The San Francisco Bay Area encompasses a bonanza of natural vistas and wildlife. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County and visit wizened ancient redwoods body-blocking the sun, and herds of elegant tule elk prancing along the bluffs of Tomales Bay. Gray whales show some fluke off the cape of the wind-scoured Point Reyes peninsula, while hawks surf the skies in the shaggy hills of the Marin Headlands.
On the cutting edge of intellectual thought, Stanford University – near the tech powerhouse of Silicon Valley and the University of California, Berkeley – draws academics and students from around the world. The city of Berkeley sparked the state's locavore food movement and continues to be at the forefront of environmental and left-leaning political causes. South of San Francisco, Hwy 1 traces miles of undeveloped coastline and sandy pocket beaches as it slowly winds south to Santa Cruz.