Have you been able to travel this year? We sure haven’t, but a quick trip to the Marin Headlands (just 20 miles from home) gave us the “Getaway” we needed. Trips like this remind you of the beauty and excitement of nature that exist right outside your door.
This post is part of a series on travel close to home. You can find more posts from this series on my page Getaways Near Me (or You)
A couple of weeks ago, we headed over to the Marin Headlands to revisit this unique part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. We exit the highway and start up the small road leading out over the cliffs. I am astounded at first by the ridiculous crowds. My husband and I both think … “Did we make a mistake coming here? There are so many people!”
Every place to pull over and look out over the cliffs towards San Francisco is crowded with cars and people. We finally make it past the crowds and head down towards the lighthouse at Point Bonita. We find a parking space and hike our way down to the lighthouse. The reward for our patience is this lovely, unobstructed view of the Golden Gate Bridge with Alcatraz just peeking out from behind.
Point Bonita Lighthouse
The lighthouse at Point Bonita sits at the mouth of San Francisco Bay and has been signaling to ships coming into the “Gate” since 1877. Few people actually do the hike out to the lighthouse. So going the “extra mile” is truly worth the effort!
The hike down to the lighthouse is just about 1/2 mile. The scary part is crossing the ancient-looking bridge to get the lighthouse proper. Once across the bridge, we get to explore the tiny buildings on the edge of the rocks.
In the old days, these buildings provided shelter for the “keeper” night and day. The lighthouse is automated now and like most maintained by the United States Coast Guard.
Point Bonita, the third lighthouse built on the west coast, now sits on this treacherous outcropping of rocks. The original tower, erected in 1855, was actually on a higher ridge about 300 feet above the water. However, the thick fog that frequently carpets the bay obscured the light.
In 1877, the lighthouse was relocated to where it sits today. Today this gracious building still shepherds ships through the Golden Gate straits.
The Marine Mammal Center @ the Marin Headlands
When we finish our visit of the lighthouse, we follow the road down the hill from Point Bonita to the northeast heading for the Marine Mammal Center. Located at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands, the Marine Mammal Center is a leader in the field of ocean conservation. The center is renown for its work in marine mammal rescue, veterinary science, and education.
There are a number of rescued marine mammals in varying stages of recovery housed in the hospital here. In addition there are exhibits about local wildlife and of course a gift shop!
The center is open daily and offers guided tours of the facility and “hospital” where the recovering animals are sheltered. Tours are Mon – Fri at 1 and 3 pm; Sat & Sun at 11 am, 1 and 3 pm. The cost for the tour is $10 for adults with discounts for children, seniors, and the Military.
After touring the Marine Mammal Center, we head over to Rodeo Beach to stretch our legs and play in the surf. You can’t beat a walk on the beach to bring you peace! A Grand Finale to a very fun day.
The Marin Headlands -A Great Day Trip
Our day is filled with sun and fresh air. We learn new things about the history of where we live. We visit seals and sea lions. And take a long walk on a beautiful beach. It doesn’t get much better than this.
From nearly anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Marin Headlands makes a great day trip.