2. Sausalito and Muir Woods, California

Overview:
I’ve been to San Francisco a couple times now, and so this time, on my one free day before a conference for work, I decided to check out points north. Between the views and the woods, I’m very glad I did.

How I got there:
After landing at the San Francisco airport, I rented a car and drove north. It’s a really pretty drive of just under an hour that takes you across the Golden Gate Bridge. (Warning: I paid a toll in cash somewhere along the way, and if I hadn’t had the money on me, it would have been a $30 pay-it-later toll).

What I did:
My first stop after acquiring food was Muir Woods National Monument–a.k.a. the redwood trees. While the largest trees are farther north–in Redwood National Park–the ones in Muir Woods are still gigantic and like nothing I’d ever seen before. I made a loop, following the wood-planked trail until the fourth bridge and then coming back around, and it took about an hour–though that could completely vary depending on how long you stay to marvel.

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This was easily one of my favorite nature walks I’ve ever done–perhaps topped only by last year’s walk from Lands End to the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s something about being among the trees in this part of the country. The fact that it’s cool, damp and quiet is definitely part of it.

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Next, I raced down to Vista Point, which is right next to the Golden Gate Bridge on the Sausalito side (raced because I wanted to see the Packers game, and despite what I said in my last post on this subject, I didn’t really think I should watch the NFL playoffs in the woods–and also there was no service). The view was well worth the stop; it’s completely different from the others I’d seen at Lands End and elsewhere.

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From there I drove back up to Sausalito proper, watched the end of the game, and walked around a little. Sausalito lines the water, so the bay views are fantastic, and it has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants that I’m sure are great on evenings when it’s a little warmer.

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The one store I wanted to stop into, though, wasn’t in the central downtown area; it was the Heath Ceramics factory, where I walked around wishing I had the reason or resources to throw around hundreds of dollars on minimalist dinnerware.

Where I ate:
Before heading over to Muir Woods, I stopped at the Marin location of Farmshop, a locally sourcing restaurant with life-changing avocado hummus.

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What I missed:
While I did a good job exploring the National Monument section of Muir Woods, there are tons of other trails you can follow that take you into state parks. I’m sure you could easily spend an entire day there.


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