Access & Resources
Doubles start at $201 a night, including breakfast and taxes. 415-383-6000 www.pelicaninn.com
AFTER A BREAKFAST of grilled tomatoes and eggs-over-medium, my girlfriend and I narrowed our hiking options down to two. She, a tireless trekker, proposed a hike east through the coastal chaparral of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I, knackered from a bike ride the day before, suggested a shorter stroll west to the Pacific.
It was our second day at the Pelican Inn, a three-story Tudor lodge scarcely 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge in California's Muir Beach. The inn, which sits secretively in a valley surrounded by verdant hills, was built in 1978 by Englishman Charles Felix to resemble a British country inn. With its whitewashed walls, angular roof, leaded-glass windows, and "snuggery," a traditional English den, the inn would pass without a blink in Devon. Guests stay in one of seven up-stairs rooms, each with canopy beds and wingback chairs. Downstairs you'll find a tavern dispensing 20-ounce imperial pints of locally brewed Lagunitas Ale, and a candlelit restaurant serving British "fayre" like cottage pie and bangers.
Best to purge that arterial sludge on the roughly 82,000 acres of public land right out the door. Hikers can tackle the Redwood Creek Trail to Muir Woods National Monument. Mountain bikers can spin along the doubletrack Coastal Trail, with open vistas of the Pacific. Or, keep it simple and walk five minutes west to the beach, a quarter-mile-long break in the notoriously rugged coast.
Narrowing our choices to two was as far as we got. We finally agreed to split up for the day. That night we'd grab a flashlight, walk to the beach, and spend the evening kicking star-spangled foam off the edge of a continent.