2021 Toyota C-HR on a road

Day trip destinations from Palo Alto, CA 

What cities can we visit around the Palo Alto area? 

If you have a free day sometime soon, why not visit one of the best cities near Palo Alto, CA? Keep reading below to learn more about your options. Of course, you can always visit Magnussen’s Toyota for an oil change before your day trip.  

Cities worth visiting within a day trip of Palo Alto, CA 

There are so many cities worth exploring around Palo Alto, CA. Most of us have been to San Jose, but that’s the place to start. Other nearby destinations include San Francisco and Santa Cruz, while further destinations include Fresno and Sacramento. Check out these four cities below. 

San Francisco, CA from Palo Alto, CA: 45 minutes 

Under an hour’s drive isn’t much of a day trip, but we’re lucky enough to be located near the wonderful city of San Francisco, and we couldn’t skip on giving this city a mention. It’s easy to spend a day here, shopping, eating, sightseeing, exploring, and relaxing. San Francisco has something for everyone. We recommend booking a tour of Alcatraz, a closed-down island prison, in advance, and planning a day trip around your tour. Book an early tour, spend the afternoon at Fisherman’s Wharf, and finish the day at the nearby Exploratorium Museum.  

Santa Cruz, CA from Palo Alto, CA: 1 hour 

Santa Cruz is the perfect place to enjoy a mixture of city charm and outdoor fun. It offers beaches, state parks, a boardwalk, wineries, and museums. The Roaring Camp Railroads take you on an hour-long train ride through a forest of majestic redwood trees. If you prefer to move at your own pace and get some exercise, you can also explore the redwoods at the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.  

Toyota vehicles by a beach
2021 Toyota SUV on a road

Fresno, CA from Palo Alto, CA: 2 hours, 45 minutes 

Plan on leaving early and returning late for a day trip to Fresno. This city offers natural attractions, museums, and art attractions, as well as being known for its agriculture. We recommend booking a one-hour tour of the Forestiere Underground Gardens, a California Historical Landmark. If you’re interested in history, architecture, or gardens, this tour will appeal to you. After your tour, you can head to Shinzen Japanese Garden for even more plants and landscaping, or you can easily spend the day exploring downtown.  

Sacramento, CA from Palo Alto, CA: 2 hours, 5 minutes 

If you’ve never been to our state capitol, Sacramento is just over two hours from home. The capital building itself is impressive and worth a stop, but there are plenty of other things to do in the city including exploring the district of Old Sacramento and visiting the museums if you’re into history. If history isn’t your thing, there are plenty of shopping areas, restaurants, and artsy things to do including art museums, art galleries, and street art.