Stinson Beach

Let Stinson Beach Show You a California-Style Good Time

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Stinson Beach California-Style

Although it is not always as sunny and warm as its southern counterparts, Stinson Beach is one of those classic feel-good California beaches everyone falls in love with.

What to expect from your Stinson Beach visit

With lifeguards on duty from May through October, Stinson Beach is a surfer’s and swimmer’s dream, although the water can be quite c-c-c-c-cold, and shark sightings are not unheard of.

That’s okay, though, because you don’t have to brave the surf to enjoy Stinson Beach. The 3½ miles of powdery sand provide plenty of opportunities for castle building, kite flying, sunbathing, volleyball, or just sticking your nose in a good book.

That’s not all. Adjacent to Stinson Beach is a 51-acre park with more than 100 picnic tables (some with grills), and a snack bar is open April through September. Restrooms and showers also are available, but there are no campgrounds or RV parks.

Stinson Beach is open year round every day. The entrance gates open at 9 a.m. Closing times vary depending on season. Check the posted sign when you enter the parking lot.

How to get to Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is located on Highway 1 just north of San Francisco. If you’re a photography buff, the views along the way will have you fumbling for your Nikon nonstop. But if you’re prone to car sickness, well, getting to Stinson Beach can be quite the, shall we say, “adventure.” While extremely scenic, the roads leading here are full of more twists and turns than a crime novel! For that reason, vehicles over 35 feet are not recommended.

Directions from San Francisco
After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, take Highway 101 North approximately three miles to the “Highway 1, Stinson Beach” exit. Follow the signs and marvel at some of the best scenery in the country. Stinson Beach is approximately 20 miles from San Francisco.

From Sacramento
Take Interstate 80 West to 580 West to Highway 101 South. Take exit “Highway 1, Stinson Beach”, approximately three miles north of San Francisco. Follow the signs enjoy the picturesque drive.

From Northern California
Follow Highway 101 South to exit “Highway 1, Stinson Beach”. Follow the signs; they’ll lead you directly into Stinson Beach.

Alternative to Highway 1
While on Highway 1 traveling to Stinson Beach, you’ll come to a sign giving notice to Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Turn right at this point and take Panoramic Highway through the park. It will take you back to Highway 1 and will end a few blocks south of Stinson Beach.

Don’t have your own car?
Marin Transit provides rural transit service seven days a week to Stinson Beach with the West Marin Stagecoach. For more information on routes and schedules, please visit their website at: www.MarinTransit.org

Stinson Beach rules and regulations

  • Pets are not allowed on the National Park Service section of the beach.
  • Dogs are allowed on leash in the parking lot, picnic areas, and on the county beach.
  • Alcohol is permitted if you are over 21.
  • No kegs or glass containers of any type are allowed on the beach.
  • Fires are permitted in designated spots in the picnic area only.
  • No fires or grills are allowed on the beach.
  • Inner tubes and motorized recreational equipment are prohibited in swimming areas.
  • Fishing is permitted under California Fish and Game Guidelines.
  • Permits are required for large groups and special events.
  • Camping is not permitted.

Note: Cars left in the parking lot after closing will be ticketed. If you are unable to remove your vehicle, please contact a ranger or leave a note on the windshield and notify park dispatch

Stinson Beach adventures and outfitters

Need some gear for your Stinson Beach adventures? Give these folks a call.

Cycling
BoBo Bikes & Skate (415) 868-1873
GravyWheels (Fairfax) (415) 595-0780

Kayaks & life jacket rentals
Stinson Beach Surf & Kayak (415) 868-2739

Surfboard & wetsuit sales/rentals
Stinson Beach Surf & Kayak (415) 868-2739
Livewater Surf Shop (415) 868-0333
2 Mile Surf Shop (415) 868-0264

Stay safe on Stinson Beach

  • Swimming is only recommended from late May to mid-September, when lifeguards are on duty.
  • If you’re visiting with kids, watch them and keep them in reach at all times.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean. Unexpected large waves, called sneaker waves, can wash farther up the shore than expected.
  • People entering shallow water can be caught in rip currents and quickly pulled out into deep water. If you find yourself caught in one, stay calm and swim parallel to the beach until you’re out of the current, then swim toward the shore with incoming waves. If you need assistance, wave your arms and yell for help.
  • Be aware of the potential for sharks close to shore in shallow water. Attacks have occurred here

Stinson Beach area points of interest

There are a lot of reasons to visit the Stinson Beach and the West Marin County area apart from the beach itself. Make time to explore some (or all) of these key attractions.

