Bay Are Fire Pits and Places


Warming Trend

Cooler weather and the festive season mean it’s time to kindle some warm memories. The North Bay’s got just what you need to heat things up. Here are three great places to gather around the hearth with family and friends.

Nicks Cove Boat Shack

Cheer Shack

An hour from San Francisco, Point Reyes makes spirits bright by merely existing, and tucked northwest of Marshall is an unassuming little warming haven that could get even Scrooge into the holiday groove. Behold the humble boat shack at the foot of glistening Tomales Bay. It’s free, open to the public, and the stoke-it-yourself wood-burning fire stove keeps things toasty during winter’s chill. To reach the boat shack, simply stroll the long pier. Inside, the all-wood interior is decorated in white string lights, windows look out to Hog Island, and the upright Burmeister piano calls for an impromptu caroling session. Spark some flames and gather around. Tote along your own food and drinks—there are a few tables for do-it-yourself dining. Or dial 112 from the shack’s telephone to order tasty cuisine from Nick’s Cove Restaurant, which sits at the pier’s entrance. The restaurant isn’t authorized to serve out there, but it’s perfectly okay to do take-out. Baby, it’s warm inside!

The Boat Shack and Nick's Cove Restaurant are located at 23240 Hwy. 1, Marshall; (415) 663-1033. Dinner starts at 4:00 p.m. at the restaurant. The boat shack is free and open to the public. Dog-friendly!

Velo Vino Napa Firepit

Hot in Napa

Want a wine tasting experience that’s fine-tuned for kicking back on a light-strung patio with salvaged wood furniture and a fire pit backed by a curved stone bench? There’s a hot spot for that, and it’s (gloriously) devoid of limos and bachelorettes. Brought to you by the folks behind Berkeley-based Clif Bar, Velo Vino in St. Helena combines brilliant wines, a bicycle base camp for local explorations, and a laid-back outdoor setting to sip favorites like Kit’s Killer Cab and Gary’s Improv Zinfandel (we like The Climber Pouch wine-in-a-bag, the perfect ski hut companion). Snack on organic mountain mixes, and if the weather sours, shift gears and take refuge: The tasting room takes its inspiration from Europe’s famed refugios—cozy huts enlivened by conversation and real-deal décor. Velo Vino is decked with photographs of Grand Tours. Now that’s haute.

TIP: Bring your road bike for a pre-fire-pit spin. Velo Vino’s friendly staff has the beta on routes for all skill levels.

Velo Vino is located at 709 Main St., St. Helena; (707) 968-0625. Open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day. Holiday hours: Monday-Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Friday-Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The patio at Velo Vino is dog-friendly! 

Muir Beach Bonfire

Beach Blaze

Collect some wood, grab a few blankets and buddies, and get to secluded, bonfire-friendly Muir Beach. Redwood Creek spills into the Pacific here and rugged bluffs to the north and south protect the beach from any serious buffeting. Wide-open sands stretching past gentle breakers provide a dramatic seaside locale. Arrive early—at least a couple of hours before sunset—to snag one of the designated bonfire pits, and then take your time roasting marshmallows and howlin' at the moon (if it howls back, that's the coyotes singing along). The beach closes about an hour past sunset (see details below), so you’ll have to put out your fire by then. Not to worry, though. You can keep the theme glowing by scooting a minute down the road to the Pelican Inn. Warm up with a pint by the fire in the classic Tudor-style pub. Muirfect.

Directions: From Hwy. 101, take the Hwy. 1 exit and head north. Continue up the highway for 6 miles, and look for a sign marking the left turn to Muir Beach. Three fire rings are available on the beach near the south end of the parking lot. Fires must be cleared and groups must vacate the beach by the end of the day-use hours (one hour after sunset). Call (415) 388-2595 for more information. The Pelican Inn is located at 10 Pacific Way, Muir Beach; (415) 383-6000. Muir Beach is dog-friendly!

Monterey Moveable Feast

Long before "farm-to-table" was popular, there was Monterey County—leading the way for culinary experiences that are a food and wine lover's fantasy. From fisheries to vineyards, this renowned coastal destination has everything you need for your next epicurean adventure. Including an easy plan! Check out this Wine & Dine Itinerary, telling you everything from where to enjoy sustainable seafood caught straight from Monterey Harbor, to feasting on organic produce while touring a farm, to sampling the region’s award-winning wines. Like Top 10 lists for food and travel? Then you'll love the Top 10 Foodie Frolics in Monterey County where you can discover award-winning favorites like Passionfish and Marinus. Those looking for the ultimate destination dining experience should check in at Hotel L’Auberge Carmel just four blocks from beautiful Carmel Beach. It's a landmark for culinary excellence with its intimate restaurant, Aubergine, featuring a 4,500-bottle wine cellar and exclusive tasting menus created by Chef Justin Cogley himself. Aubergine was recently was rated #5 in Zagat’s list of the top five restaurants for dining in the San Francisco Bay Area. Make your way to Monterey for a moveable feast to remember!

Visit to plan your epicurean adventure.

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