As one of two famous cities in California, a big drawcard for heading further south is Los Angeles. The city is home to Hollywood Hills, the original Disneyland in Anaheim, and the infamous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. It will take you over 6 hours to drive between these cities, a trip of just under 400 miles. Pick up an RV for rent in San Francisco, California, and allow some time to enjoy a variety of sceneries as you move from one city to another.
America’s west is known for its towering sequoia trees, so a camper trip to these forest giants while in the area is a must. Make your way just over 5 hours southeast to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which are right next to each other in the Sierra Nevada. You can hike, bike, horseback ride, and more amongst sequoias that can grow up to 280 feet tall.
Napa Valley is only two hours north of San Francisco and is one of the best spots in the country for wine growing—and, therefore, wine tasting. This beautiful wine-country region also offers spas, wine tours by bike, and luxurious hot air balloon rides over the landscape.
Four hours east (roughly 160 miles) of San Francisco, CA, is Yosemite National Park, the third most visited state park in the country, with almost 4 million people visiting every year. Yosemite National Park hosts amazing waterfalls, granite cliffs, sequoia trees, hiking tracks, and animal life.
California’s capital city, Sacramento, is just 2.5 hours from San Francisco and is a beautiful spot built around the Sacramento River, with pockets of history throughout the city. It’s known for its museums, food, parklands, and historic locations. You can easily hop from one tourist site to another with your San Francisco camper rental.
An 8.5-hour drive to the east is the city of casinos and shotgun weddings. The Nevada city of Las Vegas is a great spot to start or finish an RV Rental road trip.
The best seasons to visit San Francisco in an RV rental
The weather in San Francisco is notoriously difficult to predict, and the seasons don’t tend to correspond with expectations. To fully enjoy a perfect RV holiday in the city, it is best to know first when to go and pack accordingly.
Spring, from March to May, is a great time to visit, as the city tends to be warm and dry, without the usual springtime rain showers.
Fall is the best time for visiting San Francisco. There is less fog, plenty of warmth, and little rain from September to November.
Summer in Northern California tends to be cooler than expected, with fog rolling in from the sea. Similarly, winters are unlike normal winters, as it practically never snows, and the temperatures remain relatively mild, although rain is expected.
Options for RV rental in San Francisco, CA, vary widely. At Motorhome Republic, we make sifting through San Francisco RV rental companies easy. Search and compare motorhome rental companies in San Francisco, including Cruise America RV Rentals, Apollo RV, Road Bear, El Monte RV, Jucy Rentals, Expedition Motorhomes, Lost Campers, and many more.
San Francisco RV Rental vacation planning
Get on the road in San Francisco, CA, and enjoy the fabulous bay area and the state of California with a rental RV. Having your own wheels allows you to explore the San Francisco Bay and Half-Moon Bay, drive over the famous Golden Gate Bridge, and check out Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Zoo. Travel south to more fabulous coastal cities or north into the Napa Valley wine country.
San Francisco - City on the Bay
One of America’s most popular destinations, San Francisco, is located on the west coast—north of Los Angeles and south of Napa Valley. Not many cities have a song dedicated to them, but San Francisco is more than worthy.
It’s been described as a “roller-coaster ride of a city,” with so much to see and do. Landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, rolling hills, and a remarkable multicultural population help create this tourism favorite.
Lay Your Head
Wondering where to stay in San Francisco, CA, before or after your RV camping adventure? You can’t go wrong at Union Square in downtown San Francisco. From Chancellor to the Grand Hyatt, the larger hotels are here. But brace yourselves, as it can be bustling all night long. Nearby Lombard Street has more inns and motels, but many options exist.
If you are traveling as a family, Fisherman’s Wharf is easily accessible by public transport and is a city in itself. You won’t find many hostels in Fisherman’s Wharf, but you will in the CBD. Pacific Tradewinds Hostel, near Chinatown, has a good reputation. Find an RV park such as Candlestick RV Park or a campground on the coast to park up your campervan rental in the San Francisco Bay area.
What’s On in San Francisco
Baseball is a unique institution in the USA—and opening day for the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in April brings more than 100,000 locals out to play. You need to try the garlic fries! The Cherry Blossom Festival is in the same month and is a celebration of Japanese culture with music, food booths, dancing, and much more.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Parade (LGBT) is a two-day festival in June, with the best jazz music performers coming to town around late October-November.
Get out of your RV hire and live it up like a local when you join any of those San Francisco events. But overall, no matter what you do, the generally positive atmosphere will make any event memorable.
Are you hungry?
As you can imagine, it’s difficult to categorize the cuisine, as virtually everything is available. New restaurants are constantly opening, while regular high-end spots such as Bar Tartine and Gary Danko continue to deliver. San Francisco prides itself on cultural variety, so bistros, bakeries, and great cafes are commonplace. You won’t go hungry here.
