John Muir National Historic Site

Top choice in East Bay

Naturalist John Muir's former residence sits in a pastoral patch of farmland in bustling, modern Martinez. Though Muir wrote of sauntering the Sierra Nevada with a sack of tea and bread, it may be a shock for those familiar with the iconic Sierra Club founder’s ascetic weather-beaten appearance that this house (built by his father-in-law) is a model of Victorian Italianate refinement, with a tower cupola, a daintily upholstered parlor and splashes of white lace.

Muir's ‘scribble den’ has been left as it was during his life, with crumbled papers overflowing from wire wastebaskets and dried-bread balls – his preferred snack – resting on the mantelpiece.

Acres of the family's fruit orchards still stand, and visitors can enjoy seasonal samples. The grounds include the 1849 Martinez Adobe, part of the ranch on which the house was built, and oak-speckled hiking trails on nearby Mt Wanda, named for one of Muir's daughters. Check the website for special campfire programs, wildflower walks and full-moon hikes.

The park is just north of Hwy 4. County Connection buses 16 and 98X from nearby Amtrak and BART stations stop here.