The Best Things to Do in Marin County
Some days, you just gotta get out of the city. Immediately across the bridge is Marin County. Turn off immediately for the Marin Headlands, drive in a bit more for the Muir Woods or Mount Tam hikes, or continue even further up the coast to Point Reyes.
1 Sausalito - San Francisco Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
The Ferry Building in San Francisco is a must for any food lover, and Cowgirl Creamery is one of my favorite stops. This producer of artisanal cheeses is a place to pick up cheese for a snack or picnic and to ask questions about California cheese. Let the person know what type of cheese you like or are looking for, and you will be treated to samples until you find just the right one. My favorites on my last visit came from Vella Cheese from Sonoma.
19225 CA-1, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
North of the little town of Point Reyes Station, the Marshall Store sits on the banks of Tomales Bay. I’ve been coming here for years after hiking or horseback riding or walking on the beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. The place is super casual, and you can bring your own picnic supplies (we stopped at Cowgirl Creamery and bought a hunk of nutty Challerhocker cheese). Order raw oysters, BBQ oysters, and oysters Rockefeller. Grab an outdoor picnic table, add in a glass of Sancerre, and the world looks pretty good.
601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito
Spend the night nestled under the Golden Gate Bridge in the most dignified of accommodations: the former living quarters of high-ranking officers in the U.S. Army. Cavallo Point is the result of the luxurious reimagining of a cluster of military lodges located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, just over the bridge in Marin County. Today, the 142-room hotel serves as a retreat for in-the-know travelers and locals looking for an easy, elevated escape from everyday city life. Original brick fireplaces and beamed ceilings mingle with modern finishes and furnishings, such as butter-soft leather sofas and whitewashed Adirondack chairs. The expansive grounds are meant to be explored on foot or bicycle. The Wellness Weekend package includes all meals, prepared with an emphasis on health at Murray Circle restaurant, morning yoga classes, guided hikes, a spa treatment, nightly wine receptions, and plenty of free moments to soak in the serene meditation pool—the very best kind of boot camp.
20215 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
What a great way to spend a spring day in the Bay Area. Hog Island in Tamales Bay has very tasty oysters, a fun staff and a very friendly, comfortable environ. It used to be solely shuck it yourself and bring your own beverages. Although that is still my favorite way (but make a res in advance), it’s a great option to have them do the work.
23240 Hwy 1
Since I’m still relatively new to San Francisco, I’m still discovering all of the amazing places just outside of the city. Every weekend I try to hop in a car and explore. My latest discovery is Nick’s Cove, a restaurant and cottages located in a historic 1930s fishing settlement in the town of Marshall, California. Driving along State Route One, Nick’s is marked by its signature red pick up truck and a large wooden boat. What used to be an old herring curing plant is now an amazing restaurant that serves not-to-be-missed barbecued oysters that are plucked just feet away in Tomales Bay. If you’re open to sharing a table and making new friends, ask to eat or have a drink out in the boat shack at the end of the Christmas light-lit pier. The tiny wooden hut is super casual and has one large table, an old piano, and great views. Look closely and you can still see the initials finger-painted in dust on the windows by past visitors. We shared drinks with two Brits in the wine importing business and a darling local couple who were having date night because their kids were out of town. Due to a funny rule, servers can’t bring food out to the shack, but you can phone in your order and they provide a tray so you can carry it down the pier. In addition to the oysters, don’t miss the goat meatballs from Rossotti Ranch (and pair them with a red Burgundy). Order S’mores for dessert and you can roast the marshmallows in the shack’s wood-burning fireplace.
1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
Just 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge is Muir Woods National Monument, a 554-acre park; old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest trees in the world, cover 295 of those acres. Peaceful and lush, the forest is ideal for simply communing with nature, or hiking on trails that meander along Redwood Creek, past trees that are anywhere from 400 to more than 1,000 years old and soar 250 feet high. When staffing permits, guided talks are offered, or you can take a self-guided tour among the giants with a program available at the visitor center. The park is open 365 days a year. Given how beautiful it is, Muir Woods can get crowded, but it opens at 8 a.m., and the early bird does capture the best photos. If you prefer not to drive, a bus from the Sausalito Ferry landing (Route 66/66F) runs to the park every 10–20 minutes, depending on the time of year.
173 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
A popular activity for San Francisco locals and visitors is to cross the bridge and start a hike at Mt. Tamalpais State Park. A popular option is the Coastal View Trail or to start at road and hike down into Muir Woods National Monument on the Bootjack Trail. After seeing sweeping vistas of the Bay or navigating along streams and stairs, the perfect stop is at the Mill Valley Beerworks in Mill Valley. It’s a windy ride back down the hill (which you may have just walked up), but waiting for you is a long list of on-tap beers. Can’t decide between the Belgians, the Germans, or the California brews? Order an off the menu flight for a taste of each.