West Coast, Best Coast

I wrapped up my time in the United States by spending a week in my hometown.  I got to see some friends I’ve known for a long time (23 years!) and get outside.  If you’re thinking of visiting California, the north bay specifically, here are my favorite things to do.

Lands EndThis is in San Francisco.  The views are absolutely astonishing, especially if you get lucky and there isn’t any fog.  Walk around the trails, meander through the labyrinth, or just relax on a bench and take in the views of what looks like the end of the world.


Spring LakeYou can drive up for a day trip or reserve a campsite and stay overnight.  Go for a bike ride around the park and jump in the lake for a cool down swim, or just chill on the lake all day.

Point Reyes: You’ll find some of the best hiking and camping around!  You really can’t go wrong with anything here.  My favorite hike is out to Alamere Falls and my favorite campground is Wildcat – reserve early, it fills up.

Sugarloaf Ridge: This state park boasts a beautiful waterfall in the “winter months.”  Set out early for a hike and finish your day at a local vineyard for some wine.


Salmon Creek: It’s not actually a creek, it’s a beach…with a creek.  When there’s a heat streak inland, this is where you’ll want to be.  You’ll get lower temperatures and a sunset on the beach to finish off the day.  Bring an umbrella if you like standing out as a tourist.

Helen PutnamI’m a little bias on this one, I grew up right near here.  I love being able to take a short drive and get in a 3 or 4 mile walk with pretty stunning views.  Also a great place for hill sprints, but only if you’re into pure misery.


Coppola Vineyard: This was on my to-do list this trip, but the weather just wasn’t right.  You can reserve a pool-side cabine and sip wine in the sun.

Oysters: Enjoy deliciously fresh oysters from Tomales bay.

Armstrong Woods: Armstrong Woods is a lot less crowded than the famous Muir Woods.  Take in the serene redwood forest.  Better yet, catch a show in the amphitheater.


Of course, this list is not extensive and is highly focused on outdoor activities in the North Bay.  There are also all of the touristy things to do in San Francisco and the numerous wine tours.  The west coast really is one of my favorite places.  I loved having the opportunity to grow up 25 minutes from the beach, 30 minutes from some of the world’s best hikes, 3-4 hours from fantastic skiing (back when Tahoe got lots of snow), and 45 minutes from San Francisco.  I always miss the dry heat, cool nights around a fire, and some close friends who have known me for a very long time.