If there’s a part of the Bay Area that consciously attempts to live up to the California dream, it’s Marin County. Just a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, the region is populated by wealthy people who cultivate a seemingly laid-back lifestyle. Sprawling homes cluster along densely forested roads. Towns may look like idyllic rural hamlets but the shops cater to cosmopolitan and expensive tastes. Escapees from Beverly Hills have colonized some of the towns. The ‘common’ folk here eat organic, vote Democrat and drive sports utility vehicles (SUVs).
Geographically, Marin County is a near mirror image of San Francisco. It’s a south-pointing peninsula (that nearly touches the north-pointing tip of the city), and it’s surrounded to the west and east by ocean and bay. But Marin is wilder, greener and more mountainous. Redwoods grow on the coast side of the hills, the surf crashes against cliffs, and hiking and biking trails crisscross the blessed scenery of Point Reyes, Muir Woods and Mt Tamalpais. Nature is what makes Marin County such an excellent day trip from San Francisco. Of course, after you’ve exerted yourself on the trails, it doesn’t hurt that the area is rife with excellent restaurants and homey B&Bs.