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A Family Day Out in Marin County - a mini-Tailor-Made Adventure


Family Day Out in Marin County

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Author: Barry Pickard

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A grandmother, father and son standing inside the trunk of a giant try during a family day out in Marin County

 

Marin County is a beautiful and scenic area in Northern California, just a short drive away from San Francisco. This day trip offers a perfect opportunity to escape the busy city and enjoy some time with family in nature. Things to do in Marin County include the Muir Woods National Monument, the town of Sausalito, and Spencer Battery. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about visiting these three popular family-friendly destinations, from how to get there to what you can expect when you arrive.


A view of the Golden Gate Bridge with a container ship sailing underneath and the San Francisco skyline  in background see during a family day out in Marin County
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Spencer Battery

Planning an independent trip to San Francisco and Marin County?

 

All information in this post is based on my own experience travelling through San Francisco and Marin County, backed by extensive research to bring you everything you need to know to have your own amazing experience and enjoy the exciting things to do in Marin County.


family day out in Marin County

Don’t forget that at Tailor-Made Itineraries we delight in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these attractions appeals to you, reach out to us by email. We would be more than happy to design a self-guided family day out in Marin County for you, or indeed, a general tour of San Francisco.



Family Day Out in Marin County


Where is Marin County and how to get there

 

Marin County is directly across the Golden Gate Bridge in the northwestern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. It takes approximately 45 minutes to drive from Union Square, San Francisco, to the Muir Woods National Monument and around 30 minutes to get to Sausalito. If you're coming from San Francisco, take the Golden Gate Bridge and follow the signs for US-101 N.


A pier, ferry and ferry terminal, with the San Francisco skyline in the background seen during a family day out in Marin County
Pier 41, Fisherman’s Wharf

The most popular way for visitors to arrive in Sausalito, however, is via is the ferry service from San Francisco, Pier 41, on Fisherman’s Wharf. This ferry provides a scenic way to travel to the town and offers stunning views of the Bay Area and the city of San Francisco. There is also a ferry which departs /arrives from the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. To reach the Muir Woods from Sausalito, there is a shuttle bus that goes from the Sausalito Ferry Terminal on select summer weekdays. 




Things to Do in Marin County


Muir Woods National Monument

 

The Muir Woods National Monument is a unique and breath-taking forest that is home to some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world. The park covers over 554 acres and is named after John Muir, a famous naturalist and conservationist who played a major role in preserving the redwoods of California. The main attraction of the park is the towering redwoods, which can reach heights of over 250 feet and are estimated to be over 1,000 years old.


Forrest trail with walkers out for family day out in Marin County, surrounded by huge redwood trees, making it one of the best things to do in Marin County
Muir Woods National Monument

 One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Muir Woods is by taking one of the many trails that run through the park. Some of the most popular trails include the Main Trail, the Hillside Trail, and the Bohemian Grove Trail. The Main Trail is a relatively easy hike that takes you through the heart of the forest and provides stunning views of the towering redwoods. The Hillside Trail is a bit more challenging but offers panoramic views of the forest and the surrounding area. The Bohemian Grove Trail is a secluded path that leads through a stand of redwoods that was saved from logging by a group of Bohemian Club members in the late 19th century.


Forrest trail with walkers out for family day out in Marin County, surrounded by huge redwood trees
Muir Woods National Monument

 


Aside from the redwoods, the Muir Woods is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, squirrels, and a variety of bird species. The Muir Woods are very popular and can get quite crowded, especially during the summer months. To avoid the crowds, it is best to arrive early in the morning or visit during the week. Additionally, there are a number of restrictions in place to protect the park and its inhabitants, including a ban on pets, bicycles, and picnicking.

 


Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the forest is regularly shrouded in a coastal marine layer fog, contributing to a wet environment that encourages vigorous plant growth. Before the logging industry came to California, there were an estimated 2 million acres (8,000 km2) of old growth forest containing redwoods growing in a narrow strip along the coast. By the early 20th century, most of these forests had been cut down. Just north of the San Francisco Bay, one valley named Redwood Canyon remained uncut, mainly due to its relative inaccessibility and this was to become the Muir Woods National Monument.


Forrest trail enjoyed during a family day out in Marin County, surrounded by huge redwood trees
Muir Woods National Monument

Tailor-Made Top Tips:

 

Note that there is no cell phone service in Muir Woods! 

 

If you intend parking at Muir Woods, you will need to book a reservation for your vehicle.

 


Check the Muir Woods website to find out when talks and guided tours are being conducted by the rangers and volunteers.

 


Sausalito

 

Sausalito is a charming and historic town located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. This town is famous for its stunning views of the Bay Area, its vibrant arts scene, and its lovely waterfront.


Small plaza ringed by trees and palms on a sunny, blue sky day enjoyed during a family day out in Marin County
Viña del Mar Park, Sausalito

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the town's many streets and alleys, which are lined with unique shops, restaurants, and cafes. Wander along the town’s marinas and discover their unique house boats. The town is also home to a number of museums and galleries, including the Bay Model Visitor Center and the Bay Area Discovery Museum.


