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Posts Tagged ‘Stinson Beach’

redwood tree, Muir WoodsA million people a year come to Muir Woods, California, to gaze up at the world’s tallest living things. John and I are among them, treading the boardwalk that winds through the redwood trees along Redwood Creek, hearing exclamations of amazement in a dozen languages.  Muir Woods National Monument is a 560-acre park 12 miles north of the Gold Gate Bridge, open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, with an entrance fee for ages 16 and older. There’s a visitor center and a gift shop, but everyone’s here for those magnificent, big trees. And I do mean big. Some coast redwoods are more than 252 feet high and 14 feet wide. Mature trees are 500 to 800 years old, and some have been standing for 1,000 years. (Redwoods in other California forests can reach 380 feet and 2,000 years.) They are beyond impressive, they give new meaning to awesome.

We’re on the main canyon floor, where bridges across the creek allow short loop walks into the woods and back on the other side. Rangers are on hand to answer questions and good-naturedly take pictures of  kids posing against giant trees. Six miles of unpaved trails meander through Muir Woods, connecting with trails in Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

Mt. Tam is our other destination. It’s only a 40-minute drive from downtown San Francisco, but a world away, with trees, chaparral, and miles of trails  instead of high-rise buildings and concrete sidewalks.  The view from East Peak, view from Mt. Tamat 2,571 feet, is spectacular in every direction, even to the snowy Sierra Nevadas on the horizon. There’s a visitor center, open weekends, and a wheelchair-accessible trail. The Mt. Tamalpais Interpretive Association offers guided hikes, walks in the moonlight, and astronomy nights in summer, with telescopes for watching the stars.

I’ll be back for those, but lunch is currently on my mind. We head for Stinson Beach, a few miles from the park. This cafelittle coastal town (pop. 486) has antique and gift shops, a beach park, and a terrific cafe, Breakers. At a table on the patio, I’m eating the best chicken tortilla soup I’ve tasted outside of Mexico, and even better than some served there. John’s BLT is crammed with fresh tomatoes and thick, crispy bacon. The lemonade is tart and good. We love this place, and so do many others. The line of hungry customers extends to the front door.

Good food, a sunny day, and incredible natural beauty: perfection.

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