Currently Wandering » Outdoor Family, Adventure Travel, Simple Living - Family of 5 Traveling the United States in an Airstream.

The Marin Headlands in San Francisco

Its amazing to me how little we explore our own backyards. Sam has family in Petaluma, CA which is about an hour north of San Francisco. We have been out there countless times over the last 11 years to visit with family, yet I am still finding new and exciting places to explore. Either that means there’s more out there than someone can visit in a lifetime, or we’ve been really, really lazy the last decade.

When We Visited: December 1, 2014
Ages of Kids: 9, 7. 4
Tips: The headlands are part of the larger Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with countless hiking & biking trails, scenic drives, forts, batteries, lighthouses, and areas to explore. Just pick a small area to visit and save the rest for next time!

Marin Headlands_08When we went back to the Bay Area for Thanksgiving, I chose to visit the Marin Headlands with the kids so we could add to their collection of Jr. Ranger Badges. There are quite a few to earn in this area (we’ve also done Point Reyes, John Muir NHS, Muir Woods, & the San Francisco Maritime Museum) so I try and pick just one to do every time we are in the area.

Although the weather was a bit chilly and overcast at times, the Marin Headlands park was beautiful! We started out at the Visitor Center to pick up our booklets and view the exhibits, and then drove out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. The walk down to the lighthouse is pretty steep, but we found a group of seals barking on the rocks below us and there’s a pretty cool tunnel to walk through. Both kept the kids interested and excited about the hike!

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My favorite part was crossing the bridge to get out to the lighthouse.

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The lighthouse are is not very large, but the views are spectacular and the history is interesting. We spent some time talking to the docent, and working on our booklets. The lighthouse was built in 1855 in response to the 1849 gold rush and the increased amount of ships entering the San Francisco Bay. As we sat and watched the waves crash, and looked at the rugged coastline we could easily understand how so many ships would crash and sink along this route!

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After we slogged back up the hill we enjoyed the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and explore Battery Wallace.

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We were even graced with a double rainbow. See? It pays to get out even in “bad” weather!

Marin Headlands_18After we had thoroughly explore the fort, we drove back down to the Visitor Center. We had planned to hike out to Rodeo Beach, but we ran out of time. It was nearing late afternoon and I didn’t want to get caught up in crazy city traffic on our way home. The Marin Headlands badge is one of the coolest we’ve earned though, so I’m glad we took the time to drive out there and visit!

On my bucket list is tent camping in one of the few campgrounds they have out there. None are trailer friendly, but camping on the hills overlooking the city? Yes, please! Also on my list is the Jr. Ranger Badge out at Alcatraz Island. This park is so large and there is so much to do out there that we’ll have to take a few more trips in as we keep visiting over the years.

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  • danielle - That looks like a great place to visit! I like the bridge also!ReplyCancel

  • Christa Gonzalez - Questions: what type of camera do you use? Tips on manual mode? What’s your most used lens?(: get back to me when you can I became instantly In love with your blog! You inspire me(:ReplyCancel

    • Jess - Christa – thanks so much!! I have a Canon 5D Mark II. Occassionally I’ll post some from our Samsung NX300 as well when I’m too lazy to bring the “big” camera along. 🙂 My favorite lens is definitely the 16-35, or lately even the 24-70mm. I love shooting wide angle! Hmmm… tips on manual mode. Have you read the book Understanding Exposure? It does wonders for understanding the relationship between ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. I honestly shoot on aperture mode most of the time now because it’s just one less thing to think about!ReplyCancel

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