San Francisco Bay’s Best-Kept-Secret: West Marin’s Hidden Addresses

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Home to the epitome of ‘California Happy Cows,’ an epicenter of farm to table cuisine.

Do you know that idea that every sixteen year old has, about getting behind the wheel of the car, turning the radio on way to loud, and just driving? Well, like every other sixteen-year-old,  my fantasy was the same, only mine took me north west. I drove past the little town of Olema, through Marshall a town nestled on the shores of Tomales Bay, and finally to Point Reyes where farm country met the sea. West Marin is the hidden burrow of Marin County that is home to the epitome of ‘California Happy Cows,’ an epicenter of farm to table cuisine, and the perfect city dwellers escape that they never knew was right at their fingertips.

SEE ALSO: Santa Cruz’in: Why It’s A Classic San Franciscan’s Getaway

This adventure really begins in Fairfax, the last real town before heading out west. Fairfax holds a special place in my heart as it was my childhood town. Its inhabitants all maintain some sort of alternative nature, even if just some small quality that sets them apart from the rest. Time seems to run a little slower in Fairfax, the rules seem to be slightly bent. On the average day, a serenade by a tie-dye claude man with a guitar would be nothing unusual. A town of muted earth tones, organic everything, and a somewhat hug based economy (in spirit), Fairfax is exactly the place you would expect to find on the edge of farmland and society.

Aside from the rather intriguing nature of Fairfax, there are a number of culinary delights that make it a necessary stop on your road trip west. The Java Hut, a Fairfax classic, will supply you with all of your caffeinated desires without ever having to get out of your car. A convenient drive through located in the parking lot directly across from the post office, has perfect the art of a mocha latte and will never short you in the whipped cream department.

If you are a snacker Good Earth, the Fairfax founded health food megastore is another place worth browsing (the concept was so appealing that in the last few years the store has expanded to a second location in Mill Valley). Just try not to get too carried away, as West Marin itself is home to a number of tasty hidden gems.

Lastly, not to discredit two of my favorite spots in Fairfax, both probably better suited for the drive home. You must try The Scoop, local, organic, non-dairy, dairy, vibrant flavors that I simply cannot describe. Try it. And Beach House, a local’s spin on vintage furniture and clothing. If not entirely eco-friendly and sustainable, the store presents amazingly unique design concepts, for an outstanding price.

Now remember, the drive is a good 50% of this venture. Coffee, snacks, the perfect playlist and shotgun rider are all key contributors. Navigation is fairly simple, there is one road leaving Fairfax that heads into West Marin, stay on it for about 15 miles until you hit Olema and you shouldn’t have any problems. Upon reaching Olema it’s your call whether to venture right or left. To the right, you will find the route to Bolinas and Stinson Beach, both equally norcalesque, perfect for those seeking rugged surf and somewhat rugged beach town vibes. To the left, of course, is the rest of West Marin. You’ll pass by the Olema Campground, deceiving (a bit) in appearance, this classic 1950’s style campground is the source of many fond memories from my childhood. If staying the night in Olema does have some appeal, Sir and Star has a slightly more refined flavor. Absolutely perfect for a cozy getaway, you won’t be disappointed by the food or plush down duvets.

Pushing further west on your drive you’ll find Point Reyes Station. A common stop for cyclists to refuel, it is another quaint town equipped with a number of local artisan shops and restaurants. My favorite, and quite frankly a must try, is Bovine Bakery. Famous for their sticky armando roll, though everything on the menu is phenomenal. Yet if your in the mood for something slightly more savory, Sun Farm’s goat burger will literally blow your mind and taste buds, and Cowgirl Creamy will actually make you want to clog your arteries as your stuff cheese sample after cheese sample in your mouth.

I could decode for you all the wonders of this county, but in many ways I feel this would suck so much magic from the experience. Follow the road and the hand painted wooden signs, to shape your own experience of West Marin. You might encounter Nick’s Cove, Hog Island Oysters, North Beach, Heart’s Desire Beach, or The Marshall Store, just a few of my many favorite escapes. Even better, you might discover your own special place, map out your own route that satisfies all of those teenage desires to just drive and keep on driving.

Photos: Bella Barconi

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Bella Braconi

Digital Marketing Intern, Contributor

Bella's love for traveling started with her mother who was a flight attendant for United Airlines. She loves music, art & is always in search of adventure!

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