Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Leave Your Stilettos at Home –

September 4th, 2015
Stinson Beach, northern California

If you happen to be in San Francisco this autumn –  and let’s face it, there are few better places to be in the autumn than my hometown minus the summer fog – then take a day trip to Stinson Beach.

Friends and I visited my sister Diana (second from the left above) last month and got really sandy – in a good way. Leave the Dolce wedges and Missoni kaftan at home. It’s time to be a kid again.

Get soaked in a kayak,


chilled to the bone in the Pacific and winded big-time by all the stairs on the Steep Ravine Trail.


Start by renting a car in SF and zipping across the Golden Gate Bridge, eventually getting to the extremely curvy and dramatic Highway 1 to Stinson Beach. Or opt for the equally  gorgeous, more pastoral Panoramic Highway, which splits off from Highway 1.  Both drives take under an hour and get you here…


When I was growing up my family had a house at Stinson and we went “to the beach”  every weekend. My sister Diana now summers there with her family and, while a bit more crowded today, Stinson and the towns nearby still stun me with their natural beauty.

Chill with the seals….


Hike up Steep Ravine and back down the Dipsea Trail loop. Don’t be deceived by the gentle beginning…


Soon, you’ll be climbing amidst a canyon of redwoods, ferns, endless stairs and bridges…



Kayak across the lagoon to hippie town Bolinas,


where the artsy locals shun tourists so much that they took down the road sign to Bolinas. You miss it even if you don’t blink…


Stop in and smile at Smiley’s, which opened its Bolinas doors in 1851 and prides itself on being “the oldest saloon west of the Mississippi”.


We dined on fresh Drake’s Bay Oysters and grilled Red Snapper at the Coast Cafe,


then we kayaked home with the moon lighting the way.

ps My foodie niece Sarah strongly recommends a drive to the nearby Point Reyes Station Farmer’s Market held every Saturday morning 9-1, July through October. Feast on GBD‘s grilled cheese sandwiches (voted “Best Grilled Cheese on the Planet” by Gourmet magazine), hummus from The Hummus Guy (‘addictive pita chips’, niece warns) and Mount Tam cheese is Sarah’s ‘♯1’ from the Cowgirl Creamery spread onto a baguette from Brickmaiden Breads.

Two seconds later Sarah sent me another text: “Don’t forget Stellina in Point Reyes Station, Saltwater in Inverness and Sir and Star in Olema. Oh, and Beth’s Bakery is opening soon in Bolinas.” If anyone is looking to hire a Bay Area food blogger, Sarah’s your gal.

September, 2015