Yes, San Francisco is an amazing city (my favorite, actually), but if you've traveled all the way out here, you might as well take in more of gorgeous Northern California. Here are 10 places you should see -- none of them more than a 2-hour drive from the city -- plus tips on what to do and, should you decide to sleep over, where to stay.
1. Napa Valley. The world-famous wine-producing region beckons oenophiles.
What to do: Visit the new Cade Winery (www.cadewinery.com), enjoy a gourmet picnic along the Silverado Trail, get a spa treatment, or take a hot-air balloon ride.
Where to stay: Calistoga Ranch (www.calistogaranch.com), which has outdoors-inspired luxury, or the lovely Cottages of Napa Valley (www.napacottages.com).
2. Sonoma. This charming, historical town is surrounded by a valley filled with hundreds of excellent wineries and tranquil spas.
What to do: See California's birthplace, Mission San Francisco Solano, dine at a lovely restaurant called The General's Daughter (www.thegeneralsdaughter.com) and sip wine at any of the plaza's many tasting rooms.
Where to stay: Chic El Dorado Hotel (www.eldoradosonoma.com) or cozy Lodge at Sonoma (www.eldoradosonoma.com).
3. Healdsburg. This upscale Sonoma County town is full of tasting rooms, fine restaurants and adorable shops.
What to do: Peruse Plaza Farms (www.plazafarms.com), sip at Cellar 360 (www.cellar360.com) and explore Healdsburg Museum; reserve dinner for Cyrus (www.cyrusrestaurant.com), Sonoma Valley's star restaurant.
Where to stay: Les Mars (www.lesmarshotel.com), a gorgeously appointed French-style inn, or the more affordable, country-style MacArthur Place (www.macarthurplace.com).
4. Mendocino. Rugged coastline meets majestic redwoods -- with elite wineries thrown in for good measure.
What to do: Stroll the unspoiled beaches, taste wine in Anderson Valley or visit Mendocino Botanical Gardens.
Where to stay: Intimate, idyllic Stevenswood Spa Resort (www.stevenswood.com).
5. Santa Cruz. In this seaside town, the politics are liberal, the surf is fierce and the vibe is simultaneously hip and quaint.
What to do: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (www.beachboardwalk.com), the Mystery Spot (www.mysteryspot.com), Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and a tour of UC Santa Cruz.
Where to stay: Casablanca Inn (www.casablanca-santacruz.com) offers ocean-view rooms, free breakfast and free Wi-Fi.
6. Monterey. Steinbeck's seaside setting makes for a perfect getaway.
What to do: Spend time at the acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium (www.mbayaq.org), take the incredibly scenic 17-Mile Drive, amble Cannery Row, and see nearby Carmel.
Where to stay: The brand-new InterContinental the Clement Monterey (www.ichotelsgroup.com).
7. Sacramento. California's capital city never fails to impress.
What to do: See the Capitol, dine at an excellent restaurant called 55 Degrees (www.restaurant55.com), and visit waterfront Old Sacramento, an Old Western-style district that's a hit with kids.
Where to stay: The Sheraton Grand (www.sheraton.com/sacramento) and Embassy Suites (www.embassysuites.com) provide for a comfortable stay.
8. Davis. A cute college town, Davis boasts delightful restaurants, boutiques and tree-lined scenery -- plus world-class intelligentsia.
What to do: Tour the UC Davis campus, catch a performance at its Mondavi Center (www.mondaviarts.org) and dine at a great restaurant called Bistro 33 (www.bistro33.com), which occupies the former city hall building.
Where to stay: The well-manicured University Park Inn & Suites (www.universityparkinn.com) or the affordable, centrally located Hallmark Inn (www.hallmarkinn.com).
9. Palo Alto. The home of Stanford University and many tech geniuses.
What do to: Tour the campus, then head to University Ave. to stroll the shops and try the restaurants.
Where to stay: The upscale Four Seasons East Palo Alto (www.fourseasons.com).
10. Tri-Valley. Encompassing the towns of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville, this region offers something for everyone.
What to do: Head up iconic Mount Diablo, try one of Livermore Valley's 45 wineries or enjoy mini-golf, go-karts, and Lazer Tag at Boomers (www.boomersparks.com).
Where to stay: Pleasanton's pretty Rose Hotel (www.rosehotel.net) or Danville's Best Western Sycamore Inn (www.bestwestern.com).
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