Motherhood

Awesome Vacation Idea: Stinson Beach

Are you planning any vacations this year? Travel is fun to daydream about during gray January, so I decided to ask a few friends to reveal the vacation spots they remember most fondly. First up, Liz Stanley from Say Yes to Hoboken raves about Stinson Beach, just thirty minutes from San Francisco…

STINSON BEACH MINI TRAVEL GUIDE
By Liz Stanley

My favorite getaway from San Francisco is a beautiful coastal town called Stinson Beach. Not only is it a quaint little town, it’s also a great home base to explore the areas of Bolinas Bay, Tomales Bay and the stunning coastline of Point Reyes.

One time we rented these little cabins just two blocks from the beach. Each cabin had 1 or 2 bedrooms, a huge shared deck and sliding glass doors for a sweeping view of the ocean and Mt. Tam. They make perfect accommodations for multiple families traveling together.

The property even had lemon trees, so we made freshly squeezed lemonade!

If you’d prefer to camp, you can also reserve camping spots at Steep Ravine, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever camped (and we camp a lot!). The campsites are perched on rocky cliffs overlooking Stinson Beach. You can also reserve primitive cabins.

Stinson Beach itself is perfect for kids—small waves and soft sand, with plenty of room to roam and build sand castles. Sharks are really common in that part of the coast, so we don’t swim too much, but it doesn’t usually get hot enough for that anyway.

After the beach, Parkside Cafe is a great place to grab lunch and a milkshake (their soft-serve is delicious!). It’s right by the beach parking lot so it couldn’t be more convenient. Other hotspots in Stinson Beach are the Breakers Cafe, San Dollar Restaurant and Surfer’s Grill. There’s also a great farmer’s market on weekends for fresh produce.

Last time we were there, the craziest thing happened. A baby white shark accidentally beached itself in shallow water. It was still alive and having a hard time getting back beyond the waves. Poor little guy!

As you can imagine, it created quite a scene! Several people tried to pick it up and help it back—they were so brave. My son wanted to get as far away as possible, but the kids still talk about that baby white shark they saw—it was swimming right at our feet!

Bolinas Bay is just a few miles away, although it’s hard to find because the protective residents of Bolinas Bay—who know what a treasure it is—have taken down any signs leading to their town along Highway 1! You have to use a GPS or smartphone to find your way. The Bolinas Lagoon Preserve is worth a stop for bird watching, and Agate Beach Park has amazing tide pools.

Continuing north on Highway 1 for about thirty minutes takes you Inverness and Tomales Bay, which are great places to head if Stinson is cloudy or windy. They’re often sunny and warm, and you can let the kids play in the calm bay waters. It’s also an awesome spot for kayaking (check out Blue Water Kayak), and be sure to stop by Tomales Bay Oyster Company or Drake’s Bay Cafe for a bite to eat. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even kayak across the bay and camp on the other side!

Point Reyes, an hour north of Stinson Beach, is worth the drive to see the incredible shoreline and lovely lighthouse. The Point Reyes lighthouse is the foggiest place on the North American continent and the windiest spot on the Pacific Coast, so dress warmly. There are lots of places to hike around Mt Tam, so bring some hiking shoes. My favorite hike is the Point Reyes Tomales Point trail through the elk refuge. You feel like you’re at the end of the earth!

Thank you so much, Liz! What a fantastic vacation spot.

P.S. More travel fantasies, if you’re feeling wanderlusty…

(Photos by Liz Stanley, except the Parkside Cafe brunch photo by Identical Eye)

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  6. I want to thank Dr.Kuma for getting my lover back to me within 49hours.When my lover left me i was so tired and frustrated till i search the internet for help and i saw so many good talk about Dr Kuma of Kumalovespell@gmail.com and i decided to give him a try and i contact him and explain my problems to him and he cast a love spell for my which i use to get my husband back.If you want to get your lover back contact Dr.Kuma via email: Kumalovespell@gmail.com Dr.Kuma the great man that is able to bring back lost love.

