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Introducing Marin County & the Bay Area

A huge, densely populated metropolitan area surrounds San Francisco, but the Bay Area is not your typical complex of suburbs and bedroom communities. Many of the cities and towns around the bay draw inventive and creative people from around the world. The area is also rich in beautiful undeveloped lands with their own microclimates, making it possible to get out of San Francisco and into the sunny outdoors in a matter of minutes.

The Bay Area’s prime outdoor playgrounds are in Marin County, north of San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. Within an hour’s drive of the city, Marin offers some of Northern California’s superior coastal hiking and biking excursions. Many of the small towns in the county are quaint refuges with highly refined tastes. A strenuous day of outdoor activities can always be rewarded with a fine meal or a night in an exquisite B&B.

The Bay Area’s reputation for political activism comes not so much from San Francisco as from Berkeley, the college town across the bay. California cuisine originated just blocks from the UC Berkeley campus, and travelers head to the East Bay to eat in the fine restaurants.

In many ways, the South Bay is an independent entity. Tech industries set up shop in Silicon Valley towns from San Jose to Palo Alto and launched an economy that often outshines any industry in San Francisco. Stanford University gives the area an intellectual cache, and the Palo Alto community around it enjoys a relaxed prosperity. San Jose, actually greater in area and population than San Francisco, is nevertheless a cultural satellite. But the area puts its own modest spin on things while offering an array of museums and attractions.