The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku: forest bathing. It's the polar opposite of a power walk—a slow, deliberate immersion in nature.
Anyone in need of such joy-inducing rambles should beeline to Marin County, CA. Home to poppy-dotted hillsides, tranquil woodlands, and wave-swept coves, Marin is a true walker's paradise, with some of the world's most superlative scenery.
Three destinations in particular stand out: Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais, and Point Reyes. Each showcases Marin's varied splendor and is also just a short drive from restaurants that work wonders with the region's produce, seafood, cheeses, and wines. So slow down, stroll, sample, and sip—and surround yourself with natural marvels.
Point Reyes National Seashore
One of Marin's unexpected wild places is this triangular peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean. Comprising more than 100 square miles of windswept bluffs, dark forests, and dramatic sea stacks pummeled by surf, Point Reyes may be a protected treasure, but it has never been tamed.
On the shore's northwestern edge, the two-plus-mile roundtrip Abbotts Lagoon Trail offers a slice of untrammeled beauty, skirting shimmering lagoons. Smaller surprises await hikers in the trailside scrub: the sudden flush of a quail brood, the twitch of a wide-eyed jackrabbit, the springtime unfurling of delicate pink checkerblooms and golden buttercups.
At the channel connecting the lagoons, cross a wooden bridge for the chance to spot diving ospreys or watch the clownish antics of river otters. From here, hikers can thread their way another half mile through dunes and driftwood to reach the crashing waves of the aptly named Great Beach.
Eat Here: When you've been tasting salt on the air all day, nothing feels more fitting than seafood at rustic-chic Saltwater Oyster Depot, which overlooks Tomales Bay in the compact town of Inverness. Raw and baked bivalves—many sustainably farmed in the bay's cool waters—headline the menu, some zinged with red curry and ginger or topped with pesto and Parmesan. Other local delicacies share the spotlight, including semolina-crusted rockfish caught just down the coast in Bolinas and pineapple glazed barbecued pork ribs from Devil's Gulch Ranch in nearby Nicasio. Order a glass of Northern California wine and raise a toast to Marin's plenty.