Stinson Beach is one of the finest beaches in northern California. A favorite with Bay Area locals, Stinson Beach also attracts a few day-tripping tourists thanks to its proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge. Named after Nathan H. Stinson, the man who bought this area in 1866, Stinson Beach has been under the protection of the National Park Service ever since 1977.
The beach itself is considered one of the oldest and cleanest sand beaches in The Golden State. Anyone interested in learning more about this well-hidden beach should keep on reading this article. Below, we’ll tell you all about the greatest things to do at Stinson Beach as well as the best ways to get here.
3 Most Popular Things to Do at Stinson Beach
Walk Along The Well-Maintained Beach
Of course, the main attraction here is Stinson Beach itself. This flat sand beach is very easy on the toes and is great for youngsters who want to build and destroy marvelous sand castles. Many surfers come here to test their skills on the waves, but you don’t have to surf to have a good time here.
Other fun activities at the beach are kayaking, boogie boarding, hang gliding, and playing beach volleyball. Also, don’t be surprised if you see a few incredible dolphins or seals appear in these waters. Some people have even spotted whales near Stinson Beach.
See The Famous Redwoods In Muir Woods National Park
Right behind Stinson Beach is the nationally protected Muir Woods National Park. This 560-acre wood adds a unique and refreshing ambiance to Stinson Beach’s backdrop. Many visitors to the area love taking a walk through Muir Woods National Park to marvel at the 500-plus year-old redwoods and pine trees.
There are many trails throughout this park that honor the legacy and vision of 19th century preservationist John Muir. There’s also a Visitor Center here where you can learn more about the importance of the flora and fauna in this beautiful National Park.
Climb To The Top Of Mount Tamalpais State Park
If you didn’t get your fill of California redwoods in Muir Woods National Park, then head on over to the nearby Mount Tamalpais State Park. Mt. Tamalpais State Park offers better panoramic views and steeper hiking opportunities than Muir Woods. In addition to redwood forests, Mt. Tamalpais State Park has numerous canyons and hillsides to marvel over.
People who climb all the way to the top of this mountain will be standing on a 2,571-foot peak and have great panoramic views of the Bay Area, the East Bay, and Marin County. If there’s not a ton of pollution in the air, you might even be able to see the Sierra Nevadas.
Other Things To Do at Stinson Beach
Learn About Frisco’s Past At Point Reyes Lighthouse
One of the most treacherous places to sail on the Pacific Coast is near Point Reyes. Not only is this area extremely foggy, it’s also the windiest area on the entire Pacific Coast. Point Reyes Lighthouse was built in 1870 to warn sailors traveling to and from this dangerous region of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Today Point Reyes Lighthouse serves as a fascinating museum for visitors to explore, making this one of the best things to to at Stinson Beach. You’ll learn all about how this lighthouse was designed in France and transported to San Francisco back in the late 1800s. You’ll also learn a great deal about how the U.S. Coast Guard has evolved over the years. Definitely put a stop at this lighthouse at the top of your “to do” list if you’re a history buff!
Check Out Local Wildlife At Audubon Canyon Ranch
Just three miles north of Stinson Beach you’ll find one of the best nature preserves in northern California: Audubon Canyon Ranch‘s (ACR) Martin Griffin Preserve. Established in the 1960s to help protect the Bolinas Lagoon, the ACR has grown over the years to include four marvelous nature preserves measuring around 5,000 acres.
The 1,000-acre Martin Griffin Preserve contains numerous exotic birds as well as a few fascinating reptiles. You’ll also enjoy stunning views of the ocean and a few evergreen forests. ACR hosts numerous programs throughout the year, so be sure to check their official website before you visit Stinson Beach.
See San Fran’s “English Countryside” At Bolinas Ridge
This high ridge is about a 20-mile drive from Stinson Beach proper. Although it’s a bit of a long hike (10.5 miles), you won’t be disappointed once you get to the top and enjoy your view. Believe it or not, many travelers say the view of Olema Valley from Bolinas Ridge’s peak is as close as you could get to the English countryside in America. The main trail up Bolinas Ridge begins in Samuel Taylor Park.
How To Get To Stinson Beach
Anyone traveling to Stinson Beach by plane will end up at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The nice thing about landing in SFO is that you’re a very short car ride away from Stinson Beach. Well, let’s be real, there’s no such thing as a “fast” car ride in San Francisco. You’ll most likely have to contend with a great deal of traffic on your way to the beach, so expect a one to two-hour car trip.
To drive from SFO to Stinson Beach, get onto US-101 N headed towards San Francisco and stay on for about 12 miles. Next, take Exit 434B on your left to get onto Octavia Boulevard. Take a left onto Fell Street, and then turn right onto Divisadero Street. After that, you’ll have to get onto Lombard Street on your left and stay on for about 8 miles. Drive towards Mill Valley via Exit 445B, then turn left onto Shoreline Highway. You’ll then have to take a slight right onto Panoramic Highway and stay on here for around 7 miles. Soon you’ll see Stinson Beach on the Calle del Sierra.
Stinson Beach isn’t first on most tourists’ lists of things to do in San Francisco. However, anyone into nature should really add it to their travel itinerary. It’s a great idea to head to Stinson Beach after your requisite trip to the Golden Gate Bridge. Stinson Beach is only about a one-mile drive away from San Fran’s iconic bridge.
Plus, as you read above, there are plenty of other things to do at Stinson Beach than just enjoying the beach. Whether you want to walk around a nature preserve, go mountain biking, or see rare animals in a local preserve, there are some incredible opportunities for exploration here. So, what are you waiting for? Book your flight to SFO ASAP!