The Undiscovered Wonders of Marin

From dense forests to rolling farm hills and stop-your-car sunsets and views, Marin County is 520 square miles of pure beauty. It is also the home of some undiscovered wonders that will captivate young and old, athlete and intellectual alike. Here are some of our favorites:

In the Moment

The co-founder of Polaroid, George Wheelwright, donated much of the 115 acres that the Green Gulch Center sits on. His only condition: Public access to the trails that lead you from the hills to the shore below. You can start at Muir Beach and hike the 4-mile loop for a stroll through the Center’s gardens.

Green Gulch was organic well before the start of today’s ever-popular farmers markets and organic frenzy. In fact its organic farm is the food mainstay for Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. In addition to a working farm, it’s also a meditation center and getaway retreat. You can call Green Gulch home for the night with a stay in the center’s octagonal Lindisfarne Guest House. It’s serene—and your meals (organic of course) are included. Or if you’re more ambitious, consider Hope Cottage a truly spectacular retreat on the Pacific Coast. Perched on a hill and nestled in a grove of Monterey pines, it takes some legwork to reach via a 25-minute hike from the Zen Center.

Looking for more inspiration? The Spirit Rock Meditation Center in the Woodacre area of West Marin may be just the spot. It draws experts from across the country for day and evening classes as well as a few overnight retreats.

Adventures in the Dark

Take an evening trek into the Marin Headlands, just northwest of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Those with a fear of heights might skip the half-mile jaunt, which includes traversing a short suspension bridge that leads you over the cliffs below to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. The free 45-minute tours of the Point Bonita Lighthouse are offered monthly during the full moon (8 pm -10 pm). Be sure to check or call for dates as reservations are required. Want to enjoy the lighthouse view from land? Battery Wallace, located near the Point Bonita trail head, is one of the Marin Headland’s best picnic spots, complete with grills and tables—and a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Get Inspired

Each Fall, the Mill Valley Film Fest brings undiscovered films—and some big name stars to share their perspectives on their craft. The intersection of Throckmorton and Miller Avenues marks the center of town, which usually buzzes with activity during the festival. Check out the Depot area where Bill Graham donated a number of permanent chess tables.

For 30+ years, Marin residents have enjoyed their own homegrown book enclave, including some of the best author events, writing and language classes, and nationally recognized annual conferences. Book Passage’s Cooks with Books events partners all-star chefs (and cookbook authors) at local Marin hot spots for not-to-be-missed gourmet evenings. Their Book Groups are a great way to meet other Marin locals and chat about books focused on medicine/literature, contemporary reads and classics.

Back to the Future

Held at Toby’s Feed Barn, the Point Reyes Farmer’s Market has that genuine small town feel—because that’s what it is. It’s the only all local, all organic market in the Bay Area. It was the organic focus—not the fun music and cooking demos—that attracted the attention and visit b HRH Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall a few years back.

Architectural Wonders

For Frank Lloyd Wright fans, the Marin County Civic Center is a must see. Featuring distinctive design elements, the Center was the famed architect’s last major commission (and is now protected as a national and state historic landmark.) Tour the entire complex and enjoy an 11-acre lagoon, 20-acre park and the Marin Center Auditorium and Exhibition Hall.

When Beryl Hamilton Buck died in the mid-1970s, she left a good portion of her estimated $12 million estate to The San Francisco Foundation—with the caveat that the funds be used for charitable purposes in Marin County. That generous gift led to the founding of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, a 488-acre parcel of undeveloped land on Mt. Burdell in Novato and an acclaimed I.M Pei-designed facility. You can take a tour and enjoy the architecture—or take in a  lecture for some timely insights on staying young and healthy.

Now is the time to get inspired—get going to all corners of Marin County.

The Coordinates (select regions within Marin County)

West Marin

Average sales price $1,773,041

Days on market 137

# of properties on market 28

Sausalito

Average sales price $1,119,847

Days on market 102

# of properties on market 118

Mill Valley

Average sales price $1,224,129

Days on market 86

# of properties on market 167

Novato

Average sales price $551,319

Days on market 102

# of properties on market 254

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