Padre Island

Did you know you can drive on the beach in Texas? You can! Well, on Padre Island at least. People just drove right on to the sand, and pulled up to the water. I guess it beats lugging around a bunch of gear!

A ranger talk at Padre Island National Seashore taught us about the Gulf currents and how loads of stuff washes onto the shores there. Not just trash, although there is sadly a ton of it, but also fish bones, and sea beans from the Caribbean and South America. We were very proud to find a hamburger seed and a sea heart bean (it floated all the way from Brazil!). On the way out of the park we passed a controlled burn, which was a little too close to the road in my opinion!

Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Balli beach was about a 10 minute walk from our Airbnb. It was a quiet and relaxing beach, with a fishing pier at one end. A good spot for pretty sunsets. On one of our walks we watched a Coast Guard drill. Another weekend, the beach hosted the Barefoot Mardi Gras Festival, with a parade on the beach! I think this gave us a small glimpse of how crazy spring break can get (but we left town just before the crowds arrived).

Padre Island

Padre Island

Padre Island

Beaches and trees

Were we in Mount Tamalpais State Park or the Golden Gate National Recreation Area? I have no idea! But we found an excellent route for an afternoon of scenic driving and pretty walks along the Pacific.

From 101, we took the curvy Shoreline Highway (Rt 1) towards the coast. First stop: picnic at Muir Beach Overlook.

Muir Beach Overlook

Muir Beach Overlook

Muir Beach Overlook

We then continued on Shoreline Highway up to Stinson Beach. This part of the road hugs the coastline and there are some overlooks for checking out the view below. Stinson Beach was really long compared to other beaches around here, so we took a nice walk along the chilly sand. It was a breezy 70 degrees! FYI, the Parkside Snack Bar has excellent soft serve.

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach

Next up, the Panoramic Highway, another twisty turny road. This road and the Shoreline Highway felt like car commercial roads. In fact, we saw a small film crew! They were filming a vintage station wagon driving around. Maybe we will be in the background! Anyways, the Panoramic Highway took us to Muir Woods National Monument. We visited the woods several years ago and were both happy to visit again. Plus, I got stamps for my National Parks Passport!

Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument

It’s hard to capture in a photo, but these trees are giants! I know we’re just talking about trees, but they really are amazing. Dare I say, majestic!

Muir Woods

Muir Woods National Monument

Kenan found the entrance to the Upside Down!

Muir Woods National Monument

At some of the parks in this area we found these neat models of the landscape. Doesn’t it remind you of the Game of Thrones opening credits?

Muir Beach

Muir Woods

Muir Woods Road took us back down to the coast for sunset at Muir Beach. This place gave me a “whoa, we are definitely in California” vibe. There were people playing frisbee, dogs running wild, a bunch of groups huddled around bonfires…and a guy playing bongo drums!

Muir Beach

Muir Beach

Muir Beach