  7. The great Dr.Kwale everyone has been talking about on the internet has also help me with his love spell last week Wednesday he restore my broken relationship and brought my ex back to me. i have been with a broken heart for the past 6months after my boyfriend broke up with me but after i have read online about Dr.Kwale love spell i was really pleased to contact him for the chance that i have got to get my ex back, after Dr.Kwale has cast the spell for me my boyfriend came back to me after 2days which is last week Friday. With so much joy in my heart i want to appreciate Dr.Kwale for his great help he render to me. incase you need his help you can also contact him via his email address kwaletemple@gmail.com or call him on his mobile number +2348056141089.

    Bree Danny

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  9. Priscilla Newman from (San Jose, CA) I have lost the love of my life. My five (5)years husband somehow all of the sudden changed, and left home. He went to live with some other girl. He was like a different person. Priest Hallifat found out that our relationship has been damaged by this third person into our relationship. He guided me, and took care of everything, and my husband came back home. Now, he is the best husband, and father. Thank goes to Priest Hallifat , Priest personal Email: (lifecentre@live.com)

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  15. Hello everyone,
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  16. Stinson Beach is Wonderful place to spend our Vocation.I like this place..Visit My Website

  17. My Name is Janet Brown
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  18. MY NAME IS ROSE LENNY FROM ONTARIO IN UK I WANT TO GIVE THANKS TO PRIEST DR OGBU FOR BRING BACK MY HUSBAND BACK TO ME IN JUST 2DAYS,NOW MY HUSBAND LOVES ME MORE THAN BEFORE AND ALSO RESPECT MY DESIRES. CONTACT HIM FOR ANY KIND OF SPELL VIA EMAIL:
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  19. I am Crysel from UK, wants to say a big thank you thank you thank you to Dr. Ikhine spell for everything. To everyone who doesn’t believe in spell, I was one of those ones at first. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to do this since I’ve tried others so-called spells casters and they did not work and was a waste of my time and money. However, when I read through the testimonies of other people at this website and after I talked to Dr. Ikhine who answered all my questions and was very nice and sincere about everything, I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be my last try to get my Lover back. So my story is that I was at my office when the man I am in love with told me that he wasn’t in love with me and never will it be and that he didn’t want to speak or see me again,
    especially since he was talking to this other girl.
    When I talked to Dr. Ikhine about it, he let me
    know which spells would be most appropriate for
    me and I chose the ones that was to get him
    back to me and stay with me and want to marry
    me. As soon as he started on the spells, my lover
    came back into my life! It was a miracle to me
    and I’m so thankful to Dr Ikhine. Since them things has been going on well, according to what Dr. Ikhine said is going to be. He’s always there
    when you need him,you can contact him via agbadado@gmail.com or call him +2347060552255.

  20. Good Day everybody, my names is NICHOLAS LINDA, am from the United State of America, i want to give thanks and honor to Dr. Taju for the great work he did for me, he brought my lover within 24 hours which i never taught it will ever come through in my life, but this great man Dr. Taju proved to me that powers can do wonders, i got his contact from a friend in the USA who he helped, this friend of mine told me that this man is great but i felt as hmm are you sure? cause i hardly believe those kind of things,so she told me not to worry that when i contact him, that she is guaranteeing me 100% that my lover will come back that if it does not work that she will be the one to give me back my money, to show her sincerity to me, she gave me her car that if it does not work that and she did not pay me the money that i spent that she i should collect her car and she gave me all the documents, i was so so surprised she was very serious about it so that was how i contacted him and i told him what i want he just told me that everything will be done within 24 hours so with the assurance my friend gave me i was having confident, so in the next 24 hours that he told me i just heard a knock on my door i never knew it was mark, so that was how i opened the door the first thing he did was to go on his knees, he started begging me to forgive him that he is very sorry for everything, i was really surprised and was also happy, so that was how i forgived him and now we are living together happily than ever before, and am using the media to invite my friends on my wedding which will coming up on 24/12/2013, am very happy thanks be to Lucy who gave me his contact and honor be onto Great DR. TAJU who helped a lot, if you need his help or you want to thank him for me you can contact him through drtajulovespllhome@gmail.com or cell number +2348113018013.

