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Independence Day Road Trip: The Marin Coast

Does anything epitomize the American independent spirit like a road trip? We think not. Plus, if you feel like getting out of town on Fourth of July but don’t yet have plans, it’s not likely you’ll get a hotel room at this point. So hop in the car, head over the Golden Gate and follow all or part of our Marin coast itinerary: from funky hippie parade to gourmet picnic to an expensive, but luxuriously relaxing, view of the SF fireworks.

• If you’ve never been to the hippie enclave of Bolinas, Fourth of July is the best time to go. The townsfolk don’t publicize their bacchanalian parade—heck, they’ve even been known to take down the sole road sign pointing the way from Highway 1. But why let that stop you? Head north on Highway 1 past Stinson Beach and make a left on Olema-Bolinas Road (about 4.5 miles north of Stinson). While the entire town is watching the annual Stinson Beach–Bolinas tug of war across Bolinas Lagoon, you’ll be ensconced at Coast Café breakfasting on pancakes, a chicken-apple-sausage scramble or freshly baked bread and pastries. By the time you’re done, the parade will be starting (at 11 a.m.), and you wouldn’t want to miss the Latin drumming, the floats bearing radical political messages or the half-naked women dressed like Vegas strippers. Would you?

• By the time you leave Bolinas and resume your drive north on Highway 1, you’ll be ready for a snack and a little R&R. Stop in Pt. Reyes Station at Tomales Bay Foods and pick up some Cowgirl Creamery cheese, olives, fig spread, salami—you know, the works—and pair it with a bottle of Pinot from Pey-Marin. Again, you’ll be missing the crowds, because everyone will be descending on Hog Island Oyster Company a few miles up the road in Marshall. You, on the other hand, are going to head south again on Highway 1, making a right on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, then a left at the sign for Drakes Beach. This leads you into Point Reyes National Seashore and the perfect oceanfront picnic locale.

• After your picnic, a nap and some beach time, you’re headed south to Tiburon. If you don’t want to take Highway 1 all the way down, simply turn left at the town of Olema onto Sir Francis Drake, which will take you back to 101. The Angel Island–Tiburon Ferry “Tamalpais” begins boarding at 7:30 p.m. and departs at 8, headed out to the Bay to view the Pier 39 fireworks. On board is an appetizer buffet and a full bar, and though tickets are $80, there are still a few left, and they'll buy you the best view imaginable.