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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Marin County, California: A 
Bay Area Beauty

When travelers cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, they find themselves in the lush coastal region of Marin County, California, a nature lovers’ paradise with over 250 hiking trails and two national parks.

“We’re known for outdoor adventure,” said Christine Bohlke, sales and marketing manager at Marin County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Marin County is also celebrated as the birthplace of mountain biking. The movement first took root during the 1970s on Mount Tamalpais, which was favored by bikers for its proximity to metropolitan areas as well as the varied terrain and magnificent views.

With easy access from major cities like San Francisco and Oakland, meeting groups can reap all the benefits of this rich location during their event or conference, enjoying hook-to-table seafood, a thriving music scene and hikes along towering ocean cliffs.

In addition to biking in Mount Tamalpais State Park, attendees can use their downtime to explore the bluffs and beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore, which attracts around 2.5 million visitors every year, or wander around the colossal trunks of redwood trees in Muir Woods National Monument.

Though many people associate California with wine, Marin County is known for a different culinary product — artisan cheese — having once produced nearly 30 percent of the state’s dairy, and groups can follow the California Cheese Trail to several local manufacturers.

This year, Marin County will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, which originally started in Marin, contrary to popular belief that it began in San Francisco. Throughout the summer, the region will host numerous events and festivals in honor of the anniversary, with renditions of songs from the Broadway musical “Hair.”

Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael

As the last building designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright before his death, the Marin County Civic Center serves as both an event center and a National Historic Landmark, characterized by circular themes and a blue roof that seems to blend with the sky. Tours of the stunning facility are available every Wednesday morning, and event planners can use the 22,500-square-foot Exhibit Hall, the 2,001-seat Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, the 348-seat Showcase Theatre or one of the smaller meeting areas that hold between 20 and 150 guests.

Acqua Hotel, Mill Valley

Located at the foot of Mount Tamalpais along the deep blue waters of Richardson Bay, the Acqua Hotel provides a tranquil and scenic event venue with 1,600 feet of meeting space. The hotel’s bayside terrace is a great setting for outdoor banquets and receptions, and the Richardson Room complements meetings and seminars with a sweeping view of the water through wall-length windows. After a meeting, attendees can stretch their legs along the bayside trail and bike paths. The hotel also provides guests a morning breakfast buffet and a complimentary wine-and-cheese reception in the evening.

Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes

Visitors to Marin County would be remiss not to stop by the region’s most popular cheesemaker, Cowgirl Creamery, which is in a renovated hay barn in the seaside town of Point Reyes Station. Founded by two former college friends during the 1990s, the creamery now sells its artisan cheeses in over 500 stores, with favorites like Mt. Tam, named after the nearby Mount Tamalpais, and the spicy Devil’s Gulch. For an unusual after-hours event, groups can schedule a tour and cheese tasting on Fridays, as well as pick up some savory souvenirs from the Cowgirl Cantina gift shop.

Terrapin Crossroads, San Rafael

Founded by Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh, Terrapin Crossroads features farm-to-table American cuisine and weekly live music. In the bar area, visitors can sip one of the unique brews on tap as seasoned musicians take the stage, with an occasional appearance by Lesh himself; the Grate Room provides a larger venue for concerts, trivia nights and special dinners. Groups can reserve a private section in any of four event spaces that accommodate from 20 to 150 guests, or they can buy out the entire restaurant.

Marin County, California

Location: San Francisco Bay area

Access: Oakland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, U.S. Highway 101

Major Meeting Spaces: Embassy Suites by Hilton San Rafael, Four Points by Sheraton San Rafael, Marin Civic Center

Hotel Rooms: 2,500

Off-site Venues: Nick’s Cove and Cottages, Cowgirl Creamery, Farmstead Cheese Company, El Paseo Restaurant, Terrapin Crossroads, Acqua Hotel

Contact Info: 

Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau