Wandering into the little town of Bolinas, on the Western edge of Marin County, feels like being initiated into a secret society. As the story goes, the locals regularly steal any and all road signs that direct people to the town, happy to avoid the crush of tourists. In reality, the residents are friendly, the art scene is bustling and the pace of life is wonderfully slow. Writer Richard Brautigan, musician Grace Slick, and actor Frances McDormand have called this place home, and for good reason. Here are a few things to see and ways to enjoy this eclectic little town.
1. Coast Cafe
Coast Cafe is a charming little restaurant that has a bistro menu with a diner-like warmth and attitude. They serve freshly caught seafood and locally grown food that will give you a classic taste of Bolinas. lunch and dinner are served during the week with brunch on weekends only.
Location: 46 Wharf Road, Bolinas
2. Bolinas Beach
One of the biggest draws for Bolinas is its incredible waterfront, with views south toward San Francisco. The beach has a reputation for being a great spot for beginners and intermediate surfers. Even if the waves are small, the panoramic views are well worth the trip. The fairly narrow beach is also great for sunbathing if you find yourself there on a sunny day.
Location: Bolinas Beach
3. Alamere Falls
If you’re looking for a nice day hike in the area, Alamare Falls is hard to beat. It’s a beautiful hike, and one of the rare opportunities in California to see a waterfall flow onto a beach. The trail winds you through a dense forest and past Bass Lake, a popular but unofficial swimming spot. Feel free to bring a swimsuit, but watch out for poison oak. The trail ends at Wildcat Beach where you’ll find the 40ft falls cascading onto the sandy shore. The hike is 14 miles roundtrip, so check the weather, bring your favorite hiking boots and pack plenty of food and water.
Location: Palomarin Trailhead, along Point Reyes National Seashore
4. Bolinas Museum
The Bolinas Museum was founded in 1983 and reflects the regional history and interest of Bolinas and Coastal Marin. They host work by both local and nationally acclaimed artists. The museum serves as both an art and local history museum featuring paintings, photography, and objects that celebrate this eclectic community and region. Admission is free.
Location: 48 Wharf Road, Bolinas
Eleven is a natural wine bar and restaurant with a farm-to-table focus and a deep love of community. Owned by two sisters, this little treasure features an ever-evolving menu such as a muffuletta sandwich and an artichoke and spinach pizza. It’s seasonal, it’s playful and it’s always delicious.
Location: 11 Wharf Road, Bolinas
6. Smiley’s Schooner Saloon
This historic inn and saloon is rumored to have been built in 1851, no one is certain, and claims to be the oldest continually operating saloon on the West Coast. It is the town’s main watering hole and a great place for live music. Their kitchen serves incredible Mexican-inspired cuisine like carnitas tacos, pozole verde, and fresh churros. It’s a great place for a cold drink and an opportunity to soak in a little Bolinas history.
Location: 41 Wharf Road, Bolinas
Featured image: Ronan Furuta on Unsplash