Another booming craze is the microbrewery, with 21st Amendment and Anchor Brewing Company offering craft beer and various alcoholic flavors.
Get Out and About
It’s impossible to go past two iconic landmarks of San Francisco, CA: The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island Penitentiary. Spanning nearly 9000 ft, the Golden Gate Bridge has been the background to numerous famous films. The new Bridge Plaza is part of the visitor experience if you fancy a guided tour. Alcatraz Island Penitentiary still has mythical-type status, although it closed in 1963. Located on an island, it operates today as a museum and receives around 1.5 million visitors annually.
Art lovers should visit the Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts. It’s a scientific haven, with exhibits and programs—just so much to see and do in one place. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art features a spectacular collection of 20th-century pieces. Visit the Asian Art Museum and the Legion of Honor to view historical works spanning thousands of years.
And there is no better way to see them all at your own pace than touring with the family in an RV in San Francisco, CA.
Trains and automobiles
Getting around the San Francisco Bay area is pretty straightforward, with the Muni railway working for light rail and the subway. The cable car system is highly popular, and you’ll also find intercity bus services. Hire a car or rent an RV in San Francisco, CA, to travel on your own schedule.
A Pacific outlook
The Pacific Ocean strongly influences the weather, with an average high of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, while winters dip to about 45 degrees. Summer can be dry but not too extreme. In terms of what to wear, layers are the way to go.
San Francisco Itineraries
Whether you’re passing through on an epic American family camping road trip or starting out with an RV rental in Northern California and driving out from the center, you’ll need to give yourself time. Read on for helpful information on state parks, national forests, local rest areas, RV parks, campsites, dump stations, and other links to plan your motorhome trip in the San Francisco Bay area.
Could there be anything more exciting than having a massive itinerary at your fingertips and laying out the world-renowned attractions, cities, and events you’re about to experience? We doubt it. Just picture that feeling of getting in the driver’s seat of your RV, ready to make a start on your tour—now start planning.
Renting an RV in San Francisco, CA, allows you to travel to the best motorhome destinations close to the city center.
Here are a few of the best travel itinerary ideas in and near San Francisco that you can use as inspiration to get started on your California RV camping road trip.
Salt Lake City is the perfect place to start your Burning Man Festival road trip. You can begin your campervan adventure long before you cross Nevada to become a temporary resident of Black Rock City. Experience the madness and excitement that typify this annual festival. Nowhere and nothing else on the planet offers such a party with a festive vibe, community spirit, and eco-friendly goals. Then, continue your RV camping holiday to San Francisco.
As a temporary city, a community without financial transactions, a party in the desert—Burning Man is many things. Still, most of all, it’s a Bucket List experience not to be missed. This epic festival attracts thousands of free-spirited people with minds as open as they are curious, where they get together and spend one week dressing up, partying, and sharing resources before burning a giant effigy at the end of the festival. Many people arrive in an RV, so book early to lock in your own transportation that will get you there. Refer to the guides by our expert writers below to learn more about this fantastic event:
“Mixed bag” doesn’t even begin to cover the multitude of spaces you’ll cover on an RV rental road trip from Salt Lake City in Utah to the San Francisco Bay area. The views out your window will change from sparse alien-like landscapes and bizarre salt flats to the majesty of the Grand Canyon and then the busy art hubs of San Francisco. Or, you could always pick up a camper rental in San Francisco and do it the other way around!
San Francisco to San Diego via Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon
RV Rentals in San Diego, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—these are some of the famous names in RV rental USA travel, and you’ll see them all (and more) on this roundabout road trip that takes you the awesome way rather than the quick way. The contrasting sights of the wild open spaces and the always-on cities will keep you on your toes and your cell phone ready to capture Insta-worthy pics.
The main street of any town tends to be the place with the city's best sights, tastes, and attractions. So when you drive down the Main Street of America on Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, you’ll get a hearty filling of all things USA. While the route doesn’t technically take you to San Francisco, you could easily add the final few hours in your RV rental up the Californian coast to this dynamic city to your motorhome itinerary.
Nothing says “holiday” like time spent on a coastline, and—you guessed it—the San Francisco Bay area and the Californian Coast are right up there as one of the best coastline road trips on the planet. You can start or finish your San Francisco RV rental itinerary in this town, but where you travel from there is entirely up to you.
Events in San Francisco & Surrounds
There are more events and things to experience in San Francisco, CA, than there are in some entire states in the USA. The San Francisco Bay area offers an endless array of experiences, from some of the biggest sporting matches in the country to incredible culture-packed festivals that reflect the city’s diversity and acceptance. Of course, this Californian city also knows how to put on a feast, which is why there are so many food and wine events in and near San Francisco, CA.
