In 1579, as the English explorer Sir Francis Drake sailed around the Americas, he dropped anchor along a dramatic peninsula in what would one day become the state of California. Shrouded in fog and marked by rugged cliffs, this gorgeous landscape was the ancient home of the Coast Miwok people - and a place that would become known as one of Northern California's most beloved natural wonderlands.
Welcome to Marin County, a majestic collection of ocean beaches, coastal meadows, mountain peaks, and affluent communities just a few minutes north of San Francisco. It's a place to experience the boundless beauty of nature, and return home each evening to one of our stunning Marin County vacation rentals.
Where is Marin County?
Marin County occupies the peninsula immediately north of San Francisco, with borders that stretch from the Golden Gate Bridge to just beyond Tomales Bay. The county is surrounded on three sides by water, with the Golden Gate Strait to the south, San Francisco and San Pablo Bays to the east, and the great Pacific Ocean to the west. The heart of Marin is Mt. Tamalpais (or Mt. Tam), the 2,571-foot summit - and birthplace of mountain biking - that punctuates the local landscape.
Things to Do in Marin County
Between the wild ocean beaches, acres of verdant farmland, and 34 open space preserves with 249 miles of roads and trails, life in Marin is all about enjoying the bounty of the great outdoors.
For spectacular views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate, and the surrounding hills, begin your visit with a scenic stop in the Marin Headlands. Take a drive through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, stroll the bayfront in Sausalito, or hop on the Golden Gate Ferry for a sunset ride into San Francisco.
The charming town of Mill Valley, at the foot of Mt. Tam, is perfectly located for exploring Mt. Tamalpais State Park. If you're traveling on foot, follow the seven-mile Dipsea Trail to Stinson Beach by way of Muir Woods, the redwood forest named after the noble John Muir. By car, follow the locals along the Panoramic Highway, stopping to admire the view from Bolinas Ridge on the way.
Spend a Sunday morning with nearly 200 local farmers and artisans at the Agricultural Institute of Marin Farmers Market in San Rafael, and purchase fresh ingredients to cook with in the kitchen of your vacation rental!
For all that, there are few landscapes as special as those of West Marin - a picturesque region of dairy and oyster farms, and windblown, ocean beaches. Pick up a few snacks from the Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, shuck your lunch at Hog Island Oyster Company in Marshall, or stop for a sandwich at Perry's Inverness Park Grocery on the shores of Tomales Bay.
Just leave sufficient time to explore Point Reyes National Seashore - a breathtaking peninsula that sits just across the San Andreas Fault. Keep watch for gray whales at the Point Reyes Lighthouse, observe the local elephant seals beneath the cliffs at Chimney Rock, or take an unforgettable walk along the shores of Drakes Beach.
Day Trips from Marin County
Uniquely situated between the urban and rural attractions of Northern California, Marin County is just a day trip away from vineyards, beaches, and thriving cities.
The Golden Gate Ferry from Larkspur or Sausalito is the most scenic route to San Francisco, where you can take part in an afternoon Giants game, ride a cable car on the steep streets of Nob Hill, or enjoy a picnic in the sun at Crissy Field. In search of more pastoral scenes? Head north on Highway 1 to Bodega Bay, Jenner, and Sea Ranch, where you can escape the crowds and marvel at the rocky cliffs.
You can also plan a memorable day of food- and wine-tasting in Sonoma and Napa Counties, Marin's neighbors to the north, which are widely known and loved for their charm and sun-filled beauty.
Enjoy a glimpse of everyday life in this gorgeous region of Northern California, and let our Marin County vacation rentals be your next home away from home!
Photo Credit: Frank Schulenburg via Flickr