3 Stellar Sunset Picnic Spots Around the Bay Area
Sunset over UC Berkeley and San Francisco Bay, viewed from the Berkeley Hills. (Photo by Dinakar Tumu on Unsplash)

3 Stellar Sunset Picnic Spots Around the Bay Area


Longer summer days mean you can head out after work and still catch the best of the evening rays.

Get the big picture on life in the Bay Area when you take in a sunset with sweeping views from three epic points in Marin County, the Berkeley Hills, and San Francisco. We've even included stops to provision your alfresco dinner on the way.

Cardiac Hill, Marin County

A view from Cardiac Hill.

(Courtesy of @snakebirdcrab)

Cardiac Hill is a well-known milestone of the Dipsea Race, a Bay Area tradition born on a rainy November day in 1905 when distance runners excited about the recent inaugural Olympic Games gathered to run from Mill Valley to the Pacific Ocean. No one knows the exact origin of the name Dipsea, but those running the race know that Cardiac Hill, at an elevation of 1,360 feet, is a slog from either Stinson Beach or Muir Woods. But once there, the intrepid are treated to an expansive view of the ocean and Bay Area. Catch it on a fog-free day to see the Farallon Islands 25 miles out to sea.

To get to Cardiac Hill, drive from the 2am Club up Montford Avenue. Take a right to park ($6) at Pantoll Campground and Ranger Station. From here, it's a mostly flat half-mile hike along Deer Park Fire Road, which crosses the parking lot, or traverse instead through the redwoods on the parallel Old Mine Trail. You'll arrive at a grassy knoll speckled with large, flat rocks perfect for your picnic.

But first, stop for Puerto Rican eats—think veggie or bistec sandwiches and ponche (a mix of mango iced tea and limeade)—at Sol Food(401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley). Or, choose from a generous selection of cheeses and cured meats, wine, and beer at the Mill Valley Market(12 Corte Madera Ave.).

East Bay Hills

The Berkeley Hills.

(Courtesy of @fidune_plw)

Head to the top of the Berkeley Hills—either to the north side via Centennial Drive behind Cal's Memorial Stadium or along Marin Avenue to Grizzly Peak Boulevard to the south—cruising until you find the perfect turnout. There's no official park or a picnic table, so spread out your blanket along a log or rock and settle in for a sunset view of the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate, and the twinkling lights of Berkeley. No hike required.

While gazing toward the Golden Gate, you may be able to pick out two well-known landmarks: the Berkeley Pier and UC Berkeley's Campanile bell tower. Reportedly inspired by Campanile di San Marco in Venice, the bell tower was completed in 1915 as a campus centerpiece and, more recently, is home to a family of peregrine falcons whose nests you can view via webcam.

Stop off in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto to pick up a hot pizza (till 8pm) from the 52-year-old, worker-owned Cheese Board Collective(1512 Shattuck Ave.).

Baker Beach, San Francisco

(Courtesy of @mrln.wndrlust)

Hidden between Sea Cliff and the Presidio in San Francisco, Baker Beach serves up one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Follow in the footsteps of the original Burners, who held the first Burning Man here back in the 1980s, to the northernmost end of the beach where clothing is optional, dogs are welcome, and you feel a world away from the city. You can access Baker Beach from the north by Lincoln Boulevard or from the south by 25th Avenue.

Tucked in the cypress grove and out of the wind, you'll find picnic tables. On weekends and sunny days, the parking lot will fill up quickly but you may be able to park on Bowley Street for a short walk to the beach. Be sure to bring extra layers.

Nearby AK Meats(2346 Clement St) is a hidden gem of a deli. Friendly staff will lovingly prepare your hot pastrami sandwich on sourdough, big enough for two. Don't forget the sides, including tabbouleh and potato salad.

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