Destinations, October 1996
A Mediterranean-style villa high on a hill, Casa del Mar is prime northern California real estate 20 miles north of San Francisco. Set in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, overlooking three-mile-long Stinson Beach, the villa was rebuilt from the ground up by innkeeper Rick Klein in the late 1980s. But its spectacular garden, overflowing with jacarandas, roses, lemon trees, and succulents, dates from the 1930s and was later used as a teaching garden for Berkeley's School of Landscape Architecture.
Right Out the Door: Casa del Mar is just two blocks from the beach, where you can surf (a wetsuit is a must), kayak, walk, or wade. Just 40 yards behind the inn, you'll find the head of the Matt Davis Trail, which leads to a number of Mount Tam's 300 miles of trails. Just two blocks south, the Dipsea Trail winds toward Muir Woods, five miles away.
Farther Afield: A mile north of Casa del Mar on California 1 is Bolinas Lagoon, a prime birding site, especially for spotting blue herons and snowy egrets. Fourteen miles farther is Point Reyes National Seashore, a good place to poke around in a kayak. Call Off the Beach Boats (415-868-9445) in Stinson Beach to rent sit-on-top kayaks for $35 per day. For mountain biking, venture south from the inn a mile to the Lone Tree trailhead, where a steep ascent leads to Marin County's extensive trail system.
Bed and Breakfast: Casa del Mar's rooms are small and simple, but each has a private veranda. Breakfasts, usually prepared by Klein, are reason enough to rise in the morning. Get ready for blueberry-poppyseed coffee cake, huevos rancheros, black bean pancakes, granola, and fruit.
Who's in the Next Room: A fortyish Bay Area couple with matching helmets out the door by 7 a.m. each day on their road bikes.
Reservations: Call 415-868-2124. Rates are $100-$225 per night, and the inn is open year-round.