Above: Horseback riding on Limantour Beach
Posted in Blogging Marin on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 by MCVB Staff
By Whitney Butler
All great adventures have a few things in common: a compelling plot with a few surprises, memorable heroes and sidekicks, and a whole lot of action. Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Goonies, The Empire Strikes Back: These films are some of my favorite adventure stories. But before you go intergalactic looking for your next summer adventure, here are a few suggestions to excite your next getaway near the California coast in Marin County.
Hit the Trail, Cowboy
Westerns have been capturing audiences’ imaginations since the silent film era. In Stagecoach (1939), director John Ford captured one of the most memorable horse chases of all time: A stuntman leaps from his mount to a moving stagecoach and then back onto a galloping horse—all performed without the aid of safety harnesses and CGI!
For a summer adventure in the saddle, giddy up and head to Marin.
Marin County has hundreds of miles of horse trails and horse-friendly campsites for extended trail riding. Some of the best trails wind up Mount Tamalpais State Park or through the redwood forest at Samuel P. Taylor State Park.
It’s easy to express your inner cowboy (or cowgirl) at Five Brooks Ranch, located in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Enjoy a day in the saddle and explore this beautiful open space along the California coast. Five Brooks Ranch offers several trail packages, including half-day excursions, private sessions, pony rides and more. There’s no better way to start your adventure in Marin.
Hook, Line and Sinker
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Many of the film’s memorable moments showcase what can’t be seen just below the water’s crest—a playful and terrifying game of anticipation. For the rugged outdoorsman, anticipation is what fishing is all about.
Freshwater and saltwater fishing are popular outdoor activities in Marin County because of the area’s well-preserved natural resources. Indigenous species include catfish, carp, trout, salmon, flounder and bass.
Fishing in Marin is most accessible at China Camp State Park, located on San Pablo Bay (the site of a Chinese shrimp village in the 1880s); McNears Beach Pier in San Rafael for sturgeon, striped bass, perch and halibut; and all seven of Marin’s municipal watershed lakes, where you might find trout, bass and panfish.
You may not know what you’re going to catch, but fishing in Marin is a relaxing way to start a summer adventure with friends and family—without the great white sharks.
Mountain or a Molehill
Many great adventure stories feature a hero and friends traveling an epic distance. What journey can you think of that’s more perilous (and longer!) than J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy?
Compared to climbing Mordor, a hike up Mount Tamalpais may feel like climbing a molehill, but what it lacks in otherworldly creatures it makes up for with spectacular views and healthy outdoor fun. Mount Tamalpais State Park features 200 miles of hiking trails with views of the entire county. In the spring and early summer, wildflowers and wildlife are particularly abundant.
The Marin Headlands showcases the region's magnificent coastline, and offers the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Customize your hike at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
Four Feet and Feathers
Unlike the dinosaurs that wreak havoc in Jurassic Park, the native species in Marin are cuddlier and, for the most part, not interested in eating you.
Another great adventure to enjoy this summer in Marin is a wildlife safari throughout tide pools, redwood forests, seaside marshes and more. Point Reyes Safaris is an exciting way to use a new or favorite camera. Join a professional wildlife photographer and set out on a photographic quest. Enjoy half- or full-day excursion as you encounter tule elk, bobcats, coyotes, badgers, sea lions and more. Between December and May, the migratory paths of gray whales can be observed near the coast.
Bird watching is another popular activity that often sparks adventure. Nearly 500 species live in Marin. Rent a canoe or kayak and enjoy a day out on the water while enjoying birdsong from a symphony of avian species.
To enjoy wildlife watching in Marin, maintain a fair distance and leave no trace behind. Preservation is the only way to ensure threatened species don’t go the way of the dinosaurs.
Taste the Rainbow
Not all adventures involve long distances and monsters: take Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, for instance. It’s an adventure of the senses, the taste buds, and the heart; together they drive the protagonist to victory, and you can win big in Marin by exploring its local food scene.
Begin your edible adventure with West Marin Food and Farm Tours. In addition to exploring Point Reyes, adventurists will enjoy curated tours featuring the best food in Marin: local cheese, wine, artisan bread, even hand-plucked oysters straight from Tomales Bay. If you’ve never had raw oysters, it’s a brave endeavor, but one definitely worth taking in Marin.
If you’re still feeling adventurous, why not take a class at The Fork? This education center is located in Point Reyes at the Farmstead Cheese Company’s family dairy. You’ll learn about the food you eat with special guests, wine and lively entertainment. Enjoy hands-on cooking classes, farm tours and tastings on a culinary adventure even Willy Wonka couldn’t resist.
For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page, or download the mobile app.