There aren’t many communities west of the infamous San Andreas Fault north of San Francisco, but the town of Bolinas, California, is one of them. It’s actually located on a completely different tectonic plate from the rest of the state; even the vegetation is different across the dividing line. This peninsula is one of the area’s best-kept secrets—and people here want to keep it that way.
Residents here have been known to rip down the road signs off nearby Highway 1 to ensure that tourists will whiz right past the town. Ironically, the hush-hush community is now famous…for being hard to find. Those who succeed in locating the turnoff are rewarded with a stunningly scenic drive—past organic farm stands, shimmering Bolinas Lagoon, and aromatic eucalyptus groves—into the village.
The only fear here (and the reason the road signs keep going missing) is that outsiders will invade this bastion of happily relaxed living. If you can get past the fact you’ve chosen a place so beautiful that tourists search for it like it’s the Holy Grail, then you’ll do just fine. But the only way to know for sure is to visit.
Bolinas Beach has moderate waves and ample shoreline often packed with surfers on the weekend.
For a more low-key locale, Agate Beach offers quiet tide pools teeming with marine life.
With Point Reyes National Seashore around the corner, Bolinas is an outdoors lover’s dream. A short drive to Stinson Beach gets you to softer sand for sunbathing and a pet-friendly park. Foodies revel in the nearby organic farms and fisheries. Wharf Road and Brighton Avenue are funky little streets where you’ll find old bookstores, Bolinas Museum, and a seafood shack.
Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
Located in nearby Olema (about 20 minutes by car), the Lodge has 22 cozy rooms—some with patios—and two cottages on three lush, green acres, making it a central location for exploring Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay. Rates start at $135; pointreyesseashore.com.