"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bolinas: a loop from downtown to the beach

No signs lead to Bolinas, so it’s difficult to bumble upon this seaside village. In the spirit of day tripping, Bolinas is a beautiful, quiet place to bring a baby or a child, especially mid-week when there’s less of a weekend crowd, as it’s no secret hideaway in the age of GPS. 

The Baby Factor

The one-mile loop is easy for small kids and babies in slings, and the beach is expansive, with plenty of room for running and playing. Keep in mind there’s no shade on the beach.

There are few lunch options besides picnicking. Kids might appreciate the Coast Café with its high chairs, crayons, chalk for using on the patio tiles, and Raggedy Ann dolls. Parents like the organic food grown within 25 miles of Bolinas. Next-door is the Bolinas Market, with tables and a grassy area behind the store.

The Details

Start on downtown’s main street, Wharf Road, at the library, the Bolinas Market, or the Coast Café, for food, water, and the bathroom. Walk east on Wharf Road towards the mountains, passing crab fishermen at the muddy flats, a boat club, a gallery, a hotel, and dozens of houses perched over the water on stilts. Wharf Road dead-ends at a rocky jumble where the Pacific Ocean meets Bolinas Lagoon; a salty old bench faces the sea and a leg of land from Stinson Beach.

Hug the shore to get to the wide beach—there’s about a hundred feet where land and sea merge. High tide makes the path impassable for children; your hike’s shape will be a horseshoe rather than a loop.

The beach is wide and sandy, strewn with flotsam in its upper reaches, decorated with driftwood, and bordered by a steep hill covered in greenery. Kids play naked, surfers ride waves, and women sunbathe.

A concrete ramp with graffiti-covered sides leads to Brighton Avenue, a street that connects with Wharf Road and downtown Bolinas. During high tide, enter the beach here.