Bay Area, California

By Luu Phan & Alex Ortiz

Learn about this vibrant city area where Luu and Alex, full-time vanlifers, spend most of their time!

Land Acknowledgement

We are on occupied Ohlone Land. The Ohlone Tribe comprises nearly 50 different indigenous groups within the area that have lived on and cared for this land for thousands of years. The Muwekma Ohlone people inhabited the land that is now known as the San Francisco Bay Area. You can learn more about the Muwekma Ohlone here.

If you are traveling through the East Bay please take time to check out Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, an organization based on Huchiun land. Sogorea Te’ Land Trust is an urban indigenous women led organization working to educate, preserve, and revive their culture. This organization encourages people occupying the land to pay The Shuumi Land Tax, which helps the organization’s work. This work includes purchasing land in the Bay Area and returning it to Indigenous people.

Bay Area at a Glance

The Bay Area is a culturally diverse hub, a place with a rich history, and a playground for nature lovers who still want to be close to city life. If you are traveling through the Bay Area, chances are you will be able to find a community that reflects your identity.

Many cities in the Bay Area have been historically known as places of resistance. There have been a lot of social justice movements that have come from the Bay Area, like the Black Panther Party in Oakland and many LGBTQIA+ organizations in San Francisco. People who have been living in the Bay Area for generations continue to resist systems of oppression.

For those who enjoy doing outdoors activities, the Bay Area offers a wide range of activities that are within reach in all directions. You can find numerous mountain biking trails, hiking trails, oceans and more. The Bay Area has mild weather year round! There is no good or bad time to visit the area. We do not experience extreme weather on either ends of being too cold or too hot. But Bay Area folks know to always bring layers because our daily temperature can shift and change throughout the day.

Things To Check Out

1. Educational – Museums
  • Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, CA): great collection of California History, California Art, and California Natural Science. The OMCA also does amazing work with both permanent and temporary exhibits with a focus on social justice education. (family friendly, kid friendly)
  • Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA): a great museum for adults and kids! They offer regular Story Time for children during the mid-day. On Thursday nights they have their “After Dark” event for 18+ audience with rotating learning experiences for adults. Imagine a sip and learn kind of event.
  • Lindsay Wildlife Experience (Walnut Creek, CA): The first ever wildlife hospital established in the US, this space runs both as a wildlife museum and wildlife rehabilitation center. They offer a range of educational experiences for people of all ages to learn about different wildlife and how to care for them.
2. Outdoors activities
  • Point Reyes National Seashore: One of our favorite local spaces to visit! It is north of San Francisco and offers so many outdoor activities including kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, backpacking, swimming, and fresh oysters.
  • Joaquin Miller in Oakland: One of the best ways to feel like you are deep in the forest while still being minutes within the city!
    • Joaquin Miller offers many trails for hiking and biking.
  • Lafayette Reservoir, San Pablo Reservoir, Lake Temescal, Lake Chabot, Quarry Lakes: If you are into fishing or want to try it out, the Bay Area is a fun place to learn! There are many different locations to fish here. Some have boating docks and also rent out boats.  

Top Places To Camp Nearby

The Bay Area does offer some local options for camping but they are limited. But there are a ton of nice campgrounds within a 2-3 hour drive that are worth checking out!

  • Yosemite National Park (3 hours)
  • Big Sur (3 hours)
    • Limekiln State Park
    • Big Sur Campground and Cabins
    • Fernwood
    • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
  • Pinnacles National Park (2 hours)
  • Pinecrest Lake (3 hours)
    • One of our favorite places to camp!
  • Hendy Woods (2 hours)
  • Sugarloaf Ridge (2 hours)
  • Samuel P. Taylor State Park (1 hour)
  • Lake Berryessa (1 hour)
  • Tahoe National Forest (3 hours)

Find Luu & Alex on Instagram @la_combi_life!

Photos courtesy of Luu & Alex.

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