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San Rafael

The location

Student life


Day and Weekend Trips

Please use the menu below to see what sightseeing, shopping, entertainment and dining options are available in San Rafael.

There are dozens of interesting places and attractions that can be visited easily from San Rafael. If you want to plan a day trip, go and see the Napa Valley with its numerous wineries and beautiful scenery. Or why not take a weekend trip to the world famous Yosemite National Park!

napa valley

The Napa Valley

If you are interested in wine, there is no better place to visit than Napa Valley! About 60 kilometers northeast of San Rafael, Napa Valley has hundreds of wineries that offer wine tasting and free tours.

But there is more in Napa Valley: Calistoga is famous for its hot springs, massages and hot air balloons; and there are outlet stores in Napa (take the First Street exit) and many fabulous restaurants.

point reyes

Point Reyes

Point Reyes starts about 40 km west of San Rafael, and it's a stunning drive of about one hour through West Marin to get there.

Here you will find beautiful hikes, an educational earthquake trail (by the visitor center), a fascinating lighthouse (you may be able to spot some whales), an oyster farm, an outdoor museum and California's rugged coast line.



Approximately 340 kilometers east of San Rafael, Yosemite is a spectacular national park best known for its many waterfalls, its sequoia tree grove and its stunning views.

Yosemite Valley can get very crowded, especially in summer. If you want to get away from the crowds, visit Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite's upper part. You may even see a bear!!

Farallon Islands

Farallon Islands

The Farallon Islands are a beautiful, rugged group of uninhabited islands about 45 kilometers off the Golden Gate Bridge.

The islands are home to thousands of birds, sea lions and many other animals; there are also whales and dolphins. Several tour operators offer day trips.

Monterey and Santa Cruz

Monterey and Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is 150 kilometers south of San Rafael, Monterey is an additional 60 kilometers further south. A visit here could be a day trip or a weekend trip. The coastal drive is beautiful.

If you have time, stop at Ano Nuevo to see the elephant seals. Santa Cruz has a beautiful beach and the famous beach boardwalk. Monterrey is home to one of the world's most famous aquariums.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

About 290 kilometers northeast of San Rafael (roughly a 3 hour drive), Lake Tahoe is a beautiful lake in the Sierra Nevada. There is fabulous skiing in winter and spring (our favorite ski area is Heavenly Valley which offers stunning views of Lake Tahoe and the Nevada desert) and lots of water sports and hiking in summer.

On the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe are a number of large casinos with great restaurants and shows.