Work takes me to San Francisco on a frequent basis and I have kinda started loving this beautiful city. Apart from it being know as the “Silicon Valley” of the world, the city has so many beautiful and serene places to visit.
In my recent trip, I got a weekend for myself to explore the places around San Francisco. The initial plan was to go to Napa Valley and places around it, but then we finalized on a day trip in and around the San Francisco bay area. I was staying in Palo Alto and following was the plan:
Itinerary for the day:
- Start from Palo Alto at around 9:00 AM and drive all the way to the our first stop at “Golden Gate Bridge View”
- After the customer photos sessions of the Golden Gate, start driving North towards Muir Beach
- Spend an hour at this beach and then continue the ascend towards the Muir Beach overlook.
- From Muir beach, continue driving North towards the white sand Stinson Beach.
- Spend a good hour or so at Stinson beach and then continue driving on the Shoreline highway and head towards Mount Tamalpais
- The last stop was to hike to Mount Tamalpais East peak, which provides unmatched view of the Bay area
Details of the outing:
It was a bright Sunday morning and the weather was just perfect for a day outing. My Colleague and his family had planned the trip out and we managed to start the day with the kiddo’s at around 10AM. The drive from Palo Alto to San Francisco through the Interstate 280 was very scenic. Traffic on 280 was not as heavy as 101 and we managed to to reach our first stop “Golden Gate Bridge View” in around an hour.
Golden Gate Bridge View:
The Panoramic view of the Bay area from the “Golden Gate Bridge” Viewpoint
After spending around an hour at this place, we started our drive towards Muir beach. The drive from Golden Gate bridge to Muir takes roughly around 30 minutes. The beach is located 3 miles west of Muir Woods along the coastline. The beach is a quiet cove, lagoon and beach, which is a favorite of the locals.
After spending an hour at the beach, he proceeded to our next destination “Muir Beach Overlook”. The overlook is around mile from the beach and should hardly take around 5 minutes.
Muir Beach Overlook
This overlook was one of the many base stations from where the soldiers used to keep a watch on the coastline for ships. During the aftermath of Pearl Harbor these spots became increasingly important for watching for future attacks near San Francisco. As technology improved, these observatory stations became obsolete.
After being mesmerized by the views from Muir Overlook, we started our journey north on the Shoreline highway towards Stinson beach.
Stinson beach is a white sand beach and is an ideal place for hiking, picnicking, fishing and surfing. You will find many families coming over to this place to escape the frantic pace of city life. The road to Stinson beach from Muir overlook is very scenic. The steep and winding road runs in parallel to the shoreline and provides some amazing view of the bay.
We spend a good couple of hours chilling out at this wonderful beach. The sun was beating down and provided the much needed warmth against the cool breeze and cold water. At around 5:00 PM, we decided to move to our next destination which was Mount Tamalpais
Mount Tamalpais is the highest peak in the Marin Hills, which are part of the Northern California Coast Ranges. The East and West peaks are perfect for hikes and provide some amazing view of the valley and city below.
If you want to get better view of the valley and the city, continue driving towards the East peak. The views from the East peak (one where you need to hike to the summit) is breath taking. The hike is not very tiring and can be done at leisure.
Mount Tamalpais (East Peak)
Our last stop for the day for the hike to East peak which provided some of the best views of the bay area. One can see the entire coastline, downtown San Francisco and all the way up to the hills near Napa valley. It is indeed one of the most serene places to visit in and around the Bay area.
As I stood over the cliff staring at the clouds rolling over the hills, could not help but feel a sense of calmness seeping in. The cool breeze and the fresh air does add to the theatrics. It was one heck of a day and I must thank my friend’s family for being a perfect host and planning this wonderful day.
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