Marin Blog · Shopping in Marin Collection

5 Ways to Experience Marin on a Budget

Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, August 10, 2020 by MCVB Staff

By Megan Eileen McDonough


Northern California might have a reputation for being on the pricey side, but there are plenty of immersive ways to experience Marin County without breaking the bank.


To stay within your budget, just think outside the box. For instance, instead of splurging on a decadent three-course meal, swing by the local farmers’ market and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies and other picnic essentials for the perfect al fresco lunch.


Whether you’re an avid art fan or a serious farm-to-table foodie, you’ll find that Marin caters to your needs as much as the high-rollers out there. Here are five affordable ways to experience Marin.


1. Gallery hop for free.


Every second Friday of the month, downtown San Rafael galleries open their doors for an evening of art, wine and delicious treats. Coined the 2nd Friday Art Walk, it's a one-stop shop for viewing new art collections, listening to live music and chowing down on fresh bites. You can even chat with many of the featured artists. Anchored by the galleries and artist studios at nonprofit Art Works Downtown, all venues link up along Fourth Street, making it easy to visit many venues in record time. If you do splurge on a glass of wine, at least you're helping the cause! Proceeds go to Art Works Downtown and assist with monthly promotion costs.


2. Hit up the local farmers’ markets.


Marin County has a slew of weekly farmers’ markets that sell fresh, local produce at bargain rates. The Downtown San Rafael Certified Farmers Market Festival is always a crowd favorite, especially because it’s an evening event. Every Thursday from April through September, foodies and music fans come together for three hours of festival fun. In addition to vendors representing almost 100 local farmers, many food stalls and restaurants get in on the action, too. Not visiting in the spring or summer? No worries! Stop by the year-round farmers’ market held at the Marin Civic Center on Thursdays and Sundays.


3. Take a jaunt through nature.


There are many immersive ways to tour Marin, but walking is often the most affordable. Rather than renting kayaks for the day or joining a small group safari, why not take a hike? Depending on your interests and fitness level, Coastal Walkers offers four routes, including the "Golden Gate Bridge to Baker Beach" and "Muir Woods & Mount Tamalpais" walks. Tours cost between $49 and $59 and generally last three to four hours. To save even more cash, pack your own lunch instead of buying snacks from vendors. Of course, you can also hike parts of these routes solo, but having a guide definitely has its perks.


4. Bike the California Cheese Trail.


Marin is a top foodie destination thanks to its close proximity to farmers who grow organic produce. If you're feeling adventurous, rent some bikes and cycle along the California Cheese Trail. Do a little research ahead of time to pick your preferred routes. There are many cheesemakers who are open to the public regularly, while others are open seasonally or by appointment only. Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes offers interactive experiences for visitors.


5. Attend a themed festival.


While art walks and farmers’ markets are regular occurrences, Marin's other festivals, where you can get a whole lot of entertainment bang for the buck, only roll around once per year. For beer enthusiasts, there's the Festival of Art, Wine & Music in Novato slated for June. One of Marin's most highly anticipated events is the Mill Valley Film Festival, which takes place each October. It's a great way to mix and mingle with other movie buffs and meet budding filmmakers.


For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page.

More information on featured attractions:

blog image

Agricultural Institute of Marin

Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) is a 501(c)3 non-profit which runs 7 farmers markets in the Bay Area, including the flagship Marin Farmers Market at the Marin Civic...[Learn More]

blog image

Coastal Walkers

Coastal Walkers introduces visitors and locals alike to the dramatic wild north coast of San Francisco and the Golden Gate. Our expertly guided, half-day walking tours are infused...[Learn More]