Sunday, August 7, 2011

Getaway Guide: Escape to Stinson Beach!

Last week was full of those foggy 60-degree San Francisco mornings where it's impossible to know whether to wear a rain coat or a sweatshirt and locals just go all out with down jackets and UGGs. Fortunately I barely noticed the morning gloom or the later afternoon sunnier skies since my face was glued to my work computer screen all week long. After a week of non-stop working I vowed to do something fun on Saturday so Nic and I checked the forecasts and decided to head north about an hour from San Francisco to beautiful Stinson beach - a cute little beach town located on California's scenic and winding Highway 1. Before this weekend we had been to Stinson once before to run/hike a 7-mile race on the steep but beautiful Matt Davis-Steep Ravine trail on Mt. Tamalpais. The race started on the beach before ascending 3.5 miles up a mountain and down so while we did get to see the area I was wheezing a little too hard to thoroughly enjoy the scenery.

This past Saturday was a very chill contrast and we went with the aim of lazing around on the beach all afternoon with a potential explore-the-little-village break. The beach is GORGEOUS and the local hiking and drive are pretty breathtaking - you should check it out!

Here are the hot getaway tips so you can plan your own day trip to Stinson!

How to Get There From San Francisco: Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and continue on Hwy. 101 North approximately three miles to the "Hwy. One, Stinson Beach" exit. Follow the signs and enjoy your drive down the scenic coastal highway. Stinson Beach is approximately 20 miles from San Francisco but the roads are quite twisty so it will end up taking about 45 mins without traffic.

Weather: Warning!!! Like San Francisco, Stinson beach can be FOGGY! Check the forecast before you go. I am totally anal so I checked this Saturday's forecast at the hourly breakdown so I could see that it would be nice and sunny by the time we got up there in the afternoon
Yet despite this forecast it was still totally foggy! We had a great time anyway and bundled up on the beach with our picnic watching all the brave kids and surfers diving into the waves.

What to Do:
Go to The Beach: Duh. The beach is why you go to Stinson - it is big, clean and has a great big parking lot with bathrooms and showers for changing. When you get into the little town on the highway 1 you will see the signs for the beach parking lot on your left. There are snack shops around to get food or bring a picnic and stay all day. Like all northern California beaches the water is freezing and of course you should check out all the warnings signs like this...

Hiking: As I mentioned, Stinson is at the base of Mt Tamalpais state park which is a hiker's paradise. I would recommend the Matt Davis trail. This awesome website gives you the details on how to get the trail head (right in town) and what the best loop is.

Where to Eat:
Stinson has a few cute cafe/lunch spots that are perfect for a little weekend trip and have indoor and outdoor seating. We brought a picnic lunch so I can't tell you any true inside scoop but here are some of the most loved spots with links to their Yelp Reviews...

Breakers Cafe
- Breakfast and Brunch
Sand Dollar Restaurant - Seafood
Surfer's Grill - Simple snack shack on the beach

So what are you waiting for? Throw some sweatshirts and towels in the car and hit the beach!


  1. I'm going home to MA in two weeks. I'm so excited to be able to hit the ocean. The beaches in IL do not compare in the slightest!


  2. Bolinas: Only 15 min past Stinson - quiet little surf town with a great beach that's super quiet. I love it there and recommend it. The townspeople apparently tear out the signs for "Bolinas this way" to keep tourists out. So it has to be good!
    Map here:

  3. Ha! We TRIED to go to Bolinas but i wasn't getting cell service to use a map and of course we couldn't see the sign! Next time for sure.