Cross the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and you’ll find yourself in Marin County, a rugged swath of Northern California known for its small towns, undeveloped coastline and rural interior landscape. Outdoors enthusiasts can rent mountain bikes and head out to explore the supposed birthplace of the sport or hike through pristine redwood forests. Music lovers can bob their heads to live music in San Rafael, hometown of the Grateful Dead. Foodies can chow down on fresh oysters all along the coast. There’s a little something for everyone.
Known locally as the Bay Area’s park, nearly 85 percent of Marin County is protected from development, much of that space occupied by Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The county’s abundant organic farms supply food to some of the nation’s best restaurants. To sample the goods for yourself, head to the Marin Farmers Market on Sunday, the third largest in California.