Rodeo Beach and the Marin Headlands

May 18, 2007

marin headlandsFor Mothers Day, I decided that we were going to have a picnic at the beach, so we ended up going to Rodeo Beach at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands. I hadn’t been there in a long time, and since it was such a nice day I thought it would be a really fun beach to revisit. It’s also a little closer than schlepping all the way out to Point Reyes, where we usually go. My kids loved the long tunnel you use to enter onto Bunker Road and the open space of the Marin Headlands. I had forgotten how beautiful the drive was out to the beach.

When we got out there, I realized that many other moms and families had the same idea for Mothers Day, although it really wasn’t overly crowded on the beach itself. When you go out to a place like Rodeo Beach, you realize how lucky we are to live in beautiful place like this. I always remembered Rodeo Beach as a place where surfers go to catch a wave, and there were naturally a lot of surfers doing their thing there that day. The Headlands is one of those places that manages to feel so far away from civilization even though it’s really very close, as the amazing views of the city from various places out there will attest. There’s even a Muni bus, of all things, that runs out there on weekends. During May, the pelicans return to Rodeo Lagoon, which lies adjacent to the beach; you actually cross it on a little footbridge in order to get to the beach itself. We saw all kinds of wildlife, including the aforementioned brown pelicans, hawks, and quite a few colorful little red and blue insects that looked like miniature dragonflies, which the kids really enjoyed chasing around.

Really, there’s so much to see and do here that I’ll have to cover more aspects of it in additional articles.

What to Bring

Most of the easy trails can be managed with a sturdy jogging stroller, but a baby backpack is a necessity on the narrower, steeper ones. As with all places on the Marin coast, weather can be unpredictable,  so pack your sunscreen and hats along with the sweaters and parkas. There's not much in the way of amenities out here, so bring your picnic and snacks. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are available in the visitors center in the old base chapel up the road from Rodeo Beach.

Getting There

Take US 101 south to the last Sausalito exit. Turn right onto Sausalito Lateral Road and follow it back under the freeway. Turn left on Bunker Road and follow it into the Marin Headlands. There may be a wait at the single lane tunnel to allow traffic coming from the opposite direction. The tunnel can get pretty backed up on really nice weekends. Follow Bunker Road all the way out to Fort Cronkhite and Rodeo Beach. There's plenty of parking.

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Nice Write-Up

This is one of our favorite spots-- a little bit of everything: sand, surf, picnicking, hiking, but the best part is how close it is. The bathrooms are usually pretty clean, too. And the Marine Mammal Center is just up the road. We've been there to see the seals.