  21. I am Crysel from Canada, wants to say a big thank you thankyou thank you to Dr. Ikhine spell for everything. To everyone who doesn’t believe in spell, I was one of those ones at first. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to do this since I’ve tried others so-called spells casters and they did not work and was a waste of my time and money. However, when I read through the testimonies of other people at this website and after I talked to Dr. Ikhine who answered all my questions and was very nice and sincere about everything, I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be my last try to get my Lover back. So my story is that I was at my office when the man I am in love with told me that he wasn’t in love with me and never will it be and that he didn’t want to speak or see me again,
    especially since he was talking to this other girl.
    When I talked to Dr. Ikhine about it, he let me
    know which spells would be most appropriate for
    me and I chose the ones that was to get him
    back to me and stay with me and want to marry
    me. As soon as he started on the spells, my lover
    came back into my life! It was a miracle to me
    and I’m so thankful to Dr Ikhine. Since them things has been going on well, according to what Dr. Ikhine said is going to be. He’s always there
    when you need him,you can contact him via agbadado@gmail.com or call him +2347060552255.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Vacation rentals are sometimes called holiday rentals, villa rentals, self-catering rentals, holiday villas, agriturism, gites, etc… In certain countries, including Spain, Beach Vacation Rental France, Ireland, and England, the government sponsors its own vacation rental programs. Other governments certify rental locations or promote properties to attract tourists.

  24. The place looks awesome and the cabin looks nice as well, i love that there is a deck although it is shared, doesn’t really matter. I just wished you had pictures of the cabin. I was amazed about the shark encounter you and your son had. Good thing it was a small one. Would have been scary if it were huge.

    OregonShoresVacationRentals.com

  25. It’s the first time i heard about Stinson beach. It looks like an awesome place and about the baby shark, good thing that it was just a baby! It would be scary if it was a huge shark swimming around you but it will be an experience i guess you and your son will never forget. The pictures did tell you had a blast!

    OregonShoresVacationRentals.com

  26. I love Stinson, it helps I grew 20 minutes inland from it and know all the back roads. Be ready for fog and wind all year round, I still laugh at pictures from high school where the sky is beautiful but everyone is covered up hiding from the wind!

  27. Stinson is definitely fantastic, but I’d also recommend Dillon Beach.
    And summer is a very foggy time for our Nor Cal beaches, the warm weather inland creates lots of fog at the coast, but right now is a great time to visit! Winter, Spring and Fall are all lovely!

    http://goldendreamland.blogspot.com/

  28. Love that this great Marin County spot is getting a great review! Come visit Joanna!

  29. I lived there several years. Stinson is a beautiful place to be!

  30. I live in Muir Beach a little south of Stinson and can tell you the beach here does not have the same shark problem. The water however is very cold, although little kids still seem to love it!

    -MaryBeth
    lifeandstyleafter40.com

  31. A couple years ago, my husband and I had just gone hiking in Mount Tamalpais with a friend that was visiting CA for the first time. We decided to find a nearby beach and enjoy the sunset, and we happened to end up at Stinson beach! Even though it was in January, we had warm and sunny weather all week long. We also got to see one of the most beautiful sunset we had seen in awhile.

    I also loved Point Reyes. We went there a different time, in the spring. She is right, it is SO foggy. But because of the fog, it was absolutely breathtaking.

    I was able to leave from both places with stunning photographs. I would share, but my facebook albums are private. If you want to email me, I can definitely share that way!

  32. If you think Roger`s story is unbelievable…, last pay check my girl friends mom basically also actually earnt $7351 grafting twenty hours a week in their apartment and the’re roomate’s mom`s neighbour done this for 8-months and earnt more than $7351 in there spare time online. applie the instructions available at this link-=-=- BIT40.COM -=-=-

  33. So lovely. And for some reason, the way you’ve described it as “sharky” makes it less scary. :)

    In love with the sandals your kids are wearing! Where are those from, and do they make them for adults?!?

