Foodie Adventures on the Bay Area Coast


Coastal Flavor

Summertime on the coast isn’t just about soaking in the abundantly beautiful’s also about our Golden State’s other bounty: fresh food! Here are three outdoor adventures that combine both. Hike, bike, and a bite!

Marin Headlands Hike Muir Beach

British Influence

The Marin Headlands never disappoint. "So close yet so far" is an apt phrase for the raw and rugged beauty of this open space set just miles from the buzz of San Francisco. Sample some of the finer highlights of the Headlands on a 7.5-mile (round-trip) hike combining coastal views, secluded beaches, and a delightful English pub. Get a morning start at Tennessee Valley parking area (this lot fills quickly on weekends) and make your way towards Tennessee Cove on a 1-mile flat trail. Plenty of hikers, bikers, and baby-walkers easily jaunt to the cove, but your destination is further on—where things get hilly. Veer north onto the Coastal Trail, following the sign to Muir Beach. The path rises a few hundred feet, offering better views of the rocky coast. At the next intersection, continue on the Coastal Trail as it winds its way back down to nearly sea level (look for a shoot-off trail to Pirate's Cove to bask in one of the Bay Area’s most secluded beaches). From here it’s only another 1.5 miles to Muir Beach and the welcoming Pelican Inn. If it’s sunny, grab a spot on the lawn and drink in the English ambience (along with a pint of "arf and arf"—half Guiness and half ale). Ready for food? Refuel with fish and chips or bangers and mash. Return the way you came, or take a different route by combining the Green Gulch, Middle Green Gulch, Coyote, and Fox Trails (map).  It’s a headlands homerun!

To reach the Tennessee Valley trailhead from Hwy. 101 in Marin, exit Mill Valley/Stinson Beach/Hwy. 1. Follow Shoreline Hwy. until you see the Tennessee Valley Rd. sign and turn turn left. Follow it all the way to the end. No dogs.


Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail bike ride

Fresh Catch

Fancy yourself quite the catch? Prove it on a trip to Half Moon Bay, where plenty of fish in the sea works to your advantage! Start things off by romancing the coast on a car-free bike ride along the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail (as part of Half Moon Bay State Beach, this is a walkable route). Wheel the love as you roll along this oceanfront gem. Start from Pillar Point Harbor on Miranda Road off of Highway 1 and pedal south along the paved trail, across old wooden bridges all the way to Poplar Avenue (5 miles one-way). En route you'll find lots of bluff-side benches for wave watching. Afterward, head back to the harbor to grab dinner: by grab we mean picking up fresh-caught fish sold "off-the-boat" every day. Prices are retail (a whole salmon is roughly $8 to $10 per pound), and here’s a tip to avoid feeling like a fish out of water while deciding what to get: call the "fishfone" (number below). A recorded message will update you on all the daily catches. Crab season begins in September, for those who like to get clawfully crazy in the kitchen. Was that a pinch you just felt?!

Fresh-caught fish is sold retail "off-the-boat" directly to the public at Pillar Point Harbor, seven days a week. Call the Fishfone to hear what's selling: (650) 726-8724, then 3. The Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail is dog-friendly! 

Mar Vista Cottages Mendocino

Cottage Cuisine

"Live simply and eat fresh." That's the motto at Mar Vista Cottages, a gourmet hideaway located on the ruggedly beautiful Mendocino coast. The rustic cottages and spectacular location are allure enough, but here's the bonus: Guests at Mar Vista get full access to the site's sprawling organic garden, filled with a potpourri of in-season produce and herbs: spinach, kale, tender green beans, strawberries, oregano, and thyme, to name a few; Mar Vista provides a list of what’s ready for picking, and venerable pros, Farmer Tom and the full-time gardener, Ginger, are available to answer questions and provide some tips. Cottages come with kitchens and a harvest basket waiting to be filled with the fare you want to cook up. Fancy a scrumptious veggie omelet? The on-site hens ensure that fresh (and multicolored!) eggs are in full supply; you can even join Farmer Tom in the daily egg collection. Need a little culinary inspiration? The owners have a recipe book for you to flip through (a favorite is baked mussels, harvested off the rocks on the beach just across the street). Between meals, you can hike along the coast, surf, or just sunbathe. After your gourmet experience, end your day with a sweet soak in the Japanese tub, which uses water from the creek that flows through the property. Go ahead, veg out.

Mar Vista Cottages, 35101 South Highway 1, Gualala; 707-884-3522. Cottages start at $175 per night, and there is a two night minimum. Note: Mar Vista Cottages is very dog friendly!

Yosemite Minus the Car

Late summer is one of the best times to be outdoors in Yosemite: hikes to year-round waterfalls, valley bike rides, lounging around lakes, and journeys to huge views of Half Dome are just a few highlights. Ready to go? Don’t bother filling the gas tank. Go to Yosemite, without the car! Amtrak’s got your ticket. The San Joaquin® from the San Francisco Bay Area to Yosemite lets you zip right by the traffic and get started on your outdoor adventures faster—and more relaxed! Sink back in your comfy seat and enjoy the scenery (not to mention going green to one of our nation’s most beautiful National Parks): this route is one of the most scenic in Northern California. It also eliminates the hassle of trying to find parking in the park. Instead, roll smoothly from the Bay Area in air-conditioned comfort that breezes past the car lines, freeing up your time to do what you came here to do: explore outdoors. Car free. Care free. Amtrak to Yosemite!

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