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Mount Tamalpais: Hike, eat and drink your way into romance

Mountain Home Inn in Marin County boasts stunning views to accompany its fine dining. | Courtesy photo

Welcome to the second installment of It’s a Date, The Standard's new series of date guides to help you navigate your love life with thoughtfully planned and field-tested San Francisco Bay Area itineraries.

There’s no better way to really get to know someone than with the fresh air and stunning views offered in Marin County.

So bring your nature-loving love interest on a date they won’t soon forget: an undersubscribed hike along the famed Muir Woods to a historic inn for a ridgetop lunch, followed by drinks at one of the North Bay’s best dive bars to rest your weary bones.

This daytime date promises crystalline vistas and atmospheric redwoods, all with the coda of romantic fine dining and strong cocktails to reward your efforts.

Cost: $$
Great for: Outdoorsy types and the adventurous
Vibe: Athletic, inspiring and fun
Time: 8-24 hours

Hike Along Muir Woods

By entering Muir Woods via Sun Trail, you get more privacy and avoid the park’s entrance fee. Park or take public transit via the West Marin Stagecoach to the trailhead on Panoramic Highway. You’ll hike less than a mile on mostly level ground to connect up with Redwood Trail, drinking in the sun along with views of Muir Woods and Mount Tamalpais along the way.

Continue onto Redwood Trail that takes you alongside the back of the members-only Nature Friends Tourist Club, where you can spy nature lovers drinking beers and playing games in a wooden chalet. While the club is no longer accessible to the public on weekends, you could take your date night up many notches by planning your hike around one of the club’s yearly fests, which are open to all.

Redwood Trail above Muir Woods promises multiple trickling brooks and rock walls that look like faces. The trail meanders from sun to shade until you connect with Panoramic Trail and your final destination—the Mountain Home Inn.

Mountain Home Inn offers swoon-worthy views. | Courtesy photo

Lunch Above the Clouds

The Mountain Home Inn has been voted “most romantic lunch spot” by the Pacific Sun newspaper and a “date destination” by Marin Magazine.

The swoon-worthiness is real. Views from the inn stretch from sea to forest, with a wooden deck perched above the expansive vista, a setting so spectacular the inn is often used as an (intimate) wedding venue. Tables are set with cloth napkins, and the menu is filled with traditional American fare—but you’re not really here for the food, you’re here for the views and the air along the ridgeline of Mount Tamalpais.

The inn, which has 10 rustic guest rooms in addition to a full-service restaurant, boasts a long and colorful history.

A Swiss-German couple opened the Mountain Home Inn in 1912, after allegedly searching all over Mount Tamalpais for the elusive combination of good weather and great views.

READ MORE: Guide to the Perfect Date in San Francisco’s Presidio Tunnel Tops

The area garnered the nickname “Little Switzerland” because of all the Swiss, German and Austrians who came to build hiking clubs—including the nearby Tourist Club.

Everyone from Jack London to the Grateful Dead has stayed in the charming inn, which merges the exterior with the interior thanks to its large windows, soaring ceilings and expansive use of wood.

After lunch, you can continue hiking into Muir Woods proper via Lost Trail or Canopy View Trail, avoiding the admission charge to enter the national park. You can then make a loop by connecting to Dipsea Trail, which will bring you back onto Sun Trail, where you began. Or, if you want to get on with the next stage of your date, hike back on Redwood and Sun Trail the way you came in.

Down-to-Earth Dive

Come back down to this atmosphere—and temper all that exercise and brightness—with drinks at Mill Valley’s 2 AM Club.

A dive that’s not dirty, “the deuce” is a well-loved bar that is, yes, open until 2 a.m. The watering hole has been around since 1939, its vintage neon sign sticking from its side like a lighthouse for thirsty travelers.

With an expansive drink menu—including 11 beers on tap—everyone can find something they love. A popular locals hangout, the 2 AM Club originally opened as the Brown Jug in 1906 and transitioned into a grain and feed store during Prohibition (allegedly still selling booze out the back).

Other saloons in Mill Valley at that time were required to close at 10 p.m., but the Brown Jug remained open until 2 a.m. since it was outside the city limits. It picked up the nickname the “2 a.m. club,” which new owners made the official name of the business in 1939.

Play some pool and people-watch in this dark dive, or sit outside if you want to continue with the theme of fresh air and bright light.

It’s the perfect end to the perfect day.

Getting There

Public Transit


Sun Trail
📍 Panoramic Highway Trailhead

Mountain Home Inn

📍 810 Panoramic Highway
🗓️ Noon-7:20 p.m. | Wednesdays-Sundays

2 AM Club

📍 380 Miller Ave.
🗓️ 2 p.m.-2 a.m weekdays | noon-2 a.m. weekends