Houseboat which looks like an Islamic building at the end of a jetty spotted during a family day out in Marin County
Pelican Yacht Harbour, Sausalito


Tailor-Made Top Tip:


While in Sausalito, we enjoyed lunch at a great Mexican restaurant called Copita Tequileria y Comida and we can thoroughly recommend the food and service here. The restaurant can be found across the road from the ferry terminal.



And when you are ready for dessert, make sure to enjoy a scoop or two from Lappert’s Ice Cream, just a few doors down from the restaurant. This Hawaiian chain really know make amazing ice cream.


 


Spencer Battery

 

Spencer Battery is a historic fortification located near Sausalito that was built in the late 19th century to defend the bay from enemy ships. This fortification was one of many that were built along the California coast during the Spanish-American War and is one of the best-preserved examples of this type of structure.


Concrete buildings in a gun emplacement explored during a family day out in Marin County
Spencer Battery

The fort is comprised of a series of concrete structures, including gun batteries, bunkers, and magazines, and provides a fascinating glimpse into the military history of the area.


Concrete buildings in a gun emplacement, with the top of a tower of the Golden Gate Bridge,  explored during a family day out in Marin County
Spencer Battery

The highlight of a visit to Spencer Battery is the stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Area.


The Golden Gate Bridge with the San Francisco skyline in the background enjoyed during a family day out in Marin County
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Spencer Battery

 


Tailor-Made Top Tips:

 

The Spencer Battery has the best sunrise view of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay (so long as it is not foggy!).


Small harbour in the foreground with a small island and the sun rise in the background enjoyed during a family day out in Marin County
Sunrise from Spencer Battery

There is a small carpark on Conzelman’s Road where the path to the battery begins, but this can fill up very quickly. There is a larger carpark just off the main 101 Highway, where you can park, then walk up the hillside to the battery.

 

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Other Family Attractions


As mentioned previously, the Bay Model Visitor Center is in Sausalito and you can tour this 1.5-acre model of San Francisco Bay, seeing the rise and fall of its tides. There is also the Bay Area Discovery Museum, which inspires children’s creativity via interactive exhibits.


To the west of Battery Spencer, along the southern coastline of Marin County, are a number of other lookout points and military batteries to explore, eventually leading to the scenic Point Bonita Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse, which is accessed via a half-mile trail, is open to visitors in the afternoon from Friday to Monday.



A little to the north of the lighthouse, near Rodeo Beach, is the Marine Mammal Center, which gives an excellent chance for the family to learn about the rescued animals in their care. Then, if you are looking for a relaxing day at Marin County beaches, there are several along this stretch of coast to choose from, such as Muir, Stinson and Bolinas beaches. Marin County beaches are certainly some of the most scenic and pleasant beaches in California.




Hotels in Marin County California


Most visitors to Marin County will tend to do so on day trips from San Francisco, basing themselves there in the city, however, there are some great opportunities to stay within Marin County itself. If you are looking to stay in or around Sausalito, then a couple of the best hotels in Marin County are the Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa, and the Holiday Inn Express Mill Valley. Or perhaps you could consider staying in the nearby town of Tiburon, at The Lodge at Tiburon. However, if you fancy something more outdoorsy, take a look at the Mountain Home Inn. Or maybe a beach location is more your style, in which case how about Smiley's Saloon and Hotel?

Click on the underlined weblinks above to review these hotels and make your reservation.



Conclusion


Marin County is a beautiful and diverse area that offers something for everyone. From the towering redwoods of the Muir Woods National Monument to the charming waterside town of Sausalito and the historic Spencer Battery, this day trip is the perfect way to spend a day with family and experience the best of Northern California. With its stunning scenery and rich history, Marin County is a must-visit for anyone travelling to San Francisco. Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or just a change of pace, this area is sure to leave a lasting impression.



Related Blog Posts

If you are interested in finding out more about San Francisco and the Bay Area, please view the Tailor-Made Itineraries posts below:


Comment below and let us know what your favourite thing was to do or see in Marin County.



Don’t forget that at Tailor-Made Itineraries we delight in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these attractions appeals to you, reach out to us by email. We would be more than happy to design a self-guided family day out in Marin County for you, or indeed, a general tour of San Francisco.



Join us next time on our family adventures when we continue our family days out, this time in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We post every two weeks, and you can subscribe to our latest blog and newsletter here. Until then, happy reading and safe travels.

 

Barry

 

 

Tailor-Made Itineraries creates one-of-a-kind bespoke self-guided travel itineraries for adventurous and curious travellers.


These self-guided tours deliver a personalised and exciting holiday experience that takes the effort out of trip planning.


Map of Marin County


family day out in Marin County

family day out in Marin County

a family day out in Marin County


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