Point Reyes Lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore
The crown jewel of this 70,000-acre wilderness area is the1870 lighthouse, perched high on a windswept cliff. Scan the ocean for whales (January through March) while you navigate the 308-step walkway leading to this historic national treasure. Or hike or bike the 70-plus miles of trails and keep on the lookout for wildflowers and more than 400 bird species at the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. Be sure to pop in at any of the three visitor centers so you’ll know what to look for.

Bolinas Lagoon Preserve
Harbor seals are a popular sight here, as are nesting egrets and great blue herons during the spring.

Mt. Tamalpais State Park
Knockout views of the entire San Francisco Bay region – including the Farallon Islands some 25 miles out to sea – await the hiker atop this 2,571-foot peak, home of abundant wildlife. Enjoy a picnic, walk a trail, or camp; it’s all good. For more info, contact the ranger station at (415) 388-2070.

Muir Woods
Treat yourself to a cool, shady stroll among 500-year-old redwoods at this 560-acre national monument. There are six miles of mostly flat paved trails, making the walk easy even for wheelchairs and strollers.

Red Rock Beach
You’ll have to take someone else’s word for it, not ours. This is said to be the north coast’s friendliest and most popular nude beach. Like all nude beaches, it’s a bit tricky to get to. About a half mile south of Stinson Beach, look for a roadside turnout that you can use for parking, although there are no signs. You’ll have a 15-minute, poison-oak filled hike down a steep ravine trail to get to the beach, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. There are no facilities at Red Rock Beach, but there’s a natural spring for drinking.

Marin Headlands
Hiking, biking, and horse trails cross high bluffs and grassy meadows at this 12,000-acre oasis in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area between the Golden Gate Bridge and Stinson Beach. On site is a Marine Mammal Center, which is dedicated to the recovery and release of injured or sick seals and other marine mammals. Last but not least, the views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge are absolutely unbeatable – a photographer’s paradise!

Need more info on Stinson Beach? Keep these numbers handy

Information and weather (415) 868-1922

Lifeguard tower (415) 868-0942

Muir Woods National Monument (415) 388-2596

Pantoll Ranger Station (Mt. Tamalpais State Park) (415) 388-2070

Golden Gate Transit (415) 455-2000

Special Park Uses Office (permits) (415) 561-4300

The town of Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach isn’t just a beach; it’s also the name of the small town surrounding the beach. Here you’ll find a bookshop, a small grocery, a library, a couple of gift stores, and restaurants where you can sit outdoors with a beer and enjoy the view.

Where to eat

Surrounded by organic farms and ranches, Stinson Beach has no shortage of tasty, good-for-you food. But you can always grab a good old fashioned hamburger, too! Here are some of our favorite places to enjoy a meal.

Parkside Café
43 Arenal Ave., Stinson Beach (local organic food, snacks, hot dogs, ice cream); (415) 868-1272

Sand Dollar Restaurant
(cioppino, clam chowder, steaks): 3458 Highway 1, Stinson Beach; (415) 868-0434

Stinson Beach Grill
(elegant dinners): 3464 Highway 1, Stinson Beach; (415) 868-2002

Surfers Grill
(fish and chips, corn dogs): On the beach at Stinson, (415) 868-1777

Stinson Beach Market
(barbecue and picnic supplies, deli): 101 Calle Del Mar, Stinson Beach; (415) 868-1923

Where to stay

Why not stretch your stay at Stinson Beach over several days? We recommend the following accommodations.

Highway One Properties
Vacation rentals; Stinson Beach (415) 868-0288;  www.hwyoneprop.escapia.com

Pelican Inn
English-style country inn and pub; 10 Pacific Highway, Muir Beach (415) 383-6000; www.pelicaninn.com

The Sandpiper
Six rooms and four cabins; 1 Marine Way, Stinson Beach (415) 868-1632

Steep Ravine Cabins
Rustic cabins on Highway 1; (415) 388-2070; www.hipcamp.com



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