What are the best things to do in Marin County near San Francisco?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Katie Sweeney

Marin County, which is located directly north of San Francisco, is a quick 10 minutes away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Celebrated for its wealth, liberal politics, and natural beauty, Marin County's most well known cities are Mill Valley, Sausalito, Tiburon, and San Rafael. The county is home to Skywalker Ranch, the headquarters of George Lucas' motion picture empire, and San Quentin Prison, one of California's highest security penitentiaries. From shopping to hiking to fine dining, Marin offers plenty of things to do.

If you want to purchase local goods, head to downtown Mill Valley. The cute square is filled with unique boutiques. Margaret O'Leary is a beloved local shop dedicated to interesting womenswear pieces. Celebrity chef Tyler Florence's flagship store is a great place to pick up cookbooks, culinary tools, and innovative spices. Around the corner is his wife Tolan Florence's neighborhood boutique, Moss & Daughters. It offers an eclectic mix of home goods and gifts.

Want to get active? Marin County has countless trails for walking, hiking, and biking. Check out the beauty of the redwoods in Muir Woods or climb Mount Tamalpias for a bird's eye view of the area. The region surrounding Stinson Beach is worth visiting, too. Hike 7.5 miles up the Palomarian Trailhead and you'll arrive at the stunning Alamere Falls.

For dining with a view, you can't go wrong with one of Sausalito's waterfront restaurants. Cavollo Point's large deck is the perfect place for a leisurely lunch on a sunny day. Tomales Bay is a seafood lover's paradise. Enjoy fresh shucked oysters at Hog Island's local farm or savor a bowl of clam chowder at Nick's Cove.

Kimberley Lovato

Marin County is just across the Golden Gate and San Franciscans love to head there for (often) warmer weather and great natural escapes. There is a lot to do, and a car is recommened for some. Here are a few of my favorite Marin musings.

The Town of Tiburon is accessible by ferry from downtown San Francisco, as well as by car from Highway 101. Here you'll find a waterfront town with a small main street, a waterfront promenade and stellar views of the bay. Have a bite to eat or drink on the back deck of Sam's Anchor Cafe, a popular sunny day destination for tourists and locals. The cute one room Railroad and Ferry Museum is free and fun to poke into, if only to learn about Tiburon's railroad history.

From San Francisco or Tiburon, head to Angel Island a state park and wonderful day out, rich in California history. The Island offers miles of hiking and biking trails, including to the top of Mount Livermore, the Island's highest point. The spectacular panoramic views are worth it. There is also a paved Perimeter Road around the entire island. It's not well knowns that Angel Island was an immigrant processing facility for hundreds of thousands of immigrand between1910 to 1940. It is now the site of a museum, renovated and reopened to the public in February 2009.

Hike Mount Tamalpais, or Mt. Tam as we call it. in Mount Tamalpais State Park. Within the park there 50 miles of hiking trails (that hook up to a network of over 200 miles of others), some easy and some not-so-much. Many offer sweeping views of the bay, the sea, or redwood groves. Or climb to the peak of Mt. Tam, only 2,571 feet!  A great place to start is Mountain Home Inn, a small B&B with large deck and trails that lead to and from the parking lot across the street. It's also a great place to meet and end with a nice cold drink.

Drive over to West Marin County, home to the small and charming towns of Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Olema, Inverness, Point Reyes Station, Marshall and Tomales, all on land that belongs to the Point Reyes National Seashore. Here you'll find undisturbed nature, magnificent views and hikes along the coast, and old California hospitality in the inns, shops, markets, and restaurants that populate the exquisite region.  

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