Located across the bay from San Francisco, Marin County is a breathtakingly beautiful community in Northern California. Sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as proximity to some of the most impressive natural landmarks around, make this area a must-visit destination.
Here are some of the best day trips you can take from Marin County.
You may have heard of this NorCal gem. Cross the big red Golden Gate Bridge, and you’re in the heart of one of the most exciting cities in the country. You could drive across the bridge, or you could rent bikes and cross. Take in the view from 65 stories in the air!
Next, take advantage of a nice day and explore Golden Gate Park. With over 1,000 acres to explore, you can wander through the Arboretum or sip tea in the Japanese Tea Garden. Interested in history? Take the boat to Alcatraz Island and learn about the prison’s fabled past, which has inspired so many thrilling films.
Just a quick 30-minute ferry ride from San Francisco is gorgeous Sausalito. Known for its stunning views and proximity to the water, Sausalito is an excellent place to explore. Stroll down the Sausalito Boardwalk and poke around the many shops and cute restaurants.
And because water is so essential to this community, it’s no surprise some people choose to live on it! Explore the Sausalito houseboats, uniquely crafted homes that float atop the water. For a truly unforgettable view, head to Vista Point — there’s no better way to take in the Golden Gate and all of its scenery.
Just under an hour from Marin Country are some of the best Muir Woods hiking trails, as well as Muir Woods beach! Muir Woods National Monument boasts one of the last redwood forests in the country and is a giant natural playground. Crane your neck to see the treetops or take a picture of yourself standing inside one of the tree trunks. Three miles west of Muir Woods is Muir Beach — a gorgeous cove known for its privacy and influx of migrating Monarch butterflies in the fall.
While it’s a tad further out than Muir Beach, Half Moon Bay is another excellent beach option. Just south of Marin County, Half Moon is best known for its gorgeous cliffs, glistening beaches, and charming downtown area. Fill your basket with fresh produce at the Saturday farmers market, or pop into one of the many quaint shops on Main Street. You could also tour one of the many galleries filled with art inspired by the natural beauty of Half Moon.
Another 1.5-hour drive away is The Filoli Estate. This historic home and garden offer a peaceful oasis during any season. With over 56 rooms, the house is an impressive estate—one of the best examples remaining from the early 20th century. The surrounding garden is over 16 acres and is open to visitors for walking, sitting, and admiring. Take in the endless rows of flowers, fruits, and vegetables that grow within the estate walls. You can even reserve a private tea to end an incredibly charming visit.
Just under 30 minutes from Marin County is Tomales Bay State Park. This park is both forest and beach. Walk along with one of the many hiking trails and note all wildlife, including deer, meerkats, and foxes. The calm water here is ideal for water sports—kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding are all possible in this outdoor paradise.
Wine lovers love the proximity of Sonoma Valley. Pick a designated driver and head out for some tasting! With over 250 wineries in the area, you’ll have your pick. Pair a Bordeaux with some cheese at Chateau St. John and take in the estate’s breathtaking home and views. The Benziger Family Winery is known for its biodynamic farming and produces an impressive “green wine” portfolio. Just 45 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge is Calmére Estate Winery. In French, “calme” means calm, and “mer” means sea. The name is fitting for this winery, which overlooks the beautiful bay.
Kids and adults alike love Safari West, which is known as the “Sonoma Serengeti.” This wildlife foundation leads safari tours throughout the preserve. You can see over 900 animals from 90 species, including giraffes, antelopes, cheetahs, and flamingos! You can also turn your day trip into an overnight trip and stay in one of the park’s safari tents. Imported from Botswana, these tents take “glamping” to the next level. Each tent offers hardwood floors, beds, and deck views of the preserve.
Sebastopol is in Sonoma County and was once known for its plumb and apple orchards. Today, it makes for a great day trip destination. This laid-back town offers an array of eclectic shops and quaint cafes and restaurants. Grab a book and some tea at Many Rivers Books & Tea. Head to The Barlow for lunch — this former apple processing plant is now a series of restaurants. The town is small and walkable, so you’ll find it easy to shop, eat, and explore within the day.
You’ve seen the photos of boardwalks and rides, but Santa Cruz is more than its boardwalk. Of course, the boardwalk is fun! Hop on the merry-go-round and treat yourself to some cotton candy. While you’re in Santa Cruz, you can also take a hike to a 30-foot waterfall in the heart of the forest. Prefer to drive? There are plenty of ways to take in all parts of this coastal area from the road.
This impressive preserve is known as an “ecological jewel.” Its native plant community is completely unique to the area, and you can enjoy seeing it all from one of the preserve’s many hiking trails. The preserve takes excellent care to maintain the wildlife’s natural integrity while providing fun trails and activities for its visitors. You can swim or fish in the nearby water and bike and picnic on the trails. The park also promotes wildlife education with its many educational activities and camps for kids.
For a super-hip vibe, head to Berkely, CA. There is, of course, Berkeley University, where you can load up on college gear and relive your glory days. The town itself is also worth the trip. Berkeley is full of eclectic shops and restaurants. Head to Fourth Street Shops for trendy, upscale boutiques as well as local eateries. Bette’s Oceanview Diner (known for its giant pie centerpiece) is a local favorite. There’s also no shortage of record shops for music lovers. Dave’s Record Shop is an indie spot stocked with vintage vinyl.
Looking to move to Marin County, San Francisco, or Sausalito? Check out other blog posts and contact the Bernard Link Group today! We’re happy to discuss real estate, new homes, and properties in these areas.
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