Muir Woods National Monument

#13 in Best Things To Do in San Francisco
Muir Woods National Monument picture
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Key Info

1 Muir Woods Trail

Details

Beaches, Hiking, Parks and Gardens Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

What better exemplifies California's dramatic landscape than sky-high redwood trees? That's what you'll find at Muir Woods, the beautiful and expansive national monument just 16 miles north of San Francisco. This attraction is a must-see for anyone looking to get up close and personal with some of California's most famous topography, not to mention a nice break from the bustle of the big city. The largest redwood tree in Muir Woods measures about 258 feet tall. To give you a better visual, imagine 45 six-foot-tall individuals stacked on top of each other. And if that wasn't enough to impress, the average age of redwoods in Muir Woods is 600 to 800 years, and that's not even some of the oldest in the park at the moment.

There are 6 miles of trails visitors are able to explore at Muir Woods. The hikes at the national monument are generally short (between 30 minutes and an hour-and-a-half). Those looking for a trek should venture to the nearby Mount Tamalpais State Park. In addition to giant redwood groves, travelers also have the option of exploring on-site beaches, including Rodeo Beach, Muir Beach or the larger Stinson Beach, which is closer to Mount Tamalpais State Park.

Travelers consistently report being in awe of Muir Woods National Monument, often calling it beautiful and serene. And for such a popular attraction, visitors were impressed with how well-kept the grounds and trails are. Though some attribute the excellent maintenance partly due to the lack of crowds. The reason for this, according to some, is the lack of adequate parking. Past visitors have said that lots fill up fast and some had to park on the roads to get in. To avoid this, arrive early or schedule alternative transportation (such as a bus tour).

If you don't have a car, you can take the bus to Muir Woods. The Route 66 Muir Woods Shuttle bus can take you there, however, it doesn't leave from San Francisco. The closest shuttle stop from San Francisco is from Sausalito, which can be reached from San Francisco via ferry from either Fisherman's Wharf or the Ferry Building. Admission to Muir Woods costs $15 for adults and is free for those younger than 16. Muir Woods welcomes visitors every day at 8 a.m. Closing times vary by season. For more information, consult the National Park Service website.

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Golden Gate Bridge
California Academy of Sciences
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#1 Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge's vaulting, orange arches amidst the rocky seascape of the San Francisco Bay have made it one of the West Coast's most enduring symbols and the city's most popular tourist attraction. The bridge's name, "Golden Gate," actually refers to the body of water it spans (the Golden Gate Strait that connects the Pacific Ocean with the San Francisco Bay), and was built to make travel between San Francisco and Marin County an easier feat. 

There are plenty of great spots to capture a snap of the majestic bridge. But if you want a truly postcard-worthy shot, head to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, situated high on a hill overlooking San Francisco. If you have extra time, make sure to explore the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The actual span of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses multiple places in San Mateo (south of San Francisco), San Francisco and Marin Counties (Alcatraz and Muir Woods included), but notable parts of this recreation area can be found just a stroll away from the Golden Gate. From the bridge, travelers will find some scenic, bayside trails, some of which lead to secluded beaches, including Kirby Cove and Black Sands Beach. If you really want a trek, journey to the Point Bonita Lighthouse for sweeping views of the bay, found at the very tip of the Golden Gate Strait.

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