Spend a day hiking in the sparse beauty of Marin County’s headlands! The county contains public parks such as Muir Woods, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Stinson Beach. Other natural protected areas include portions of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Visitors can swim, hike, kayak, and more in the county, which contains the cities of Sausalito, Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Novato (to name a few).
Where To Visit
Marin Headlands: The Marin Headlands are part of the Golden Gate National Park Recreation Area and are a hotbed of past geologic activity. The cliffs are comprised of radiolarian chert, which was microscopic ocean creatures that died and fell to the ocean floor, creating layers of sediment that are visible on the cliffs today.
Visitors can also see rocks made of black pillow basalt jutting out of the sea, which was formed when lava burst into the sea floor millions of years ago and cooled. Although originally located under the ocean floor, the movement of tectonic plates over the course of millions of years has transported these fascinating geological highlights to the Marin Headlands, where visitors can see them today. Marin Headlands website.
Walk along Rodeo Beach, where the beach is comprised of small dark red and green pebbles that tumble about with each incoming wave. Visitors can begin their hike from Rodeo Beach and continue up into the headlands. Here, plants have adjusted to withstand the strong ocean winds and foggy weather. You will find succulents clinging to the rocks, wildflowers, dense grasses, the occasional blackberry bush, and copious amounts poison oak. Stay on established paths to avoid contracting itchy breakouts.
Fort Cronkhite, an old military installation that used to be part of the Presidio, is located in the Marin Headlands by Rodeo Beach. The old military buildings currently house the Marine Mammal Center and a visitor center.
Muir Woods: Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 as a National Monument and named after the famed outdoorsman John Muir, Muir Woods is home to the world’s tallest and oldest trees: redwoods. Redwood trees have been known to reach heights up to 379.1 feet tall and to live for over 2,000 years. Native to the California coastline, where the foggy weather creates an ideally moist habitat, this redwood forest is home to deer, bobcats, spotted owls, and a number of endangered animals.
This National Park offers hiking for all levels of ability. The easiest hike is the boardwalk, consisting of planks of wood that create an accessible 1.5-mile hike around the basin. Other hikes lead up into the surrounding hills and range in difficulty from moderate to more difficult day-long hikes to Muir Beach and back. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop for nature guides and more!
Stinson Beach: Part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Stinson Beach is located beyond Muir Woods north of San Francisco. The beach is known for its cold waters and strong currents, so beachgoers should exercise caution when playing in the waves.
Sausalito: Sausalito, the charming waterfront community located in Marin County, offers a beautiful view of San Francisco from across the bay. Visitors will see Alcatraz, the bay bridge, the San Francisco Skyline, and the spires of the Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito. At night, the city glitters and casts a shimmering reflection in the bay waters, creating a romantic seaside backdrop fit for any special occasion.
Don’t forget to visit the houseboats of Sausalito! These homes are moored to a dock and float on the waters of the bay, rising with the incoming tide and resting on the ground when the tide recedes. These floating homes are as unique to Sausalito as the Golden Gate Bridge is to San Francisco.
Shopping: Sausalito’s shopping district is unique because the city has almost no chain stores. Instead, a unique combination of boutiques and specialty stores has sprung up along the waterfront. Their merchandise is often a reflection of the local culture, resulting in one-of-a-kind gifts that you will not find anywhere else.
Dining: Eat breakfast before shopping, grab a snack, or sit down to freshly caught seafood!
Things To Do
Take the Ferry! The Sausalito Ferry transits riders to and from the San Francisco Ferry Building.
Electric Bike Tour: Take an Electric Bike Tour from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito! Tours last for 3.5-4 hours and include the cost of a return ferry ticket to get you back to San Francisco.