Stinson Beach & Bolinas - California

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Along the Marin Coast

Stinson Beach is the first small town you reach when traveling along Highway 1 from the San Francisco area. It's at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais and is just north of the beach. The state beach is a day-use park, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Anglers fish for ling cod, cabezone, and blenny near the southern boundary of the park where it's rocky. The park is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm. This is a quaint little town, with several small cafes, and a bookstore.

Bolinas is off the highway via a short (unsigned) sideroad that leads around the north shore of Bolinas Bay. Bolinas people are a private bunch, and tourism has not always been welcomed, but there are accommodations here and the beach in front of the village offers good sunbathing, surfing and tidepools to explore during low-tide periods. There's usually good fishing for striped bass at the mouth of the lagoon. The western approach to the beach is close to Duxbury Reef. There are cafes in the town plus a small historical and art museum. Hikers will find the Palomarin Trail offers an excellent walk from the trailhead at the end of Mesa Road. Hike along the shore for 3.5 miles until you reach Bass Lake, a small scenic lake with alders and cattails along much of the shore.

A mile further is Pelican Lake, where water falls down the rocky cliff to the ocean. Another 1.5 miles is a secluded ocean beach via a short side trail which leads down a bluff. From the foot of the bluff, head south a quarter of a mile and you come to the impressive Alamere Falls, which forms a pool on the beach before running into the Pacific.

Where to Stay

For accommodation in Bolinas, try one of several B and B homes, including One Fifty-Five Pine (415-868-0263), a beach cottage overlooking the reef. Thomas' White House Inn 118 Kale Rd (415-868-0279) is a New-England style inn.

Stinson Beach is also a small community, and has only a few places to stay. The Ocean Court Motel (415-868-0212) has one-bedroom suites with kitchens and is close to the beach, restaurants and stores. Casa Del Mar (415-868-2124) is a bed & breakfast home, a 1925 Mediterranean villa overlooking a garden with good views. And if you are needing a rental home for a few days, or a week, there a beach house with a great view, three bedrooms, two baths, 3 decks, hot tub, and the beach. Call 415-383-7870. of go here.

For camping reservations at state park campgrounds in the area, call 800-444-PARK, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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