Only an hour and a half drive from San Francisco, Bolinas spins in a galaxy of its own making. This small, odd town in Marin County isn't about to change for anyone, so it's only fit for a certain kind of traveler. If you're the type who likes to quietly observe the wildlife - people or otherwise - then Bolinas might be the place for you.
See & Do
If you're interested in a different kind of wildlife than the lively surfers and standout locals of Bolinas, then explore the wild nature of Point Reyes National Seashore. Bring your binoculars for spectacular sightings year round on land (elk), sea (humpback whales), and air (Great-Horned Owls.) Even if you don't spot animals, the jaw dropping views of the Pacific are eye-candy enough.
Since less than two-thousand people live in Bolinas, you can't expect the grand selection of restaurants that San Francisco offers on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, warm and friendly Coast Cafe takes second place to no one in terms of locally and environmentally prepared dishes. And nothing completes a Bolinas day like beers and oysters at the Cafe.
Established in 1851, with a solid claim as the oldest saloon West of the Mississippi, Smiley's Schooner Saloon may look its age but does not act it. Yes, the floorboards creak and the wood smells as old and damp as flotsam and jetsam, but lively locals and surfers keep the atmosphere dynamic and fun.
Grand Hotel puts the signature Bolinas "irk" in "quirky." The first sign - literally - that Bolinas likes to have some fun with visitors is the impressive sign of the Grand Hotel. Don't let the big bulbs fool you - what you'll really be getting is a modest room above a dusty secondhand store. If you don't like it, half the town is eager to show you the door.
Don't let the fact that locals tear down signs for Bolinas convince you that this seaside town is simply full of cranks. Bolinas Book Exchange is a great example of the trusting heart of Bolinas: if you find a book you like in this unmanned bookstore, then leave the appropriate amount of money in the lockbox. What other town could pull that off?