Grass Valley, CA
Distance from SF: 143 miles; 2.5-hour drive
Why: It's a little taste of what it might have been like in the wild, wild west. But without the gun fights.
Three things to do while you're there:
1. Eat at The Willo, a roadhouse 15 minutes out of town where you can cook your own steak on the grill in the dining room. Or they'll cook it for you, if you're too fancy for that (which you're not, right?).
2. Check out Empire Mine, the site of the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in California. Pack a picnic and pour one out for the 44 mules who spent their lives deep in the mines, pulling ore cars and never seeing the light of day.
3. Stay at The Holbrooke, whose guest book was signed by Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland (they were both presidents, in case you failed US history) and whose saloon downstairs is said to be the oldest continuously operating saloon west of the Mississippi (yup, they were even open during Prohibition).