Stinson Beach2018-10-16T20:38:17+00:00

Stinson Beach, California

Sausalito was laid in 1871, and soon after surveyor Alfred Easkoot was renting tents on the beach to tourists while adopting the pose of an waggish sea salt. Within a decade, “Captain” Easkoot’s encampment was challenged by a resort built by Nathan Stinson, whose Willow Camp also included a dance floor. On the beach itself, the sand dollars and limpet shells wash in for the taking. Surfers and boogie boarders often rule the surfline (despite the occasional white shark encounter).

Stinson would end up owning some 1,700 acres, including what’s become the town center. More than century later, perhaps Easkoot would be satisfied that at least the town’s creek carries his name. All the parking is near the southern end of the strand, which is owned by the federal government.

North of that, the County of Marin owns a stretch of it (technically called Upton’s Beach) and dogs are allowed there. Beyond that, to the mouth of Bolinas Lagoon, the beach is owned by the residents of the Seadrift subdivision.

There’s no direct public access to Seadrift Beach, and years of legal battles between various entities and Seadrift homeowners has yielded a compromise only a committee could love. Essentially, the public may use the beach, or at least the part below the mean hightide line (unmarked), and as long as they sort of keep moving. In practice, the arrangement works with few problems, which is surprising since on a clear on day, some 15,000 beachgoers might descend on the 1,000-person town.

The magnificent ridge that rises above Stinson is, like the beach below, federally owned as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A trail upward – the Matt Davis Trail – can be picked up near the community center. South of town along Highway 1 lies the bottom end of the two-plus-mile-long Steep Ravine Trail, which as the name implies, offers a easier hike downhill than up. Those wanting to tackle the trail from the other direction can start the descent from the Pantoll Ranger Station (altitude around 1,500 feet) on Panoramic Highway, which leaves Highway 1 in Stinson and scales the shoulder of Mount Tamalpais.

The town itself benefits from the healthy boosterism of its residents. A town park – the Village Green – is largely a product of volunteerism. So too is the new library in the unmistakable shell of an old convenience store. And where else could you find a place with no gas station and one ATM machine but several dynamite restaurants?

"The national seashore begins 25 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, and it must drive developers crazy to see it just lying there, virtually empty. Its natural state is a tribute to former President John F. Kennedy, who declared that the peninsula should be saved as a national treasure. He set aside nearly 80,000 acres for public use. The largest town at the edge of the park, Point Reyes Station, consists of a couple of dozen buildings that line both sides of Route 1."

- Washington Post

"Take the roads less traveled on this coastal road trip. From San Francisco, head north to discover secret wine country, driftwood strewn beaches and romantic coastal hamlets like Mendocino. Escape to cosy B&Bs and exclusive inns, paddle along a secret river, watch the horizon for spouting whales and watch the fog roll in at sunset."

- Visit California

"Making the world your oyster in Marshall (www.pointreyes.org/marshall-marin-county.html)
West Marin's coastal landscape, dominated by grazing land, dairy farms and the vast Point Reyes National Seashore, is the antithesis of the county's affluent inland cities. Marshall, at the north end of Tomales Bay, is where Marin's dairy industry started. Today, though, its fortunes rest with mollusks – about half the state's shellfish producers grow oysters, clams and mussels on the bay floor here. Buy them along the road to take home or rent a picnic spot to shuck and grill them yourself (shucking lessons available on request). Or splurge on a night or two in one of the impeccable stilted cottages over the bay water at Nick's Cove, which includes oysters upon arrival and has an oyster bar in the restaurant."

- SF Chronicle

" Stinson Beach, California - As with most West Coast shores, the hunting on Stinson Beach doesn't compare with that along the Gulf. Still, this beach just north of San Francisco does supply limpet shells and sand dollars―plus lots of surfers, a couple of nice seafood restaurants nearby, rugged natural beauty, and endearing small-town quirkiness."

- Coastal Living

From Travel & Leisure Magazine

Sun worshippers ready to escape San Francisco’s foggy wrath tend to fall back on familiar options, like the lovable but insanely crowded Stinson Beach to the north, or Santa Cruz’s classic boardwalk to the south. This Memorial Day, veer ever-so-slightly from the beaten track for these alluring, under-the-radar beach town alternatives:

Marshall

Just 10 miles up the coast from its touristy neighbor Point Reyes Station, Marshall lures locals for its water-to-table fare and panoramic views of Tomales Bay. Watch fisherman haul in buckets of fresh shellfish from your perch on the sprawling deck at Nick’s Cove restaurant, or buy a sack of buttery-briny kumamoto oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. and shuck them yourself at their bayside BYOP (Bring Your Own Picnic) tables.

Bolinas

Notoriously reclusive residents and unmarked roads deter the masses from Bolinas, leaving its enchanting beach and meandering coastal trails pleasantly void of Memorial Day crowds. Two Mile Surf Shop provides surfboard rentals for cruising the beach break, or trek one of Northern California’s most photogenic coastal hikes by following the Palomarin Trailhead at the end of Mesa Road to the remote and swimmable Bass Lake.