Discovering Northern California
Marin County California

West Marin vs East Marin

Marin County California could easily be subdivided into two distinct districts, each with its own attributes and style.

Western Marin is essentially coastal and foggy; full of nature preserves, rugged wildernesses, wildlife, and dramatic scenery - as you can see from the photo above. That's just one of the fabulous views you'll discover when you explore the Marin Headlands. But, there are sophisticated communities and luxury to be found as well!

Eastern Marin, on the other hand, is the ultimate in socially-motivated and eccentric sophistication, with it's moneyed, fashionable communities like Sausalito, Tiburon, and Mill Valley.

This is where you'll find the spas, shopping, fine dining, and luxury hotels. But, there's open space to explore as well!

Both flips of the coin are worthy of visits during a Marin weekend, or an extended Marin vacation.

West Marin County California

Visit West Marin County when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco Bay Area crowds and traffic.

For it's here that you'll find the contrasts of drama and serenity, of isolation and connection, of quiet beauty and turbulence...

Made up almost entirely of state and national protected areas and parklands, West Marin is an idyllic haven for hikers, campers, nature buffs, birders, lovers of wildlife, and Sunday drivers.

At Point Reyes National Seashore you'll discover thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands, forested ridges, grasslands, sage-brush hillsides, long sandy beaches, and over 1000 varieties of plants and animals. Don't miss the Bear Valley Earthquake Trail!

Explore Muir Woods National Monument to visit old-growth Coastal Redwoods, ancient horsetail ferns, and the vast array of fabulous colors and shapes of its countless varieties of mushroom and other fungi. Discover North America's largest land mollusk, the Banana Slug. Enjoy the sight of thousands of ladybugs that converge on Muir Woods each summer.

For more redwood forests and oak woodlands, plus extraordinary views of Marin, San Francisco, The Bay, the East Bay, and Mount Diablo, hike to the top of Mt. Tam in Mount Tamalpais State Park.

But don't just visit the parks - you'll miss a lot of the allure of West Marin County if you don't explore some of the little hamlets like Stinson Beach (have lunch at The Sand Dollar), reclusive Bolinas (be sure to visit the Bolinas Museum), and sleepy Olema (stay at the historic Olema Druids Hall).

East Marin County California

While East Marin County has its share of state parks and open air spaces, it's better known for its luxurious homes, fancy cars, and civic-minded liberal attitudes; houseboats, ferries, and sailboats; boutique-y shops, signature accommodations, and hedonistic restaurants than it is for its parks.

In short, it's my go-to place when I want to be a fancy girl and live the good life! With its unique combinations of sea-side village-esque and cultivated sophistication, family-friendliness and worldly urbanity, it's a near-perfect go-to spot for everyone!

Whether you choose the Who-Says-Money-Can't-Buy-Happiness route or the Nature-Nurture route, you'll find what you're looking for in East Marin County California!

Browse the trendy shopping destinations of Corte Madera, Sausalito, or Tiburon; have a luxury spa treatment at Cavallo Point; enjoy waterfront dining at Scoma's in Sausalito or The Caprice in Tiburon; catch a film-as-art showing at the beautifully restored Art Deco Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center or catch a concert by the internationally-acclaimed Marin Symphony, both in San Rafael...

But if you're more into the outdoorsy and quirky side of things, visit the Ring Mountain or Spendrift Point Nature Preserves; do a walking tour of the famous Sausalito houseboat community (don't miss the Taj Mahal!); take the ferry to Angel Island State Park for a day of biking or a visit to the Immigration Station Museum; spend some time at the Bay Model Visitor Center or the Marine Mammal Center, Old St. Hilary's Historic Preserve, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, China Camp State Park with its Chinese fishing village, or the China Cabin Maritime Museum...

Whichever type of experience you're looking for, it's a safe bet that you'll be glad you chose to spend time in Eastern Marin County!

We'll have more to share with you about Marin County California in the coming weeks; things like:

  • Marin County Attractions
    Marin County attractions all seem to be big and expansive, like Point Reyes National Seashore, Muir Woods, Angel Island...
  • Marin County Beaches
    They're not all in Western Marin!
  • Marin County Communities
    From Beach Towns to Inland Empires!
  • Marin County Parks and Preserves
    State Parks, Nature Preserves, Marshes and Bogs!

Please continue your exploration of what Northern California has to offer by using the Nav Bars in the left and right columns or by using the links at the bottom of the page.

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