When we booked a last-minute weekend trip to the Bay Area recently, we had only two must-dos on our list besides seeing our family. One of them was visiting Muir Woods National Monument. We’ve been fans of redwood trees for a long time as nature lovers, so we couldn’t wait to see them in person.
Muir Woods recently enacted a new parking and shuttle service, which means you must make a parking or shuttle reservation BEFORE your visit. I am glad my great aunt told me about this new rule, because I was able to log on the website and book a spot for the earliest slot available, 8 a.m. You must arrive during your 30-minute arrival window but you can stay in the park as long as you’d like until the park closes at sunset. The drive from where we were staying in the Union City area was about 45 minutes. Tip: Print or screenshot directions to the park and your reservation ahead of time because service is limited in the area.
The lot attendants will scan the barcode on your reservation (which you can show on your phone) and then you are free to park and enter Muir Woods. You can add an alternate name to your reservation. Admission to the national park was $10 per adult in addition to the $8 parking fee. Tip: Arrive early to explore the woods with few people around. It gets more crowded as the day goes on and the lots fill up.
We took the Hillside Trail loop around the park and it was easy enough for pregnant person and 3-year-old to do. Take your time and admire the views of the majestic trees. Note: This is a quiet trail. If your toddler can’t be quiet for long enough, it may not be the best idea, although we encountered plenty of adults who couldn’t abide by this rule, while V could.
In the middle of the loop we branched off to check out the beginning of the trail into the adjacent Mount Tamalpais State Park. We ventured too far into the state park because we were starting to work up an appetite, but it’s worth a side trip while at Muir Woods. Next we went to the cafe for lunch. The choices were a bit limited (most of the salads were sold out), but I we chose from what was left, ordering an egg salad sandwich, a PB&J and a hot dog. Most (if not all) of the options are organic, grass fed and made with local ingredients, though. We also made a pit stop in the gift shop to continue our tradition of picking up an ornament on our travels.
You can easily spend an entire day here, but we decided to also check out nearby Muir Beach. It’s only 3 miles down the same road as the park. We were told we’d have to circle around looking for parking, but we lucked out and found a spot immediately. It was super full and a line was forming by the time we left, though, so arrive early! V enjoyed playing at the edge of the water. A man nearby was blowing bubbles for the kiddos, and she also really liked that. It was a nice little day trip.
Have you visited Muir Woods National Monument or Muir Beach?
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