North of San Francisco lies a stretch of California coastline that nobody ever tells you about. Locals play sly. And tourists? It rarely crosses their radar.
But it’s road-trip country at its best, checking all the right boxes from secret beaches to neck-craning views to oysters sold right at the bayside farms growing them. It takes two leisurely days to complete this jaunt, but the region’s laid-back vibes and unhurried pace will make those two feel like a week—at least. Start by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and you’re well on your way.
Water World, Cali-Style
If a road trip is only as good as its pit stops, you know this one is guaranteed to be great because Sausalito’s floating homes are no run-of-the-mill roadside attraction. Pull off Hwy 101, park the car in the open-to-all lot, and unholster your camera: These color-packed abodes sport the kind of maritime-theme add-ons that only a bunch of endearingly quirky houseboats could: weathered spy tours, portholes, bows in lieu of porches.
A Secret, Stunning Coastal Hike
After a series of scenic switchbacks past eucalyptus groves, organic farms, and viewpoints you’ll undoubtedly want to pull over for, you’ll arrive at Muir Beach. It’s a pretty little scoop of sand cupped between a hillside community and a set of serious cliffs. But it’s not the reason you’re here. The wildly beautiful nine-mile hiking loop from here to Tennessee Valley is. Scamper up the cliffs (the hike evens out after your initial ascent), and when the trail forks, head right, hugging the ocean. With the epic edge-of-the-world feel, it’s like a thrill ride you walk.
The Freshest Oysters Ever
For the best oysters you'll ever eat, head south to the pint-size town of Marshall. Stop by the Tomales Bay Oyster Company and grab a bag of oysters. Since you’re no longer able to eat them on-site, the smart road-tripper hops back in the car and cruises down the coast about half a mile to Millerton Point, and its sweep of beach. Of course this means you need oyster-shucking accoutrements and fixings on hand. Bring them with you, grab them while you’re at Tomales Bay, or pop into The Marshall Store before you hit Tomales. Your mission for the day: Shuck, slurp, sunbathe. Repeat.