We recently stayed in Stinson Beach, located in West Marin County just north of San Francisco. While in the Bay Area, we’d met a realtor/artist who asked us to review Sea Blue and the surrounding Stinson Beach area. We took up the challenge and we’re glad we did, because there are great things to do (and eat) in West Marin County!
If you’re headed to Stinson Beach, the first destination is obviously the beach. This beach has soft sand–unique compared to California’s usually rocky coastline–and it’s relatively secluded and peaceful. We saw nearly every type of beach activity, so bring your boogie board, kites, volleyball–you name it–for a fun afternoon.
Hungry? Within Stinson Beach, we recommend a quick pitstop at the Parkside Snack Bar for soft serve on a cone. For a heartier lunch, head to Lunch Box, a mom-and-pop deli with a twist (we hear their Salmon Poboy is a must).
For a sit-down lunch with a classic California farm-to-table experience, go to Parkside Cafe. We got the beet salad (pictured below) and we loved it. The asparagus salad with quinoa was also a knockout. If you can grab breakfast here, try it— the menu left us drooling.
Seafood lovers should go to the 1921 classic Sand Dollar (they have the coveted URL stinsonbeachrestaurant.com). Their patio is built from three old barges and provides a rustic nautical experience. We loved their cioppino, sourdough bread and–of course–ice cold beer–all pictured below:
If you want to venture further, we recommend starting with Mount Tamalpais (aka “Mt. Tam”) and Muir Woods. Stinson Beach sits at the base of hills that lead up to these two parks–it’s an easy morning or afternoon excursion.
Redwood Trees in Muir Woods:
Mt. Tam and Muir Woods are especially popular among San Francisco Bay Area locals, since they’re within a quick drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.
A view of San Francisco from the hills near Mt. Tam:
After a hike, head up the road for beautiful scenic views of ranch country. There are a lot of food producers here, so it’s easy to nab fresh farm-to-table fare including local cheese, local oysters and local wine.
Right up Hwy 1 is Point Reyes Station, home to Cowgirl Creamery, one of the Bay Area’s most celebrated local artisan organic cheese purveyors. Their cheese is made on-site, and the people here really know their stuff.
Head to Point Reyes’ Bovine Bakery for an epic morning bun. Careful–they only make 6 or 7 giant trays of morning buns on any given weekday and they go fast!
Bovine Bakery’s addictive Morning Bun:
A few more minutes north on Highway 1 you reach Tomales Bay, a big oyster exporter. Roadside oyster shacks serve up fresh oysters from right off shore. Although local eatery Hog Island is probably the biggest and most popular, we loved the Marshall Store (it’s cash only, but they have an ATM).
Fresh oysters on the Marshall Store’s outdoor patio:
From Highway 1 just north of Tomales Bay, take the Marshal-Petaluma Road inland toward Petaluma. There are several roads you can take, but this one was recommended the most by a few locals we met a long the way. The Marshal-Petaluma Road crosses through hills and valleys dotted with farm houses, cattle, horses and sheep grazing in pastures–it makes for a scenic drive (or bike ride).
A view from the Marshal-Petaluma Road:
In Petaluma, head to Lagunitas Brewing Company (we adore their hoppy Lil’ Sumpin’). We recommend the back patio for beer tastings and roasted peanuts. It’s a casual place to unwind: we spotted groups whiling away the afternoon, and a few friendly dogs catching naps at their owners’ feet.
Lagunitas Brewery’s Beer Sampler:
This is a LOT to do! Between all the hiking and eating, it’s easy to spread this out over a few days.
After all our exploring, we were ready to head back to Stinson Beach and watch the waves (and a little blue bird) from our back patio at Sea Blue.