Just across the Golden Gate Bridge you’ll find the totally gorgeous Marin Headlands and we’ve got the full scoop on what you can do there with the kids. From an awesome kids museum to hikes on secluded beaches and spots where you can go fishing, the Marin Headlands has it all. Plan your day today!

photo: Bay Area Discovery Museum

Visit the Bay Area Discovery Museum

One of the big draws for families in the Marin Headlands is the Bay Area Discovery Museum. This spot is particular good for the under-eight crew and offers tons of hands-on opportunities to explore. Throughout the museum’s 7.5 acres, kids will find seven exhibition spaces and more than six daily drop-in programs as well as fun traveling exhibits like Wobbleland that arrives on Jan. 18.

The museum is closed on Mondays, parking is free and they have an awesome open door policy where no family is turned away for lack of funds. 

Bay Area Discovery Museum
Fort Baker
557 McReynolds Road
Sausalito, CA
Online: bayareadiscoverymuseum.org

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Plan a staycation at the Cavallo Point Lodge

Located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Cavallo Point Lodge is a gorgeous spot to plan your next Bay Area staycation. Once an army post, this national park and lodge offers impeccably-restored historical lodging as well as contemporary lodging options. We recommend booking a two-bedroom suite in one of the historical buildings as it has fireplaces to warm up after a cold day and tons of room to spread out. There are no TVs in the room so the kids will want to spend their time exploring the expansive lawn that's perfect for kite flying.

The lodge offers daily programming including guided hikes, watercolor classes and cooking classes for all ages. Weekend lawn games and yoga classes are also offered. Parents will enjoy some time at the spa where you'll find steam rooms and outdoor jacuzzis. Enjoy the complementary happy hour and then dine on the delicious burgers at the Farley Bar or upscale offerings at Murray Circle, both on property. 

Cavallo Point
The Lodge at the Golden Gate
601 Murray Circle
Fort Baker
Sausalito, CA
Online: cavallopoint.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Hike to Kirby Cove

For a totally gorgeous walk with the smell of eucalyptus in the air, hike down to Kirby Cove Beach. You can park at the trailhead near Ridge Battery where you'll find awesome views of the Golden Gate as well as public restrooms. The hike down to Kirby Cove and back is about two miles and most of it is paved. You'll reach the Kirby Cove Campground at the bottom where you can check out Battery Kirby before you proceed to the beach. Here you'll find some of the best views of the Golden Gate in town and if you're lucky you might even spot some whales off shore. 

More info: nps.gov

photo: Kate Loweth

Explore history at the area's many batteries

The Marin Headlands house an amazingly-rich history, which you can see if you visit any of the area's many batteries. While at Cavallo Point, take the cellphone tour of Fort Baker and then head over to check out Battery Yates and Battery Cavallo. All these spots have informational placards that will give you details about how the area was used in the past. 

More info: nps.gov

Walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge

A quintessential activity for Bay Area residents is walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can do that from the Marin side at the water level by parking at Fort Baker (near the Bay Area Discovery Museum) and walking the steep climb a mile uphill to get to the bridge. Another alternative is to park at the North Tower Golden Gate Parking lot (or nearby along Conzelman Road if the lot is full). Don't miss a walk to the Ridge Battery for some of the best views.

More info: freetoursbyfoot.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Go fishing and kayaking at Horseshoe Cove

Horseshoe Cove at Cavallo Point is a great spot to cast your line or try your luck at crabbing. There's a breakwater where you can set up shop or a pier where the fishermen gather. No fishing permit is required. 

Horseshoe Cove is also a great spot to launch your kayak for a tour of the Golden Gate Bridge from below. Often you can see sea lions and harbor seals romping in the waves just offshore. Sailing lessons and kayak rentals are available at the small harbor. 

More info: nps.gov

Hike to the Point Bonita Lighthouse

A secret jewel of the Bay Area, the Point Bonita Lighthouse, built in 1855, was the third lighthouse built on the West Coast and helped shepherd ships through the treacherous Golden Gate straits. Today, the lighthouse is still active and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Discover Point Bonita's wild landscape, geology and fascinating history by hiking the partially-steep, half-mile trail to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is only open to the public on Sundays and Mondays, 12:30-3:30 p.m. Parking is limited by the lighthouse and you may have to park at the Battery Alexander lot and walk up to find the trail to the lighthouse. Don't miss a stop at Battery Mendell and a walk down to Rodeo Beach, both which can be accessed from this parking lot. 

More info: nps.gov

photo: Marine Mammal Center

Visit the Marine Mammal Center

We love the Marine Mammal Center as a leader in the ocean conservation movement. You can visit this spot in the Marin Headlands (for free!) and learn about what the MMC is doing to rescue sick and injured animals. You can see current patients in pens in the back and head to the classroom to get a talk about these creatures. Guided tours are available (for a fee) Fri.-Mon. Note: the MMC is closed for renovations until Feb. 10. 

2000 Bunker Rd.
Fort Cronkite
Sausalito, CA
Online: marinemammalcenter.org

photo: Kate Loweth

Tour the Nike missile site

During the tense years of the Cold War, from 1953 to 1979, the United States Army built and operated close to 300 Nike missile sites in the United States. These sites were designed as the last line of defense against Soviet bombers. Today, volunteers work in partnership with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area on the continuous task of restoration at site SF-88L, the only fully restored Nike missile site in the country. This museum is an enduring reminder of the Cold War and allows visitors to reflect upon the realities of the Cold War and their influence on today's society.

The Nike missile site is open Saturdays from 12:30-3:30 p.m. with tours at 12:45, 1:30, and 2:15 p.m. It's definitely worth a visit for kids with an interest in history. 

More info: nps.gov

—Kate Loweth

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