Nature at Your Fingertips

Ronnie's Awesome List presents a guest article by Gina Risso, family photographer working in the Bay Area. Mention Ronnie’s Awesome List and get 10% off your session fee. 

From open space, to thick woods, to gorgeous vistas, seems like around every corner you can tap into nature in Marin. In fact, there is far more undeveloped open space, than developed here. With so many areas to choose from, deciding on a location can be overwhelming. Not every beautiful place is actually a great spot for family portraits.

The first thing to consider is how easy the location is to access. If it requires a long drive or wearing hiking boots just to get there, then it doesn’t make the list. My three favorite locations listed here, are a short drive from the 101, and short walk from where you park.

I prefer each location to have all three of these elements, when choosing the best nature spots for family portraits: woods, open space and views. With this type of variety in one location, there’s a better chance that you can shoot there most any time of the day, which is perfect for the napping crowd.  Below are my top 3 locations for a family portraits in nature in Marin County.

Rodeo Hill-Sausalito

I could not find a name for this location, so I’m calling this spot, Rodeo Hill, because its above Rodeo Avenue. This is a great spot for views of Mt Tamalpais, Sausalito, and Angel Island. There is an open grassy field, a woodsy trail, and a few towering Eucalyptus trees. Check it out in late March/early April when its covered in wild flowers. Safe for all ages. The address is 107 Rodeo Avenue-where Nevada Street and Rodeo Avenue meet. You can park in the dirt lot at the intersection and then, cross the street and follow the road beyond the gate up the hill. Its about a 3 minute walk. Jog stroller friendly. Leave your high heels at home. 

Hippy Tree/Top of Gilmartin Drive - Tiburon

This location has it all. Great views, woods, open space, large rocks to climb, and most of the time, a big swing. You can shoot here at anytime of day, but its best at or near sunset. The Hippy Tree is a local favorite spot for all ages, including teenagers late at night.  Especially under the tree. Aside from the broken glass on the ground near the tree, this location is ideal for family portraits. Park at 100 Gilmartin Drive in Tiburon and follow the fire road on foot for 5 minutes to the large Eucalyptus Tree you can see to the west from the road. This path is jog stroller friendly and the location is safe for all ages. 

Bonus: If you’re looking for even easier access to open space and views of Mt. Tam, continue up right up the street from where you parked to go to the Hippy Tree, to about 110 Gilmartin Drive. Here you will find a large open field of grass and gorgeous views of Mt Tam, the Richmond Bridge and the Bay. There is not a lot of shade here, so a foggy day or one hour before sunset is the best time to shoot here. 

End of Ridgewood-Ridgewood Drive-San Rafael

This large Eucalyptus Grove along the ridge above Terra Linda, is one of the best places in Marin for a family photo shoot. There are views of the bay and Mt Tamalpais, lots of lush greenery, tall trees, dirt paths, fallen trees to climb on and the best of all, you can literally drive right up to it. I just love how the light filters through the trees close to sunset. Its so magical! Mornings work well here too. Safe for all ages. Follow H Street in San Rafael, to Forbes, turn left on Forbes, right on Elizabeth and then left on Ridgewood. Follow to the end. Stroller and high heal friendly. 

Ready to schedule your holiday photo session? Gina Risso is one of the most sought after professional family photographers in the San Francisco Bay Area. With holidays fast approaching you’ll want to book soon to capture some amazing year-end portraits you’ll enjoy for years to come. Learn more about Gina at, on Facebook and Instagram.