And finally, the music scene adds another reason to book an RV for rent in San Francisco. You’ll find an endless string of concerts and performances featuring some of the most well-known names in music throughout the year.
San Francisco Sports Scene
The Ryder Cup is an ongoing golfing battle between Europe and the United States, held once every two years. It’s a great excuse to grab a motorhome and take a road trip to see this epic competition for the Cup—and, more importantly, for the glory. Take a look at a piece on the Ryder Cup put together by the Motorhome Republic team: RVs and Golf, a Match Made in Holiday Heaven: Ryder Cup and Beyond.
The championship NFL game in American football has become such an event that many Americans consider it an unofficial holiday, and it’s regularly the most-watched television event in the country. For those who can make it to the game in person, everything from the atmosphere to the legendary half-time show and the game itself makes this a once-in-a-lifetime event. Why not make the Superbowl part of your next RV rental adventure?
While you’re in town, you can also check out Levi’s Stadium, which is the home of the local football team—the San Francisco 49ers. It’s one of the most high-tech sporting facilities on the planet and has even hosted the Superbowl 50 match. Massive sporting events and concerts are often held here throughout the year. So be sure to check if anything’s on when exploring in your San Francisco RV rental.
San Francisco’s other major sports stadium is AT&T Park, home to the local baseball team—the San Francisco Giants. This venue sits right on the waterfront and offers incredible views at any game. Even if nothing is happening here while you’re visiting, you can take a guided tour for backstage access to player’s areas and other places you would not usually see.
Arts & Culture in San Francisco
The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco proves that you don’t have to be in Japan to enjoy this celebration of springtime’s prettiest pink blooms. Usually held over two weekends every April, the event brings together Japanese and American cultures with performances, music, food, and more.
What attracts more than 400,000 people, covers 13 of San Francisco’s city blocks, lasts just one day in September, and can call itself the biggest fetish and leather celebration in the world? The Folsom Street Fair is the only place such an event should be held. There are more than 200 exhibitors each year, each bringing a variety of products such as sex toys, clothing, accessories, and more. This is a highly welcoming community, so don’t let your nerves get the better of your curiosity and head along!
San Francisco Food & Wine
Few regions are as well-known and respected in wines as Napa Valley. Only 1.5 hours north of San Francisco, California, this valley is home to at least 400 wineries, a multitude of restaurants, spas, and attractions to complete your RV rental camping trip. You could get lost amongst the vineyards and drive around San Francisco in your campervan hire for weeks, simply tasting your way from one cellar door to the next, so give yourselves plenty of time for exploring if you love a good vino.
San Francisco Food Tours
One of the most fun parts of exploring a new city is discovering its food scene, but it can also be one of the hardest. When you’re short on time and want a quick way to find the best restaurants, bars, and cafes, get the family onto one of the city’s food tours. You can discover several great options that will provide you with all of this info, a history of the area, and a few great tastings along the way.
Late in August every year, the San Francisco Bay area delivers its best in food, wine, beer, and spirits in a world-class event that will get your mouth watering and your eyes scanning for your next treat. Take classes, watch demonstrations, and visit a restaurant or two. Eat, drink, and be merry to your heart’s content.
Treasure Island Music Festival
Treasure Island is a piece of artificial land in the San Francisco Bay. It’s also the site of an annual music festival that runs for two days in October. Day one is all about hip hop, rap, and electronica, while day two is dedicated to indie rock and rock. Many headlining acts are world-famous, such as Gorgon City and Deadmau5.
The Lost Highway Motorcycle Show and Concert is a massive festival for bikers, bike lovers, and rock fans. There’s plenty of live music, charity rides, art exhibits, and a motorcycle show across two days in July each year in San Bernardino. For convenience, there’s a massive campground on site (no amenities available), making it a perfect place to visit with your motorhome rental in San Francisco, California.
Take a short 2-hour drive from San Francisco, CA, to Napa Valley for this five-day music festival in May. Starting in 2013, this event has attracted more than 100,000 people a year, including world-class acts such as Ben Harper and Joan Jett.
One of the biggest music festivals on the planet is Coachella, held in Indio, California, roughly a full day’s drive from San Francisco. The event covers a number of genres, from hip-hop to electronica, and includes art sculptures. It offers the same lineups two weekends in a row so that even more people can make the trip.
Activities in San Francisco & Local California Area
Between all the itineraries and the events, don’t forget that the San Francisco Bay area has activities and attractions that could take weeks to explore just by themselves. You’ll find iconic monuments known all over the world, as well as epic natural scenery and everything in between. Make a list of all the things you want to see, then set about ticking them off for a memorable and jam-packed San Francisco camping tour in your California RV rental!