  34. oh yes, stinson beach and point reyes are SO lovely. the whole area is beautiful and well worth a visit. it’s true that the weather is hit or miss though. but there are plenty of options when the summer fog hits the coast: if you’re a sunseeker (it’s california, i understand ;D) just head inlands..there’s almost always a sunny spot within a two hour drive from san francisco. if you’re looking for pictures of the bay area and beyond feel free to check out the constant flow of pictures on my photoblog http://piavalesca.tumblr.com/ – we’re living the expat life in the bay area and are discovering new places all the time..enjoy! (so do we =) xX pia

  35. I just wanted to tell you that I am finally taking your Palm Springs recommendation to action and we are going in March!! We need a warm getaway with our 1 year old and after seeing your posts with Toby I new it would be the right fit for us. Thanks again and I can’t wait!!!

  36. You’ve got really cool pictures. I’m envious. I wanna spend holiday in that place too. South West Holiday Lets would not be a bad vacation place. I would be having a great time in there too.

  37. We camped at Steep Ravine last year and it was so incredible! Definitely stop for oysters at The Marshall Store and Hog Island Oysters near Pt. Reyes. We live in the Bay Area and these places are such a treasure!

  38. We camped at Steep Ravine last year and it was so incredible! Definitely stop for oysters at The Marshall Store and Hog Island Oysters near Pt. Reyes. We live in the Bay Area and these places are such a treasure!

  39. This makes me miss living in The Bay. We visited Stinson beach often, as well as Mt. Tam, Point Reyes, and all of the other places you mentioned. All beautiful, peaceful, and well worth the winding roads to get there ;)

  40. Although I haven’t actually stayed there, I’ve been there for a day trip and I can attest to the loveliness of Stinson Beach.

  41. This looks like a great place to visit! I’m not sure I’ll be vacationing this year (we might be moving somewhere far away instead), but this area always sounded really nice and relaxing to me. ~Heather P.

    http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com

  42. This part of California is one of my favorite places on earth. I have so many great memories of camping at the nearby Samuel P. Taylor state park (which I believe has now fallen victim to state budget cuts) and making day trips to Stinson Beach and Point Reyes.

    • Also, the Point Reyes visitor center is great for kids!

  43. This makes me so happy – I don’t get back to my NorCal roots much now that I’m living happily ever after in Europe, but Stinson Beach holds so many sweet memories of family, sun, and sand.

  44. how lovely does that place sound?
    you should definitely do more of these, i am a travel daydreamer and have SO many trips planned for this year. in the summer i’m off across eastern europe, taking in 5 countries in 10 days, and towards the end of summer i’m doing another 10 day trip across spain taking in 5 cities! very excited about those trips!

  45. Could I do you one of these posts for Sydney?

  46. great inspiration

  47. Love Stinson beach, great post for us San Franciscan readers! My only problem with Stinson beach is the fog, I’m such a sun worshiper if I’m leaving the city I want some sunshine!

  48. I was in California over the summer and our family friends took us to a hike that led right to Stinson Beach! We ate at Parkside Cafe afterwards which was perfect for a casual outdoor brunch. I didn’t know it was also a vacation spot but we really enjoyed our time at Stinson Beach!

  49. Thanks for the great idea! I moved to SF over a year ago and we have been exploring the area ever since. There is so much to see! I’ll just have to add this to the list.

  50. I went to Stinson Beach & Point Reyes just last July. So beautiful and fun! I love the people out there. It was incredibly foggy when I went with my fam but still beautiful. Just a little chilly for swimming, but we did anyway :)

  51. Nice post :) I plan to travel to Honduras, Vegas, NZ and Paris this year. xA

  52. For campers in Tomales, Lawson’s Landing is a great kind of funny area for spot–a little redneck, a lot awesome, and right on the beach. (You aren’t assigned a camping spot, just stake out a spot you like and find a nearby firepit.) Tomales Deli and Cafe is tasty too. : )

    http://drydenlane.tumblr.com

  53. PERFECT timing, Joanna! We are celebrating 10 years of marriage this year & can no longer make the Italy trip we’d planned all along :( But still want to make it memorable. Fingers-crossed THE place shows up this week on your blog!

