With the rains fading into a misty past, shake out that big blanket, find a bottle opener and some plastic wineglasses, it’s time to head outside for a picnic! Here’s a list of some great outdoor lunching spots.
The Hippie Tree - Who knew there’s a bohemian tree in Tiburon. Such a well kept secret. It’s a spot to enjoy scenery that stretches from the City to the Golden Gate Bridge. Spread out your blanket and take a swing on the tree. The location is in the middle of a neighborhood of multi-million dollar homes so be respectful of the neighbors. Just past 100 Gilmartin, Tiburon.
China Camp State Park – So named for the historic Chinese American shrimp-fishing village, China Camp has a number of scenic picnic sites with locations in open meadows, grassy lawns, or along the shores of San Pablo Bay. Bring the family for a day outing or a special barbecue. During the week, most picnic areas are lightly used, and even on weekends, there are usually ample facilities for anyone who wants to enjoy a nice picnic in a quiet and serene place.
Angel Island State Park - We peer at it everyday, that land mass across from Tiburon but so often it’s overlooked as a destination. A short ferry ride away, this hidden gem offers a new perspective on views of the Bay, tons of hiking trails and other outdoor activities. There are picnic tables a short walk rom the ferry dock, but there are plenty of overlook to spread a blanket too.
Muir Beach - A quite cove, beach and lagoon. A 450 foot long pedestrian bridge connects visitors from the Muir Beach parking lot over the new floodplain to the beach and Coastal Trail. Hike up to the overlook picnic spot which has endless views but it can be windy, so dress warmly and hang onto your plate of food. The northernmost end of the beach is clothing optional so be forewarned. And, if you forgot your picnic items, you can always backtrack to the entrance to the beach from Highway One, where the Pelican Inn allows guests to “picnic” on their lawn.
The Cheese Factory - Marin French Cheese Company on Point Reyes/Petaluma Road. On one side of the store and tasting room is an expansive lawn dotted with picnic tables and a pond filled with geese and ducks. Behind the building there are more picnic tables and lawn and plenty of trees for shade. A deli inside with sandwiches, soups, salads, beverages and cheese will satisfy your hunger if you’ve underprepared.
Bass Lake - Get there early as the lot fills up fast on the weekends. It’s a slight uphill hike to the lake along a high ridge along the coast before tucking inland. The lake is just the right size, cool and inviting. While there aren’t many lakeside lounging options you can picnic in a grassy area just above. A rope swing invites the adventurous to launch themselves into the crystal blue water.
Directions: Take Highway 1 north from Stinson Beach. Just north of Bolinas Lagoon, turn left on the often-unmarked exit to Bolinas. Follow the road as it curves along the lagoon and eventually ends at Olema-Bolinas Road, and continue along Olema-Bolinas Road to the stop sign at Mesa Road. Turn right on Mesa and drive four miles, until it becomes a dirt road and ends at a parking lot.
Hearts Desire Beach at Tomales State Park - On the opposite side of chilly and windy Inverness Ridge is a sheltered white stretch of sand that runs along Tomales Bay. The water is calm and perfect for wading and swimming, kayaking and SUP. The parking lot connects the beach to an extensive network of picnic areas with tables and grills. There are also many hiking trails that can take you to other beaches such as Pebble and Shell Beach.
West Point Inn, Mt. Tamalpais State Park - This one you’ll have to work for! Start at the Mountain Home Inn and walk up the fire road to the West Point Inn. The views are jaw dropping and there are picnic tables to put out your spread. Take Nora Trail and the Matt Davis trail back to the Mountain Home where you can sit out on the large deck and order a drink to toast your adventure.
Now get out there and have fun!