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Three Reasons to Cross the Golden Gate Bridge

sandcastle competition

"Moon over Marin," one of last year's entries in the Sand Sculpture Contest. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

The Bay Bridge will be closed all weekend, so all the more reason to head north to the beautiful land of rolling hills and sunny, warm weather!

One of the oldest open-air art events in the country, the Sausalito Art Festival takes over the shoreline of our northern neighbor for the entirety of Labor Day weekend. Hundreds of artists will be exhibiting their work (see the full list here)  and festival-goers can buy one-of-a-kind paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, and jewelry. Browse photography exhibits, bid on the silent auction, and wash down all that gourmet food with bubbly, local wines and beers, margaritas…whatever poison you choose, there will be plenty of it. The entertainment lineup is impressive with Dave Mason, English Beat, Lisa Marie Presley, Psychdelic Furs, Super Diamond and more all performing on the main stage. General admission tickets are $25.00, seniors are $15, and kids get in for $5. Buy tickets here or onsite at the festival. Sat. 8/31 & Sun. 9/1, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.,  Mon. 9/2, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. The Blue & Gold Fleet is offering a combined ferry/festival ticket package from SF.

Drakes Beach will play host to the 32nd Annual Sand Sculpture Contest. The classic Northern California swath of sand backed by white sandstone cliffs in the Point Reyes National Seashore is worth visiting solely for its raw beauty, but anybody can try their hand at building a sandcastle. Facilities are limited, so bring in a picnic (stop at Bovine Bakery or Toby's Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station or the barebones general store in Inverness). Prizes will be awarded in multiple age and group categories (kids included); leave the dog at home. The lovely drive will take you about an hour and a half from the Golden Gate Bridge. Sunday 9/19 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Free for participants and spectators.

Y'all should be aware that the German Tourist Club is only open to the public one full weekend in September - Labor Day weekend! If you still have not been to this oasis of beer-drinking in the woods, lace up those hiking boots and break a small sweat so you can reward yourself with a stein of pilsner among the trees of Mt. Tam. Two easy, less-than-a-mile hikes will bring you to its deck (the Redwood Trail or the Sun Trail), but we suggest making an afternoon of it. Grab a trail map, park near the Mountain Home Inn (get there early for a spot), and hike a loop. The Bootjack trail, Ocean View trail, and others all skirt Muir Woods and progress upward to connect with the trails that bring you to beer. Open Sat. 8/31 & Sun. 9/1, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. 30 Ridge Ave, Mill Valley.