When the weather heats up, locals and tourists alike flock to Stinson Beach. This can make for a slow slog up highway 1 from Marin County, especially in the summer, but the spectacular coastal views are worth it.
Muir Woods National Monument is a popular stop along the way. The park gets crowded with groups of tourists ambling along the trails, gazing upward at the majestic old-growth redwoods (the tallest is nearly 250 feet tall and close to 800 years old!). Despite the crowds, Muir Woods is a must.
Stinson Beach is about 15 minutes from Muir Woods. This waterfront village has a 3.5-mile stretch of pristine beach along Bolinas Bay that attracts sunbathers and surfers. Stinson is a rustic beach town with a handful of dining options, a surf shop, a book shop and some galleries.
For a quick taco or crepe, head over to the beachside walk-up, The Siren Canteen. For a more upscale dining experience, The Sand Dollar Restaurant & Bar offers seafood dishes and live music nights.
Bolinas is a funky little community close to Stinson Beach. Bolinas is surrounded by water on three sides—Bolinas Lagoon, Bolinas Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The residents of this unincorporated village are notoriously protective of their secluded paradise. Although there are no marked roads to get here, it’s not that difficult to find. Head north on highway 1 from Stinson and drive all the way around the Bolinas Lagoon.
It’s easy to understand why the folks here don’t want to be overrun with visitors. It is a laidback, beachfront town with one local watering hole, Smiley’s Schooner Saloon, and one restaurant, Coast Café.
Bolinas has a colorful beach wall that’s worth checking out. Whether it is graffiti or art is up for debate, but it’s cool nonetheless.
If you’re up for a day hike, the trail to Alamere Falls is a scenic one with an epic pay-off. Known as a “tidefall,” Alamere Falls is a rare type of waterfall that flows directly into the ocean.
The best time to go is in the spring when it is fully flowing, but any time of year is still worthwhile. It is an 8-mile roundtrip hike that passes by two pretty lakes—Bass Lake and Pelican Lake—before you get to the beach where the falls are.
To get to Alamere Falls, you start at the Palomarin Trailhead which is about a 15-minute drive from Bolinas along Mesa Road. Bring a lunch and plenty of water!