One of the best family beaches in the Bay Area, this sheltered inlet offers fabulous views, swimmable surf (older kids and adults only), a protected swimming area for younger paddlers, plus picnic tables, barbecues, and myriad family-accessible hiking trails. Muir Beach nestles in an inlet between Rodeo Beach and Stinson Beach, about a 20-minute drive from Mill Valley. The inlet is protected by the surrounding cliffs, making Muir a good choice when the more open Stinson Beach is too rough or windy. Swimming: The water is chilly, as it is anywhere around the Bay Area, but on warm days resolute swimmers brave the chill. Luckily, a stream coming down from the mountains provides a perfect fresh-water swimming hole for the wading-and-splashing set. The cold stream water is usually backed up at the ocean's edge on the north end of the inlet and forms a shallow, sun-warmed lagoon perfect for safe water play. Lying further to the north, just before the beach ends, is a traditionally swimsuit-optional area. Climbing: The north end of the beach is filled with large boulders and rock cliffs that will fascinate climbers. These rocks provide good shelter for a family picnic as well as a chance to observe starfish, crabs, shells, and other marine life. Hiking: A short hike can bring even more dramatic views. At the south end of the cove are several trails leading up into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Although the trails can be steep, they're wide and most are manageable by kids ages 4 and older. Even a short half-hour stroll to the top of the ridge is rewarding for its views of the beach and the Marin headlands to the south. Lunch: Bring one. There are no stores close to the beach, but you can find picnic tables and barbecues near the parking area. If you're in the mood for dinner after your day in the sun, stop at the Pelican Inn (corner of Highway 1 and the entrance to the Muir Beach parking area) for traditional English ales and food in a cozy pub atmosphere.
You won't find lifeguards here and the surf may be too much for younger kids; we recommend keeping weak swimmers or anyone under 6 out of the surf. Check the weather before you set out. Coastal fog or high winds can ruin a day at the beach in Marin. Bring a warm jacket, even on a warm day. The weather can change quickly.
Get there early in the day, especially on weekends. The parking lot is small and fills up by 10:30AM. From San Francisco, take 101N and the Mill Valley/Stinson Beach exit and follow the signs for Stinson Beach. After the highway drops down from the hills to sea level, turn left at the sign for Muir Beach. The road dead-ends at the beach parking area.
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