The town of Stinson Beach, California lies just over a half hour’s drive northwest of San Francisco along Highway 1. The oceanfront city boasts a long expanse of clean sand beach, with breathtakingly beautiful natural scenery. Many Stinson Beach vacation rentals offer convenient access to beach fun and an abundance of outdoor activities. Here are the top 10 kid-friendly things to do in and around Stinson Beach.

1. Hit the Beach

Set in a gorgeous location with deep green hills and woods to the east and the awe-inspiring vast Pacific Ocean to the west, Stinson Beach is the perfect place to spend the day swimming in the surf and playing in the sand. You can stroll along the beach and hunt for seashells and other treasures, build an elaborate sandcastle, and take photographs of your family with the incomparable scenery as a backdrop. You and your kids will never forget the amazing, flamboyant sunsets you can watch from Stinson Beach.

2. Play Water Sports

Besides enjoying Frisbee throwing and playing beach volleyball on the shore, Stinson Beach offers a range of water activities. The shallow water makes it easy and safe for kids to enjoy boogie boarding and body surfing. Older children and adults can take surfboards farther out and ply the waves. For additional thrills, try kite surfing or skim-boarding.

3. Go Fishing

Stinson Beach is a great spot for surf fishing. Unlike other stretches of the California Coast, the headlands and reef around Bolinas Bay offer partial protection from rough waters. If the main part of the beach is too crowded, you can hike north to the lagoon mouth where fewer swimmers venture. The most commonly caught fish is surfperch, but you can also sometimes catch halibut, striped bass, and leopard sharks.

4. Observe Wildlife in the Lagoon

Part of the town of Stinson Beach is built out over a sand spit that separates the shallow waters of Bolinas Lagoon from the main body of the Pacific Ocean. The protected lagoon is a haven for many species of shorebirds and other waterfowl, which you can observe from roads and trails along the shoreline. The area is also a nesting ground for great blue herons and great egrets. At low tide, you can see a colony of harbor seals resting and drying out on the mud.

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5. Marvel at the Waterfall

A hike to the stunningly beautiful Alamere Falls is well worth the effort. To reach the falls, you start at Palomarin Trailhead, which is a few miles northwest of Stinson Beach. The trail follows the coast through beautiful woodlands and open spaces with breathtaking views. Alamere Falls plummets over a rocky cliff 40 feet down to an ocean beach. The trail passes the lovely Bass Lake, where you can stop for a refreshing swim if you’re feeling hot and tired.

6. Climb the Mountain

Adjoining Stinson Beach on the southeast is Mount Tamalpais State Park. Numerous trails criss-cross the park and lead to the breathtaking panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding countryside at the summit. The unpaved single-track trails are only for hikers, but you can go mountain biking on the paved roads and fire trails. Picnicking and wildlife observation are also popular activities here. Among the animals, you can spot are deer, foxes, raccoons, and bobcats.

7. Hike Through the Woods

A few miles east of your vacation rental at Stinson Beach is Muir Woods National Monument, a gorgeous preserve of old growth coast redwoods. The visitor center features exhibits that introduce you to local ecology and conservation efforts, while rangers and volunteers sometimes offer interpretive talks and guided tours. Well-marked paved and unpaved trails lead you through the wonders of the towering redwood forest. Numerous species of bats live in cavities within the trees, and you may spot them taking flight at sunset. You can also observe woodpeckers and spotted owls.

8. Visit the Children’s Museum

The fascinating Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito is only a few minutes away from your Stinson Beach vacation rental. This children’s museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits that focus on the interests of various age groups. For instance, Art Studios is an interactive program that allows children to work with paints, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and other mediums. The Fab Lab lets them work with digital technology. Bay Hall is a working simulation of Oakland and San Francisco ports. In the Imagination Playground, kids can construct objects using foam geometric shapes. Lookout Cove is a large outdoor exploration area, and Tot Spot is a smaller outdoor area for younger children.

9. Explore the Preserve

Martin Griffin Preserve is on the east side of Bolinas Lagoon less than a mile from Stinson Beach. It has more than eight miles of hiking trails through lovely stands of fern and redwood trees as well as ponds full of interesting aquatic life. Nature guides are sometimes available to lead your family along the trails and inform you about the history and ecology of the area. Bring a basket and enjoy a picnic at one of the tables in this beautiful outdoor setting.

10. Tour the Lighthouses

Two iconic lighthouses are just a short distance from your Stinson Beach vacation rental. To the north is the Point Reyes Lighthouse, which is perched on a high cliff with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. You can peruse displays at the Lighthouse Visitors Center and the Ocean Exploration Center and watch whales from the observation deck above the lighthouse. To explore the lighthouse, you descend about 300 steps to a rocky outcropping. The Point Bonita Lighthouse lies south of Stinson Beach in the Golden Gate Recreation Area. A half-mile trail leads to the lighthouse, which offers a spectacular view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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