The Marin Headlands is essentially the whole Southern end of the Marin Peninsula bounded by Sausalito and Mill Valley to the north. It was once controlled by the US military, and so it is sprinkled with abandoned forts, military housing, and battery installations looking out over the Pacific, the mouth of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Now it’s part of the National Parks Service’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Because there are so many different parts of the Marin Headlands, and you can literally spend many days hiking, bike riding, exploring or relaxing in the various areas.
A great place to start your visit is the Marin Headlands Visitors Center. It’s at the intersection of Bunker and Field Roads near Rodeo Lagoon in the old Fort Barry Chapel. It’s just down the hill from the hostel, which is the perfect location for visitors staying at the Headlands.
It’s got wonderfully engaging exhibits of all of the important aspects of the Headlands, including the native peoples, early European immigrants, and fauna and flora. These really informative exhibits appeal not just to adults, but clearly also to kids with their scale and interactivity.
The room is open, airy, and filled with natural light; it’s always staffed with a couple of park rangers; and they even serve complimentary coffee and tea in a relaxing area at the back (the old alter area!).
It’s got a great wall-mounted map of the Marin Headlands, with all of the natural features, historic landmarks, roads and trails, special facilities, and points of interest clearly marked. And, of course, there are free brochures to take with you when you leave.
Where: At the intersection of Bunker & Field Roads (map)
Hours: Daily from 9;30 – 4:30 (Closed Christmas & Thanksgiving Days)