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California's Highway One sneaks over the last coastal ridge west of Mill Valley and descends like a falling ribbon to Marin County's Muir Beach, a small hamlet that shares a zip code with Sausalito but it is more typical of the towns and villages that dot Highway 1 from there north. (Indeed, the next truly urban area on the coast road is along the Puget Sound).

The beach at Muir Beach is not vast; well-tended, oceanview homes flank one side while a couple of hundred feet south, trails climb up along the bluffs of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.


Lodging & Restaurant
Pelican Inn
The signature business in town is the Pelican Inn, a Tudor-style lodge plus eatery that often has live music and always offers fine imports on tap. About two miles inland lies Muir Woods National Monument, a 550-acre gift to the federal government in 1907 by Marin's prominent Kent family. There's a store and a snack bar but the draw is imposing coast redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, many of them 20 stories tall and some as old as the Magna Carta. The main groves have been likened to cathedrals but they're more impressive than that; when you're standing in the cool, muffled shadows, it seems that even sound and light have paused to show respect.

Muir Woods is open 8 a.m. to dusk. Admission is $7 for adults. The number for more information is (415) 388-2595.

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