WHEN PEOPLE VISIT SAN FRANCISCO, they usually stay in the city itself. Yes, it’s one of the world’s most exciting metropolises, but that means constant noise, constant traffic, and consistently astronomical prices. And while you could spend weeks in San Francisco proper without running out of things to do, there’s far more to experience in the Bay Area.
Marin is just a few minutes outside of the city (cross the Golden Gate and you’re there) and, with over 75% open space, gives you the San Francisco experience with an easy option for escape when you need it. You’ll find plenty of artisanal cheese makers and oyster shuckers here as well, it’s also the source for the city’s food culture.
A night spent in Marin County could mean a hotel, a houseboat in the bay, or a hike-in lodge overlooking the ocean. However it unfolds for your visit, here are some compelling reasons why your best home base during a trip to San Francisco is its neighbor to the north, Marin.
It’s not concrete — it’s green.
Although Marin is only three watery miles from San Francisco, it’s a world apart. The horizons widen immediately as you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, with
Marin was relatively lightly settled until construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937. Once the bridge opened, Marin’s citizens moved quickly to protect the county, which today comprises part of the federal Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods National Monument; six state parks including Mt. Tamalpais, Samuel P. Taylor, Tomales Bay, and Angel Island; and an extensive network of county-run natural areas. It only takes a few minutes to travel from the pounding Pacific to the gentle lapping of the northern reaches of San Francisco Bay, with redwood forests, rolling oak woodlands, and farmland in between.
This is where the outdoor sports action is.
Marinites have been finding new ways to enjoy the combination of bluffs and beaches for a long time; the county is the birthplace of mountain biking and is the home of the
Marin is home to the oldest trail race in the US, the
Marin is surrounded by water on three sides. Sail SF Bay with
It’s far enough away to have its own wildlife, too.
While the only salmon you’ll see in San Francisco is on your plate, Marin has the most significant coho salmon run in the Central Coast area of California. The fish are easily visible starting around January, depending on when (and, these past few years, if) the rains arrive — it’s a weirdly moving experience to see the determined fish thrash upstream toward their spawning grounds.
From December through March, huge
There are tons of historic and fascinating places to stay.
San Francisco has plenty of swanky hotels, but
Want to be closer to San Francisco? There’s another hostel in the Headlands,
Your food won’t travel far to your plate.
San Francisco is well known for its foodie scene, but, as is true with most cities, nearly all of the raw ingredients come from outlying areas. Marin is home to many locally famous farms and ranches; stay here and you’ll be that much closer to the source. The San Francisco Zen Center’s
There are quite a few cheese makers in Marin, making for one excellent local dairy scene. Check out