  54. We are so flattered to see a photo of ours on your site. We’ve been fans of your blog (& stinson beach- almost stayed in one of those bungalows!!) for years…Thanks for the continued inspiration.

    warmly,
    sara & karen

  55. No, no, you’ll all hate it here. You’ll get car sick on the way, the fog will disappoint you, the sharks will eat you… Surely there’s a nice beach in LA you might like to check out. ;)

    • Hahahahahaha

      yeah, what she said!

  56. Pt. Reyes Station is worth stopping at as well. There is Cowgirl Creamery, The Pinecone Cafe for amazing honey whole wheat pancakes, and The Bovine Bakery with the best pizza slices and buttermilk scones, also great homemade chai. I love West Marin, great post!

  57. Pt. Reyes Station is worth stopping at as well. There is Cowgirl Creamery, The Pinecone Cafe for amazing honey whole wheat pancakes, and The Bovine Bakery with the best pizza slices and buttermilk scones, also great homemade chai. I love West Marin, great post!

  58. oh, my husband and i have planned a little vacation to california every january since we have been dating – one of these years we will just book it and go. january is so full of cold, gray, post-holiday doldrums – a little vacation seems to be what everyone is craving.

  59. Every summer my friends & I grab our bathing suits, towels, & hats to drive over to Stinson. We love it and it feels as if we’re on a vacation even though we are super close to home.

    x’s & o’s
    Anacristina
    laughsandicecream.blogspot.com

  60. Looks amazing!

  61. Great suggestions! Wandering through that part of Northern California will also give visitors another picture of the state. No, we’re not all farmers and movie stars ;)

    • One thing to make sure and note. All places mentioned are FREEZING. Not like east coast in a snow storm cold, but my Boston boy has never been colder than in some spots in NorCal.

    • The weather is hit or miss. Seriously, you can have a 50-something degree day, any day of the year, which feels really cold when your mindset is summer. FREEZING is a good description. You can also luck out and get amazing perfect weather too. Stinson Beach Reality has rentals right on the beach – and the best time to go is late-Sept. and October. Stay a week. It’s our low key, west coast version of the Hamptons…
      http://naturallightphotography.com

  62. This sounds so delightful right now! Over the summer, my family rented a beach house on New Smyrna Beach and went swimming every morning until lunch, then went out before dinner too! One day it was really gray and gloom and several of us *swear* something large and smooth and living rubbed against our ankles! Eeps!

  63. I have been feeling particularly wanderlusty recently. I think it’s because at the moment I can’t travel as I’m due to give birth in a few weeks. The place I have been dreaming of the most is Antibes in the south of France. It’s beautiful, beachy, lovely food and you can get the train to Nice, Cannes and many other lovely towns along the Cote d’Azzure. I’m going to have to make sure this baby likes to travel :-)

  64. Loved this post! My husband and I got married 5 years ago at the Stinson Beach Community Center and then had our photographs taken right on the beach. This town will always have a special place in my heart!

  65. I absolutely love Stinson Beach and have many fond memories from the time I lived in Northern Cali. We used to find dead dog fish on the beach, which was cool, until you got in the water and imagined the live ones swimming around your ankles! I hope the baby White got back out to sea!

  66. Stinson beach is spectacular but I think the shark warning here isn’t too detailed. There is a giant sign in the parking lot that literally says “DO NOT SWIM HERE” because of the shark population. The beach itself is probably good for kids, as long as you keep them completely out of the water.

  67. I have never heard of Stinton Beach! Thank you for sharing!

    • oops I mean stinson lol

  68. how about some close trips to get away from our beloved nyc, jo?! :)

  69. My family has been going here for over 30 years as a yearly family vacation spot in the summer. Without a doubt, this has to be one of my favorite places in the world. Seeing this post made my day.

  70. I have never heard of Stinson Beach before. I love the look of it though. It looks like a nice peaceful coastal town.

  71. This looks so fabulous! I also have to dream about travel during these gray, long days. I want to go to there (to quote Liz Lemon)!

  72. If you are driving from 101 to 1 make sure you bring some Dramamine. It is a pretty twisty road. Mill Valley and Sausalito are fun places nearby.

