Places to Go When Visiting the North Bay Area

Updated on May 13, 2018
jennyeswartz profile image

Jennifer loves learning new things and reads like her survival depends on it. She encourages others to read and write often.

Mill Valley
Mill Valley | Source

You know those certain places in the world where you can't seem to escape or that leave a special mark in your memory? Certain qualities in every place attract a certain person. For me, one of these places is the Bay Area in Northern California. I grew up in the North Bay, 20 minutes north of San Francisco and although college (as well as traveling) brought me elsewhere, I continue to return to this versatile landscape that truly has something to offer for everyone. Although I am usually attracted to the beach, the Bay Area offers that accommodation as well. For those who are not personally aware of the Bay Area, here are a list of places that may be less well-known, capture the attitude of the area, and would be better not to forego.

Scenic Landscapes Both in and Beyond the City

I have come to discover that a majority of people who are not from California can only list the big cities. When I mention I am from California, it either means I'm from Los Angeles or San Francisco. Of course, both cities are unique and great places to visit. Yet, it is important to know if you plan to visit Northern California: San Francisco is not the only place on the map. Yes, San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind city that has earned its numerous nicknames for a reason (however, don't call it "San Fran") so don't hold yourself back, but don't overlook what resides beyond.

Don't Call it "San Fran"!

Many tourists make this mistake, and it is perfectly okay. However, you may want to reserve the nicknames "San Fran" or "Frisco" for personal use (or for never) because most of the time you will get shunned. "San Francisco" or what we call it: "The City" is the preferred usage.

Wine and Cheese in Wine Country, aka Napa

With its Mediterranean climate and hilly topography, Napa is home to a myriad of vineyards. Day in and day out, vineyards throughout Napa host wine tastings and winery tours to the public throughout the seasons. The drive itself is spell-bounding and some locals admit Fall is the best time to visit when the leaves turn different colors. Only a 45-minute drive from San Francisco, Napa Valley is an excellent place to unwind and relax with some wine and cheese pairings while observing palatial views.

Here is a list of the 10 best wineries to visit.

Source

Walk to the Lighthouse in Point Reyes

If lighthouses, farms, beaches, and hiking are your thing, you can fit it all in one adventure to Point Reyes. One enjoyable aspect of Point Reyes is that many of the farms and factories, as well as park guides offer insightful tours. There are many different tours to choose from and it can all fit into a few hours of your time. Depending on what you like, Point Reyes offers guided tours for cheese factories, nature and wildlife, wineries and more. If you like extreme, don't miss out on visiting the historical lighthouse. In order to reach the lighthouse, you are required to walk along a narrow path along the edge of a cliff and down a very long and narrow staircase (and back up on the return trip). Plus, it is often very windy. Brace yourselves!

Take a Stroll and/or Dine Along the Sausalito Boardwalk

Although Sausalito is a tourist destination, it is also a convenient pit-stop between Napa and San Francisco (and visa versa). The boardwalk offers a pleasant view of the city during the Spring and Summer months when the sky is clear and fog-less. You can either walk along the boardwalk, sit along the pier with an ice cream cone from Lappert's, or choose to dine at one of the many restaurants on Bridgeway, the main thoroughfare. The Bay Model is worth a visit, and you can always find more to do at the Sausalito Visitor Center. On any given day, you will find artists painting on easels along the sidewalk. Occasionally, you will find some Bill Dan balancing rocks.

Sausalito is a great spot to hit if you are on your way to or from the city, and I recommend going early or late at night, when there is less traffic. Traffic usually starts getting heavy on the 101 around 3-5PM when people are commuting home from work.

View from a friends' balcony of one side Sausalito
View from a friends' balcony of one side Sausalito | Source

Stinson Beach and Bolinas: Get Beachy

Don't forget towels and sunscreen! Though it is notoriously known for its numerous shark sightings, Stinson Beach is probably the best you're going to get in terms of NorCal beaches. The weather is always something to keep in mind. Muir beach is also close by if distance is an issue. However, Stinson Beach is worth the drive. Be aware that it's a winding road to get there, which may require you and fellow travelers to stop and rest for a bit -- an excellent reason to include the following destinations to your trip (hint: they are on the way to the beach).

Stinson Beach
Stinson Beach | Source

En Route to Stinson Beach: Get your Ranch on

Slide Ranch is a very fun, historical, and lesser known community farm that aims to bring children closer to nature. I am providing this top secret intel thanks to the multiple field trips to Slide Ranch I participated in while growing up in Marin County. Not only is Slide Ranch a fun activity for kids to enjoy, but adults as well. With lots of animals to observe and fun gardens to walk through, Slide Ranch accomplishes its task to bring people closer to nature through its conservancy efforts and hands-on work by the peaceful staff who live on site. Definitely a calming break from the winding roads of Shoreline Highway.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Slide Ranch Chicks at Slide RanchFeeding goats at Slide RanchStaff at Slide Ranch
Slide Ranch
Slide Ranch | Source
Chicks at Slide Ranch
Chicks at Slide Ranch | Source
Feeding goats at Slide Ranch
Feeding goats at Slide Ranch | Source
Staff at Slide Ranch
Staff at Slide Ranch | Source

Last, but Definitely not Least: Muir Woods

Redwood trees. And lots of them. If you're like me and love forests, Muir Woods is a place not to miss. These abundant, massive trees aren't going to come to you, so you have to see them in person. Due to its location by the Pacific Ocean, the trees are most often doused in fog, so their growth is ever-present. Muir Woods has an awesome history of dendrology and is home to some of the only standing Redwoods in the world. The grandeur of the forest, named after the nature conservationist, John Muir, may send shivers down your spine. Simply driving past reminds us of the raw beauty and powerful force of nature. Take a break from the driving and stretch your legs on a hike through these woods.

So, why ain't it Cheap?

It may seem obvious. The location, right? Yes, location is always a factor. Of course, looking for housing in big cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles is very difficult to find because of the affordability in these types of cities. A major factor driving up costs, in the Bay Area in particular, is the limited land available for development. Due to regulation efforts, two thirds of Mill Valley are reserved for conservation efforts (estuaries, coastal wetlands) to preserve the natural ecosystem. There is a huge demand for housing because people want to live in this wonderful place full of beauty and excitement, some of which I have already told you about. And that, my friends, is why it ain't cheap!

Don't let the price deter you from visiting. There is a lot to learn and see in the Bay Area. Although living in the Bay Area may put a dent in your wallet, it is worth the experience.

A
Napa Valley:
1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA 94559, USA

get directions

B
Point Reyes:
Point Reyes National Seashore, 1 Point Reyes-Petaluma Rd, Inverness, CA 94937, USA

get directions

C
Sausalito :
Sausalito, CA 94965, USA

get directions

D
Slide Ranch:
Slide Ranch, 2025 Shoreline Hwy, Muir Beach, CA 94965, USA

get directions

E
Muir Woods:
Muir Woods National Monument, 1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA

get directions

F
Stinson Beach:
Stinson Beach, CA 94970, USA

get directions

© 2018 Jennifer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)