An intimate beach enclave of bric-á-brac shops, art cars and wildflower-strewn boat houses, this unincorporated North Coast town displays all the charms of a hippie haven.
As I enter the main stretch of Bolinas, I slow down to a heedful 10 mph. Families lunch on garlic oysters at the small Coast Café, a retired boomer sits in deep thought outside the empty Bolinas Museum, and bearded fisherman unload the day's catch from a vintage boat that looks like it's too rusty to start.
At the beach, I climb a graffiti-speckled tide wall to watch wetsuit-clad surfers having a field day with the waves. An enthusiastic mother in a foldout chair cheers on her son who is catching a wave for the first time. A pair of veteran sun-kissed surfers stroll by, their suits half-zipped and rears spotted with lumps of sand. Dogs splash about enthusiastically in the frigid water with bikini-clad children. This spurs envy in a bare-bummed toddler, his shaggy hair waving in the wind as he tears loose from his mother's hold.