  73. This looks incredible!! I remember emailing Aron the cottage photos when Liz first mentioned them and we were just getting ready to move back to CA. So excited for visiting these local treasures!

  74. The part about the shark getting beached just makes me want to quote Seinfeld: “Is anyone here a marine biologist??” …but for reals, I want to go to this place now. I love the coast.

  75. I’m in love and already excited for summer! Thanks, Jo!

    I love Santa Fe, in part because it’s near enough to drive in half a day and partly because it’s exotic yet familiar. Plus, the odd streets and small-town feel are charming.

  76. I have the WORST case of wanderlust…like all the time, so this series is going to be perfect for me. Very cool! I leave Sunday for Peru, and I’m SO SO excited. My husband and another couple and I are going to hike the Inca trail and then spend a week in Mancora at the beach. YAY!

  77. I’ve been dreaming about a vacation. Right now we’re thinking of visiting family in Virginia (and going to the outter banks) come spring. This time of year always gets me planning vacations, I think it’s that springtime is teasingly close.

  78. i surf at bolinas almost every weekend. both bolinas and stinson are beautiful little beach towns! happy to see them on your blog.

  79. That’s crazy about the baby shark! But it makes me think that mama shark must have been waiting just beyond the point where the water got too shallow, unable to help her baby… I hope people were safe about getting the baby back into deep waters!

  80. Awww, we just took a day trip up to Marin on Sunday and bypassed Stinson Beach because we didn’t know anything about it. The weather on Sunday was fabulous–sunny and 65– and I’m sure it would’ve been the perfect day. Oh well, next time!

  81. I love Stinson Beach! The whole area is breathtakingly gorgeous…My husband and I recently moved to SF and have been soaking up all of the nearby places every weekend. Muir Beach, Bodega Bay, and Jenner are particularly breathtaking.. I’ve taken a few photos of our adventures and posted them here, if you’d like to see: http://meganleighmayer.tumblr.com/

  82. thanks, madeline! and SO crazy about the sharks, yikes!

  83. My mom has always said “why go on vacation somewhere, when you can just live there?” That’s why I live in S.F. :)

    • I love S.F. too!! You are very blessed!

    • That’s great advice. Good one Mum.

  84. This part of the coast looks so much like England, minus the sharks! xx

  85. I’m always feeling wanderlusty! Currently daydreaming about our trip to Breckenridge, CO in March!

  86. life in the bay area just seems SO much more calm and relaxing… sometimes it’s nice to see something other than the hustle and bustle of NYC (or jersey city here!)

  87. I’m from Stinson Beach! It makes me so happy that you blogged about us. Also, if you want the best Puerto Rican food of your life, you should go to Sol Food (http://www.solfoodrestaurant.com/) in San Rafael, which is a few towns away. It’s the best restaurant in Marin County, hands down. Enjoy!

    • Born and raised in Marin, its soooo true! Sol Food is AMAZING. Just as amazing as Stinson and Pt Reyes. I’m on the East Coast now, but visiting home in a few weeks– first two stops, In N Out and Sol Food.

    • Born and raised in Marin, its soooo true! Sol Food is AMAZING. Just as amazing as Stinson and Pt Reyes. I’m on the East Coast now, but visiting home in a few weeks– first two stops, In N Out and Sol Food.

  88. Oh, this is right by my hometown. It is rather sharky but BEAUTIFUL and great surfing :) And the drive between Stinson and the City is so hilly and view-filled…ah, it makes me homesick just to think of it!

  89. Looks like a fabulous time! :) I just might have to check it out.

  90. How timely! I have thinking about my holiday plans for this year, but have only managed to rule it down to three continents…

  91. This looks like an absolutely beautiful place to vacation! Thanks for sharing!

    • We stopped here (and Muir Beach) on our honeymoon. Fond memories!

    • The Pelican Inn…Oh that brings back memories!!! I forgot what it was called, Thanks!!

    • The Pelican Inn…Oh that brings back memories!!! I forgot what it was called, Thanks!!

    • The Pelican Inn is fantastic! You really feel like you are in a little Irish pub, and you can even take your drink out to the lawn and relax in the sunshine.

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