Pleasant Hill is the perfect basecamp for your California adventures.
Located in the Bay Area and NoCal, there is no shortage of places to explore and things to do in Pleasant Hill. Check out this list of the 7 best day trips nearby.
1. John Muir National Historic Site
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 6 Miles
Just 6 miles down the road from Pleasant Hill is the place to be for history buffs and naturalists: John Muir National Historic Site. There is plenty to learn about John Muir's life and legacy. This attraction offers both professionally guided tours and self-guided cell phone tours. One of the most popular tours they offer is The Muir/Strentzel Family Gravesite Tour, which explores the resting place of John Muir and his family. Guides will teach you about what this family accomplished when they were alive and what they left behind. You can also visit the Martinez Adobe and learn the history of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, which was an expedition that led over 240 people up the coast of California in the late 1700s. If you are looking for something more laid back, the John Muir National Historic Site is also ideal for a picnic under the orchards or a hike through the hills.
2. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor & Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 2 Miles (Hurricane Harbor) & 20 Miles (Discovery Kingdom)
If rollercoasters, waterparks, and animal attractions are more your speed, Pleasant Hill is close to two thrilling amusement parks. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (2 miles from Pleasant Hill) and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (20 Miles from Pleasant Hill) are perfect for a day of family fun and adventure. Hurricane Harbor is your spot to stop on warmer days. The park is full of water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers that will be sure to cool you off and help you create new memories with your friends and family. On cooler days, Discover Kingdom is the place to be. Discovery Kingdom is a 135-acre animal-themed park that features tons of rollercoasters, rides, and animal attractions where you can interact with animals such as sharks, giraffes, penguins, and more. This park also offers a few water rides just in case you can’t make it to Hurricane Harbor.
3. Mt. Diablo
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 17 Miles
Mt. Diablo is known for its stunning views and popular hiking trails. The best way to experience Mt. Diablo is to get there early, pack snacks and plenty of water, and make sure you are properly dressed. It gets windy on the way up, so a jacket and close-toed shoes are the way to go if you plan on hitting the trails. Despite Mt. Diablo’s relatively low elevation, this peak still offers sweeping views of the Bay Area and, on clear days, Yosemite and San Francisco. There are tons of interesting plant life and wildlife to see from Mt. Diablo as well, so bring your binoculars. You may even see horses on the trails as equestrians travel the mountain. As autumn emerges, you can even take a “Tarantula Hike” and search the mountain for the harmless, hairy little creatures with other hikers. The Rock City area is full of boulders and breathtaking rock formations that are waiting to be seen, so there is no doubt you should gather your family and spend the day exploring Mt. Diablo State Park.
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 18 Miles
Berkeley is more than just a college town. Less than 30 minutes from Pleasant Hill, you will find a culturally diverse city with eccentric shops, gorgeous views, remarkable restaurants, and so much more. Spend the day interacting with nature and animals at Tilden Nature Area & Little Farm, have fun with science at Lawrence Hall of Science, and enjoy cuisine from Berkeley’s top restaurants and food artisans. There’s plenty to do no matter what your interests may be, so get in the car and head over to Berkeley for an unforgettable day of fun and adventure.
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 19 Miles
Gain views of the greater Bay Area and explore unique cultures and communities when you head over to Oakland, CA. Known for its arts and culture, lively neighborhoods, and the remarkable natural landmark Lake Merritt, this city makes for a perfect day trip from Pleasant Hill. There are plenty of family-friendly activities, including interacting with wildlife at Oakland Zoo, spending a whimsical afternoon at Children’s Fairyland, and participating in hands-on learning at Chabot Space and Science Center. There are also dozens of acclaimed restaurants to dine at and plenty of shops to check out. If you’re looking for a more outdoorsy kind of day, Oakland also has excellent canoeing and kayaking opportunities, golf courses, and hiking trails that take you through groves of redwoods, oaks, and more.
6. San Francisco
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 27 Miles
Only a short distance from Pleasant Hill is one of the most vibrant big cities on the west coast. It is no secret that it takes more than a day to experience all the magic of San Francisco, but a day trip is certainly enough to get a taste. We suggest heading over to Golden Gate Park to see the bridge up close. There is so much history and pop culture tied to the Golden Gate Bridge you will not want to miss seeing it in person. Alcatraz is another famous spot with tons of history. This small island just offshore from San Francisco was once used as a penitentiary where some of the most infamous criminals were kept. Alcatraz offers educational tours where you and your family can learn all about the prisoners and the history of the American criminal justice system. Fisherman’s Wharf is another popular destination in the city, providing its visitors with waterfront views, fresh seafood, ferry tours, and access to aquatic animals at Aquarium of the Bay.
After a long day of exploring, you will want to check out the incredible food scene in San Francisco. There are hundreds of unique restaurants to choose from in the area, so no matter what you are in the mood for, there is a spot for you to stop. After dinner, we recommend hitting some of San Francisco’s bars to experience the exciting nightlife the city is known for.
7. Napa Valley
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 36 Miles
Looking for some one on one time? Napa Valley is a short drive from Pleasant Hill and is perfect for some quiet time or a romantic getaway with a loved one. Immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery, attend a wine tasting, and head to one of Napa Valley’s spas to unwind and relax. If you’re staying for dinner, there are dozens of restaurants and Wine & Dine events to choose from. You can also head to one of the valley’s farmers’ markets where you can purchase locally produced and prepared food for a serene picnic in the park.
8. Grizzly Island Wildlife Area
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 37 Miles
Want to get in touch with nature? Just 45 minutes from Pleasant Hill sits Grizzly Island Wildlife Area where you can hike, fish, hunt, and hit the water. Home to more than 200 species of birds, plants, and other wildlife, there is plenty to observe and enjoy in the park. The wildlife area is open from sunrise to sunset, so you have all day to spend exploring Grizzly Island. A self-guided tour is available at the entrance where you are required to check in. The tour is about seven and a half miles long, so make sure you bring water and sunblock, and wear close-toed shoes. If you are interested in birding while at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, we recommend bringing your binoculars to get a better view of the park’s diverse species.
9. Point Reyes National Seashore
Distance from Pleasant Hill: 57 Miles
Spending a day at Point Reyes National Seashore is the ultimate way to connect with nature. We suggest making your first stop at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Here you can be introduced to the shoreline with a quick tour of the center’s ecological and historical exhibits, a visit to the weather station, and a look at educational videos and slideshows. Once you have stopped at the visitor center, the sky's the limit. Point Reyes is known for its great birding, hiking trails, horseback riding, and gorgeous views of the water. Please note that while swimming is permitted, there are no lifeguards on duty. The Morgan Horse Ranch is open to the public seven days a week and offers plenty of information on the history of the Morgan horse, the ranch, horse training, and horseback riding.
The staff are super friendly and can answer any questions you may have about the horses living in Point Reyes. If you love animals and want to see more up close, we suggest heading to the beaches and meeting the incredible whales and elephant seals that live there. Though you can’t get too close, watching these animals in their natural habitat is a unique experience you will be sure to remember for a long time.
When you stay in Pleasant Hill, you will have access to the best wildlife areas, thrilling attractions, and exciting day trips in California. For more information, feel free to reach out on our About page.