Last weekend it was my dear husband Max's birthday. He is one of those guys who is happiest outdoors and would rather have a hike or a kayak trip than a material gift. I really try hard to come up with ideas that are new and fun.
One place he hadn't experienced before, was Mount Tamalpais, just north of San Francisco. The four of us planned a little hike and picnic lunch for him.
Mount Tamalpais is easily accessible, just a bit North of San Francisco. There are hikes for all levels. The most popular is a 10 mile hike that takes about 4 hours or more. Since this was our first time, it was lightly raining, and one of our sons was experiencing horrible Spring allergies, we decided to do an easy trail.
You can drive almost to the top. We stopped at the East Peak Summit, where there is a Visitor Center and a museum/barn with relics from the former gravity car railroad that closed in the 1930s.
Can you imagine hiking in those corsets and heavy skirts?
From this point we hiked about half a mile up to the Lookout.
The views were unbelievable from the 2,571 foot peak. The trail is a bit rocky, but easy and once you get up, you can grab a boulder and have a rest.
With the amazing San Francisco Bay spread out before us, we ate our picnic. Up here one overlooks Sausalito and Tiburon to the left, the Golden Gate ahead and over to the far right, ships entering San Francisco Bay loomed. On a clear day you can see 25 miles out to the Farallon Islands, and on rare days all the way to Yosemite and the Sierras.
I look goofy with my 2 jackets and scarf. Can you tell I hate being cold?
We found this cool bus in the parking lot. SO Marin County and Northern Cal! Loved it.
After taking in the views, we drove down to the nearby little town of Mill Valley.
I adore how Mill Valley is nestled in between the hills here and yet so close to the beach.
The streets meander around canyon homes that make for some great house gawking.
Love the abundant plants that grow in this climate.
Downtown is a treasure trove of cafe's, unique shops and coffee stops.
Griffin and I had fun checking out the goods this surf wear store. (Sorry couldn't find or remember the name if anyone knows I'll add it!)
I want that sweatshirt!
I also stumbled upon a wonderful home store- Summerhouse. Gorgeous pillows and accessories here as well as beautiful antiques mixed in.
Tyler Florence's Store and Kitchen is in town as well, but under renovation right now.
Many charming and unique shops!
Nary a chain store to be found here, which is so cool.
One of my musts here is the old train depot, which has been turned into a bookstore/ coffee house. . .
You can sit out on a sunny day and a center plaza connects to this. Perfect for kids to run about while you have a latte, if you have young ones.
This bookstore is small, but holds some fun picks and also uniquely California items. I bought cards with Redwood woodcut drawings that were so pretty. I'm smitten with anything Redwood inspired. (Though, that exempts chain saw sculpted bears and the like, thank you.)
Mill Valley is a wonderful stop for lunch or a coffee break if you get up this way.
Other spots not to miss up this way are Muir Beach, and it's fabulous Pelican Inn, with it's authentic pub food, that can be enjoyed on the lawn on a sunny day.
Muir Woods is a must do and also has easy hikes if you aren't up for mountain trails, but want to see old-growth Redwoods. The pretty towns of Sausalito and Tiburon are wonderful destinations as well and all are bordered by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
All of these are within a short drive of San Francisco, just North of the Golden Gate.
I never tire of driving over this bridge. It's always a little thrill to me.
Hope you are enjoying your Spring Break if you are on it. I'm popping over to the beach for a little bit. Love to hear what you all are doing too.