You will always have places to enjoy San Francisco, California, in a motorhome. On the east coast of San Francisco is the Ocean Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. On the west coast is the San Francisco Zoo, and further south, stay the night at the San Francisco RV Resort. This RV park boasts impressive views of the Pacific Ocean and has on-site amenities and activities for the whole family. Stop in at the State beaches Gray Whale Cove and Montara on the way to the scenic town of Half Moon Bay.
The Golden Gate Bridge is not just San Francisco’s main icon but also a universally recognized structure. This suspension bridge attracts roughly 10 million visitors annually, and you can see it by taking a bike across, walking, or driving over it.
It’s a name that inspired fear into the hearts of many as a federal prison for the worst criminals in the country from 1934 to 1963. Nicknamed “The Rock,” no prisoner ever managed to escape this island fortress. You’ll discover why when you take a boat ride out and tour the structure during your visit to San Francisco, CA.
If you’ve ever wondered where the largest Chinatown outside of China is, here it is. San Francisco’s Chinatown is also the oldest in the US and is packed with shops, restaurants, parks, and squares across 24 blocks in downtown San Francisco. The two main roads, Grant Avenue and Stockton Street are two of the best places to simply stroll and explore.
Over 26 million species are housed in the California Academy of Sciences natural museum. Covering 400,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest in the country. This isn’t just any old museum; it houses an aquarium, a planetarium, and a rainforest—just a few fantastic exhibits worth exploring. Come to the San Francisco Botanical Garden and Golden Gate Park, then spend the night at the Candlestick RV Park campground to the southwest.
Many places use cable cars, but none are as recognizable as those in San Francisco, CA. This is mainly because this city is where innovator Andrew Smith Hallidie first imagined the idea and tested the system in 1873. In San Francisco, you can ride the cars and enjoy the views (in far more modern versions).
San Francisco, CA, is right in the middle of a smattering of the best national parks in the world. To the northeast, the Rockies (the Rocky Mountains) stretch from British Columbia in Canada right down through the States, and you can visit them at countless points with a San Francisco motorhome hire. The Yosemite National Park is a little closer, just three hours east by campervan, and is known for its beautiful waterfalls.
Finally, Yellowstone National Park is a long drive away in Wyoming (mostly) but makes for an incredible RV road trip from San Francisco, California. Check out this piece by the Motorhome Republic team on experiencing Yellowstone in an RV Rental.
Love camping in national forests? Spend the night at a campground and participate in outdoor activities like wildlife spotting and hiking. We recommend you visit El Dorado, Tahoe, Toiyabe, Sierra, Mendocino, and Plumas National Forests.
The Muir Woods are the world’s most visited redwood park and is a gorgeous place for an afternoon or day spent exploring massive, beautiful trees just outside Sausalito. Sausalito is a small, arty community near San Francisco city, on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Hit the shops or stop at a restaurant to enjoy a glass of vino as you watch the sunset over the bay.
Drive two hours north of San Francisco and indulge in the bountiful Sonoma County Wine Region. Known for its divine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the area has more than 500 wineries just waiting for you to sample.
Day trips don’t get much better than this—Half Moon Bay is just 45 minutes in an RV rental from the city and offers a world away from the bustle of San Francisco. Between the beach (that you can ride horses on), the golf course, and the shops and restaurants in the small township, you can easily while away a day or two in bliss.
Lake Tahoe is roughly 3.5 hours northeast of San Francisco, CA, and is the largest alpine lake in North America. It crosses the border between California and Nevada and is popular throughout summer for outdoor recreation—hit the hiking trails, go biking, spend a night camping, and kayak. Then in winter, the ski season sets in, and it becomes a leading snowsports destination.
South San Francisco
The San Francisco International Airport is located in South San Francisco, California.
Follow the coastline roughly three hours south of San Francisco, and you’ll reach Big Sur, a popular attraction known for its rugged coastline and rich history. The Bixby Creek Bridge is an iconic structure, as it traverses a canyon right before the crashing waves of the coast—head on down from San Francisco on your campervan road trip.
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No matter where you go or what kind of motorhome rental you’re driving, you’ll need this guide to find quality camping sites all over the world.
From the inside, they look like an elegant and welcoming—if a little compact—five-star hotel room. They’re grand RV rentals from the outside that will take you anywhere you want to go—in style.
Travel at any time of year like a seasoned pro with these quick tips for campervan trips throughout summer, autumn, winter, and spring.
Some people simply never grow tired of travel, so they simply never stop. They’re Grey Nomads, and they zoom about the globe in motorhomes, having much more fun than most of us!