As you drive north across the Golden Gate bridge, leaving San Francisco on Highway 101, you will see the rugged Marin Headlands stretching into the pacific. At the west-most point sits the Point Bonita Lighthouse, built in 1855 to help ships filled with gold seekers safely navigate their way into San Francisco Bay. Last weekend, when we experienced unusually hot weather here by the bay, we knew it would be the perfect time to head into the headlands. And for once, our timing was perfect for catching the Point Bonita Lighthouse during its limited visiting hours.
As with so many trips one might take, the magic of the Point Bonita lighthouse is in the journey to get there, rather than the destination itself. I will say up front the lighthouse is somewhat underwhelming and you should probably give the kids advance notice that they will not be allowed to climb up into the lookout and lens area. However, the drive up Bunker Road is breathtaking with some of the most spectacular views of San Francisco and the Bay Area that you can reach by car. And the half-mile walk from the parking area out to the lighthouse, with its steep and winding path edged by wildflowers and overlooking occasional sea lions and kayakers, offers views even better than that. If that doesn’t make you weak in the knees, just wait until you get your turn to cross the suspension bridge where only 2 people are allowed to cross at a time (or one adult with two small children, in our case).
The Point Bonita Lighthouse (and the second half of its trail to get there) is only open to visitors Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It may also be closed in inclement weather and during times of high wind. There is no entrance or parking fee to visit the lighthouse. While you’re in the area, check out the historic bunker remnants (very popular with kids) or some of the great beaches and hiking trails that are also part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. All it will cost you is the gas to get there — and of course, a few snacks.
I’ll have more tips for cheap and free Bay Area outings coming soon. In the mean time, don’t miss my latest moms in the “Moms Around the World” series I’ve been working on for my column at Examiner.com: Toronto, Canada and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (loving the paraglider video). I’ve been up to my elbows in great photos and tips from the new moms I’ve been meeting in some of the most interesting places around the globe while working on this project and I can’t wait to share more.
Happy Memorial Day weekend to all. Guess this means I’d better start packing! If you’re still looking for ideas of where to go and what to do this weekend, head over to Delicious Baby to see the latest Photo Friday fun.