Stinson Beach sits on the Pacific in Marin County, past Muir Woods and Mount Tam. A teeny town that straddles Highway 1, purposing it as their downtown street, Stinson Beach is absolutely beautiful. Although it’s a bit of a journey to get there, it’s very worth it. The drive itself is stunning, a tour through redwood groves before descending down to the beach, which stretches for a couple miles. And, at the base of Mount Tam, the deep green trees are juxtaposed by the white sand.
I have lived in the Bay Area most of my life, but I haven’t explored it much. This year, I feel determined to change that! The other weekend, a couple girlfriends and I decided to play tourist and go somewhere new. Ultimately, we decided on Stinson Beach.
A Day at Stinson Beach
We hit the road early, arriving in Stinson Beach around 9:30 in the morning. Our priority was coffee. After fueling up on caffeine and fresh lemon poppyseed muffins from Parkside Café, we hopped back into the car heading north. We were looking for Bolinas.
Bolinas is a secret town, secluded by the Pacific, Bolinas Bay, and a lagoon. In fact, it has a serious reputation of not wanting to be found. Apparently, locals tear down road signs leading to Bolinas any time the state puts them up.
Thanks to our handy-dandy iPhones, it only took 15 minutes to reach this sleepy beach town. We were graced with brilliant blue skies and soaked up the warm, morning sun as we walked down to the water. The roads were calm and our only company were a few fisherman, a couple beachgoers, and a trickle of surfers coming and going.
We felt like we stepped into a different time, a quiet town with only one restaurant, one gas station, and a handful of cozy clapboard houses. The main plaza, nestled between a modest library and food co-op, was smaller than my elementary school blacktop. And, despite our concerns, locals were extremely friendly.
After a couple hours, we returned to Stinson for lunch at the Siren. By now, cars were backed up into Mount Tam. We parked further away, walking leisurely to admire the quaint cottages and blooming flowers.
The Siren did not disappoint. It was everything a beach eatery should be: unobtrusive, informal, and affordable. The menu teemed with a variety of tacos, burgers, and milkshakes, which customers could enjoy on the covered patio or take down to the beach.
Stinson Beach and Bolinas are two serious jewels of Northern California. Off the beaten path, both offer an understated reprieve from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, paired with unparalleled views and landscapes. I’m already planning my next trip back.