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Escape to Marin for a Winter Weekend Getaway

36 hours on the "sunny side of the Golden Gate Bridge."

As a northern latitude dweller, there comes a time each winter where I long to feel the sun on my bare arms and stretch out my legs on a seaside trail. One of my favorite places to escape the chilly doldrums is Marin County, a destination so close to San Francisco that you can practically taste the fresh oysters from the Haight. 

This winter, make your way across the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy the perfect antidote to the winter blues.

Friday Afternoon

Photo by Josiah Roe // Adventure: Catch a Sunrise at Hawk Hill

Marin County is a quick hop from anywhere in Bay Area, including the San Francisco International Airport. Drive north out of the city and across Golden Gate Bridge. You won't be able to take a photo while you're driving, so stop at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center for great views of the bridge and San Francisco.

For dinner, you can't go wrong with a meal in charming Mill Valley. From delicious Mexican food, to fancy cocktails, to wood fired pizza, this quaint town is a joy to visit and offers food options for everyone. With a full stomach, head to your lodgings for the night. There are plenty of great hotels in Marin County, along with a handful of campgrounds that are open year-round, including Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

Saturday Morning

Photo by Julie & Brian // Adventure: Hike to Elephant Seal Overlook

Make your way to the town of Point Reyes Station to start your day. Fuel up with coffee and pastries at Bovine Bakery (while you're there, grab a few of their divine ginger cookies), and then head into the Point Reyes National Seashore.

If a perfectly Instagrammable moment is what you're craving, don't miss the chance to check out the Cypress Tree Tunnel. After you've snapped that perfect shot, continue into the park and spend your morning exploring. Stop at the Point Reyes Lighthouse and watch for migrating California gray whales, who pass through from December to April. Take the short hike to Elephant Seal Overlook and listen to the seal's bark as they bask on the small, rocky beach.

For a more challenging hike, the 9.5-mile round trip Tomales Point Trail should do the trick.

Saturday Afternoon

Photo by Tyler Drake // Adventure: Hike Cataract Falls

You can make the afternoon either about eating and drinking, or exploring. Choose your own adventure!

If you like the sound of eating and drinking, I hope you stretched your stomach in preparation. Marin County is full of local producers who would love to bring you on a culinary journey. Cowgirl Creamery & Catina in Point Reyes Station offers a view into the process of making their famous Mt Tam cheese and serves up samples in their shop. Nearby Heidrun Meadery offers tours and tastings of their Champagne-style mead by reservation. To see a bit of it all, book a tour with Food & Farm Tours.

If more exploration is what you crave, how about a waterfall hike? Winter in Marin County is one of the lushest seasons, and the waterfalls are flowing at peak capacity. The trail to Alamere Falls is a popular one, but seeing a waterfall cascade directly into the ocean is worth it. Cataract Falls is a good workout...and an even better view when you reach the end.

Saturday Evening

Photo by Sara Sheehy // Oysters at The Marshall Store

Oysters are the seafood of choice in Marin County, and you can't go wrong with a visit to The Marshall Store. Bring a bottle of wine and sit on the deck overlooking the oyster beds while enjoying a plate full of the freshest oysters you'll ever taste.

Make the most of your day by booking a bioluminescence kayak on North Bay with Blue Waters Kayaking. See blue flickers and trails in the calm water as you paddle underneath an expansive, star-filled sky.

Sunday Morning

Photo by Tyler Drake // Adventure: Explore Muir Woods National Monument

Finish your trip with a visit to Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods is full of 1,000-year-old redwood trees, and the forest canopy can reach 260 feet high. Winter is the perfect time to visit Muir Woods when this popular park is a bit less crowded. Still, it pays to plan ahead for Muir Woods!

With your legs tired and your camera full, make your way back home and start planning your next trip.

Looking for even more adventures in Marin County? Check out 9 Gorgeous Beach Adventures in Marin County, 7 Beautiful Spots for Photography in Marin County, and 10 Must-Do Adventures in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Cover photo by Tyler Drake

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Sara SheehyAdmin

Writer | Nomad