The Marin Headlands are intoxicating and sobering. The hills north of San Francisco are peppered with relics of America's wars, so in ... more »the same afternoon you might see wonderful examples of waves crashing amid grim reminders of nations clashing.
The Headlands are a section of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, managed by the U.S. Park Service. Because the San Francisco Bay is essential to West Cost commerce, the narrow entrance to the bay spanned by the Golden Gate bridge has been, historically, armed to the teeth.
Things reached a lethal peak During the Cold War era, when nuclear-tipped Nike anti-aircraft missiles were installed at the Headlands. These and a host of decaying gun emplacements are out of commission, but history buffs can tour them all.
There's far more for nature buffs, though: breakers on the beaches, eye-popping vistas from the cliffs, explosions of wildflowers in spring, seasonal migrations of raptors and other avians, miles of trails for hikers, and twisting, challenging hills for road cyclists.
Finally, it's a shutterbug's delight: jagged coastline and pervasive fog create unforgettable images that practically take themselves -- just about any camera can yield picture-postcard results. less «