25 Hidden Gems in Marin to Explore (and where to find them)

 Photo by  Hannah Yurke

Photo by Hannah Yurke

To me, Marin is the greatest place on earth. The possibilities for things to do are seemingly endless! It's been my home since 1991 which has given me a chance to really get to know the area intimately and explore off-the-beaten path hidden gems pre and post family! Here are just some of my favorites.

NATURE THERAPY

  1. Explore the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary, a 911-acre open water sanctuary in Tiburon providing a spectacular outdoor classroom that includes both land and water habitats.
  2. Discover the secret patch of wild daffodils near Limantour Beach that only bloom for a couple of weeks at the end of February and sometimes into early March. 
  3. Walk the Corte Madera Ecological Reserve, a 620 acre spot popular with birdwatchers and one of the best places in the world where visitors can view a tidal marsh without damaging the land or disturbing the wildlife. 
  4. Marin reservoirs are the kind of place you might stop at briefly then keep going. It’s worth taking time to stop, enjoy and explore. 
  5. When the tides get low at Muir Beach new worlds emerge. Discover the colorful tide pool treasures bursting with dozens of sea stars, sea anemones and more.

MEET THE ANIMALS

  1. Learn about Whales and Elephant Seals with the Ranger-Led Programs at Point Reyes.
  2. Hike with the horses on Horse Hill in Mill Valley.
  3. Discover connections we all share with marine mammals and the ocean at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
  4. View tule elk at Pierce Ranch in Tomales Point.
  5. Experience wild locals up close at WildCare in San Rafael.

FINDING MY OM

  1. Stroll through the organic gardens at Green Gulch Farms and stand in the giant bell in the Zen Center.
  2. Walk the labyrinth at the Theological Seminary in San Anselmo or Community Congregational Church in Tiburon.
  3. Sit on the “Dock of the Bay” where Otis Redding stayed on a houseboat in Waldo Point Harbor, Sausalito. 
  4. Swing on the Hippy Tree (aka Tick Rock) at 100 Gilmartin Dr, Tiburon.
  5. Hike to Hawk Hill and get a glorious view of the Bay. 

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME

  1. Ring Mountain Preserve is home to ancient sites such as the "Indian kitchen" used by the Coast Miwok to grind food and a rock with petroglyphs. 
  2. Take an organized moonlight hike the Bonita Lighthouse and cross the suspension bridge over the perilous cliffs in Sausalito.
  3. Walk the half-mile “Earthquake Trail” from the Bear Valley Visitor Center to the famous Earthquake Fence in Point Reyes National Seashore.
  4. Tucked away on the side of Mount Tamalpais is a haunting reminder of a U.S. Navy plane crash in 1944, a disaster that claimed eight lives. 
  5. Marincello was a proposed city that would have covered the Headlands. Builders got as far as constructing an exit which ends abruptly at a gate at Rodeo Drive in Sausalito.

ONLY IN MARIN

  1. Alcatraz is the best know Bay Area prison but you can buy convict-made art from the San Quentin Prison Gift Shop located just outside the gates. Cash only.
  2. Bay Model in Sausalito was built by the Army Corps of Engineers at the end of the 1950s, is a hydraulic scale model of the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta System and a fun way to see tides change about every 15 minutes.
  3. Battery Spencer at Fort Baker was used as a strategic guarding post that was outfitted with three M1888 12-inch guns during the two World Wars.
  4. A hidden Bavarian lodge of the Nature Friends International is an epicenter of outdoor excursions and cultural events that make the most of the area. Meet plenty of international visitors as a member—this place is also a hostel—and come hungry. When summertime festivals occur, the food is plentiful and the beer is cold. If you don’t want to join the club, you can still come to the festivals. Bring money for admission, and don your best lederhosen.
  5. The Marin Museum of the American Indian is a little institution with a big mission. Located in a tiny two-story building in a corner of Novato's Miwok Park, the museum aims for nothing less than to educate visitors about the history and culture of all of North America's native tribes.

What are your favorite hidden gems?