Friday, 24 April 2015

Muir Woods in Marin

We decided to take advantage of the National Parks Day last weekend and headed to Muir Woods, beautiful redwood forest in Marin County. On National Parks day, entry to parks is free making it even more attractive :).

When we drove past the Golden Gate Bridge, we saw signs stating that parking at Muir Woods is full, and advising us to use the the shuttle service. So we parked at the Pohone Street Park and Ride ($5/adult roundtrip fare) and took the 66 Shuttle to the Muir Wood entrance, saving us from parking worries later on (people were parked more than a mile away from the park entrance!).

Once we reached we had a quick snack outside and started to walk. It was quite crowded on the main path on either side of the bridges so we chose to walk on the Hillside trail. A little elevated, this trail is less crowded, and offers a inside view of this magnificent forest. Many of the trees here are hundreds of years old, hundreds of feet high - quite an awesome sight of the tallest living things in the world.

We heard lots of birds but didn't spot any, but we did see a banana slug which was the highlight of the day for the 5 y.o. - he has seen plenty of Redwoods now, but not too many banana slugs! 

Some suggestions for families with younger kids: 
  1. Take the shuttle - I believe it only runs on weekends but the parking lot is small, and you might have to walk a fair bit before you even get to the park.
  2. There are plenty of restrooms, but none once you head into the park itself.
  3. There is a small cafe inside the park for empty tummies.
  4. It is always cool under the trees, carry a jacket even if it is hot when you leave home!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Greyhound Rock

We decided to mix a hike and some fun activities for the 5 y.o. this weekend, so we headed out to Greyhound Rock County Park, just south of Pescadero beach. The path down to the beach is very overgrown, and makes for a fun walk. Going down the path, there are small offshoots that offer a spectacular view of the rock.

When we got down it was low tide, so we were actually able to climb on the rock (though we didn't make it all the way to the top - it was very windy and the climb itself is over loose gravel). Near the main rock, there is a smaller rock that is easier to climb and also has caves, making it very interesting to the 5 y.o. :)
There are also tide pools with anemones, and we got to see the blue jellyfish like creatures that have been showing up on California shores. There were hundreds of these washed up Velella - rather a cool creature with a sail of its own!
We walked north for a bit, but the wind kept getting stronger so we eventually sat ourselves down and had a quick lunch. The 5 y.o. played in the sand for a bit (and the adults did not join in, no really, they didn't :P) but we headed back when the tide started to come in - between that and the never ending wind, it started to get a little uncomfortable. You can see how windy it was from the waves.
After the Greyhound Rock visit, we moved on to the (more) fun activity of the day - strawberry picking! Just a little further south, in Davenport, there is a strawberry farm (Swanton Berry Farm) where we pay by the pound. That was fun - the 5 y.o. carefully turned each strawberry around and picked only the ripe ones - I must admit to feeling just a bit proud at seeing the patience with which he searched for and found ripe strawberries. After collecting the berries, we had a quick pit stop at the farm house where we ended up eating strawberry cheesecakes and then were homewards bound.

Some points that families might find useful:

  1. The sole toilet at Greyhound Rock County Park is dirty and smelly, stop somewhere along the way.
  2. Eat lunch at the picnic tables near the parking lot - much more pleasant. The wind on the beach is really quite strong - gives a new meaning to sand-wiches.