Posted in Best Marin Attractions on Friday, June 19, 2015 by MCVB Staff
By Megan Eileen McDonough
Located in the North San Francisco Bay Area, it's only natural that Marin County is a year-round beach destination. While summer is definitely high season for locals and tourists alike, many outdoor activities like kayaking and surfing can be enjoyed any time of the year. From quiet beaches with white sand and calm waters to luxurious cruises and marine reserves, here are five immersive ways to experience Marin's natural beauty.
For the Romantic: Muir Beach
Located just three miles west of Muir Woods, Muir Beach is a quiet spot for an afternoon picnic or leisurely hike. Muir is not only a beach, but a lagoon and cove as well, making this an ideal weekend getaway. The Muir Beach area also has a nice selection of local restaurants and boutique shops that are anything but touristy
For great views you will want to stroll along the 235-foot-long pedestrian bridge connecting visitors from the parking lot to the famous Coastal Trail. If you happen to be at Muir Beach in autumn, you’ll likely spot some of the thousands of monarch butterflies that migrate to the California coast each year. During the winter months, you can spot whales from the beach overlook.
For the Beach Bum: Tomales Bay
Sometimes you just want to sit back, relax and enjoy the view, and there’s no better spot to do that than Tomales Bay. Plus, unlike many of Northern California’s beaches, it’s perfectly safe to swim here.
Head straight to Heart's Desire Beach for white sand and pristine views. There’s no surf and the water is shallow, making this an ideal spot for families and less experienced swimmers. Rounding out the family experience are spacious picnic areas to choose from, complete with tables, charcoal grills and rest room facilities.
Chicken Ranch Beach is another smart option along Tomales Bay, especially for young families. It has the same shallow, surf-free and warm water as Heart's Desire Beach and ample space for sandcastle building.
For the Outdoor Adventurer: Surf 101
Marin is the perfect locale to unleash your adventurous side. 101 Surf Sports in San Rafael is a great starting point for all experience levels, with classes ranging from stand-up paddleboarding, kiteboarding and surfing to windsurfing and kayaking. Sign up for a class or just rent some gear. The water is conveniently located just behind the shop.
For something a bit more challenging, opt for one of Point Reyes Outdoors' overnight kayaking trips along the seashore. Tour themes range from wildlife exploration (think harbor seals, leopard sharks and bat rays) to photo-worthy sunset trips.
For Family Fun in the Sand
A family fun spot is Limantour Beach at the Point Reyes National Seashore. Limantour boasts gentle surf, stunning views, and miles of sandy beaches. Like nearby Drakes Beach, Limantour Beach is not located against the open ocean, so the waves here are gentle, making this beach fine for wading and even swimming on calmer days. Even If you don't go into the water, Limantour is still the perfect place to play in the sand, picnic, fly a kite, and just relax. Limantour is also dog-friendly; your on-leash canine companions are welcome on the southeast end of the beach. Note that the northern part of the beach is off-limits to dogs due to it being a nesting area for the endangered Snowy Plover.
For the Luxury Traveler: Angel Island Ferry
Angel Island Ferry adds a touch of luxury to a trip to Northern California, with its Marin Shoreline Cruise among its most popular cruises. During the one-hour scenic tour, passengers sail by some of the area's most impressive (and expensive) houses including the mansions of Belvedere island. The cruise is suitable for couples, families and larger groups as well. Make sure to bring your camera, as there are countless photo ops you won’t want to miss. For a super romantic evening, sign up for the 1.5-hour Sunset Cruise and sail around the San Francisco Bay Area while watching the sky shift from day to night.
More information on featured attractions:
This year, the existing parking lot has been re-aligned to allow the Redwood Creek channel to be connected to its natural floodplain. Muir...[Learn More]
The 2,000-acre day-use park features four gently sloping, surf-free beaches, protected from winds by Inverness Ridge, the backbone of the Point Reyes Peninsula. The park has hiking trails...[Learn More]
Point Reyes Outdoors is a kayaking, hiking and biking outfitter providing naturalist led tours in Point Reyes National Seashore. Explore local bays, esteros and wetlands observing harbor seals,...[Learn More]