points in an hour or less by car. Public transportation options are also listed throughout the chapter. Another option is to hitch a ride with San Francisco Sightseeing (tel. 888/428-6937 or 415/434-8687; www.sanfranciscosightseeing.com), which runs regularly scheduled bus tours to neighboring towns and the countryside. Half-day trips to Muir Woods and Sausalito, and full-day trips to Napa and Sonoma are available, as are excursions to Yosemite and the Monterey Peninsula. Phone for prices and schedules.