My niece Juliana who lives in Virginia came over to spend a few days with us recently. She’s been here few times before so she’d done all the touristy stuff in San Francisco. I like that because it forces us to push ourselves and expand our horizons in terms of visiting different places in the Bay Area. Last year when she came we took a day trip to the Marshall Store, a hole in the wall place in Tomales Bay where they sell delicious fresh oysters served in many different ways. That trip was a complete success, and not something that we’d likely have done without our adventurous visitor.
This time around I chose a visit to Point Bonita and Lighthouse of the same name. They’re just across the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin Headlands. It’s part of the Golden Gate National Parks.
Oddly for us, this was a food-free afternoon: just sightseeing. I had wanted to see the lighthouse for a while. Right after we relocated to San Francisco, we tried a visit but it was closed for renovation. That left us with “only” the gorgeous surroundings to admire: the GG Bridge, the inlet to the Bay, the Pacific, stunning mountains, exotic wildflowers, and so on; but no lighthouse. What a disappointment
The day we went was very foggy. It would restlessly whip along the mountains and occasionally just disappear, leaving a beautiful bright blue sky in a non-stop, off-and-on fashion; hiding the surroundings, then revealing them magically. San Francisco and the Bridge kept appearing and disappearing in this chilly haze.
This time of year it gets very dry so all the flowers and grasses from early spring were shrunken husks with the exception of a few thistle plants, various herbs, hardy trees and some imported coast-hugging succulents. The air was infused with aromas of the sea and plants such as the Monterrey cypress, wild sage and eucalyptus.
We spotted the ubiquitous seagulls, but also frolicking sea lions, a hawk, tons of cormorants and several beautiful pelicans nesting on the scarps of the cliffs. One of the rocks just off the coast, housing for hundreds of cormorants, had accumulated so much guano that it was totally white at its peak. Nice contrast with the black stone and the grayness of the ocean.
The coastal drive from the park entrance near the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge takes you past remains of a ruined fort and a military base. We stopped a few times to check the area out. Pretty cool!
Finally we reached the lighthouse. Point Bonita Lighthouse was built on the top of a lone rock at the entrance of San Francisco Bay, partially connected to the continent. To get there you must walk down a steep hill, over a bridge, through a narrow, low-ceilinged hand-carved tunnel and then over another, suspension bridge. Here’s more info on the lighthouse.
Where do you like to take out-of-town visitors to show them the local sights?