On the way to this small beach community in Marin County, the road twists past verdant hills caressed by drifting fog and affords panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean. In town, urban dwellers stroll barefoot along the white sand shore, breathing in the sea air and winding down - if only for a few precious and fleeting days of summer.
Stephanie Wright Hession
All photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession copyright 2013.
1. Stinson Beach
Shoreline Highway: At this popular spot, beachgoers picnic beneath umbrellas. Signs warn swimmers of dangerous rip currents and the possibility of great white sharks, including in shallow water and along the shoreline. Attacks have occurred here. (415) 868-1922. .
2. Parkside Café
43 Arenal Ave.: The outdoor patio makes for a pleasing lunch spot with its picnic tables and petite garden blooming with salvia, rose and lilies. The best bet is the burger - in Niman Ranch beef or turkey versions - accompanied by mixed greens, tomatoes, rustic mustard aioli and a side of fries. (415) 868-1272.
3. Village Green Park
Arenal Avenue and Calle Del Mar: Just past the wooden and stone archway at this 2-acre neighborhood park, children scamper onto the play structure while people relax on the lawn or a shaded bench. Others walk their leashed pooches, and around the corner, older kids shoot hoops in the basketball court.
4. Stinson Beach Market
101 Calle del Mar: From deli sandwiches and high-quality groceries - including meats, locally caught fish and mostly organic area produce - to beach, barbecue and fishing supplies, there's a lot to choose from at this corner market. (415) 868-1923..
5. Live Water Surf Shop
3448 Shoreline Highway: In 1978, Kirby Ferris opened a surf shop that became a local landmark, especially after he created the no-shark logo that first appeared on bumper stickers. Since sold, the shop rents and sells boards and wetsuits. (415) 868-0333..
Portions of the Shoreline Highway to Stinson Beach are very winding, steep, narrow and used by cyclists. It can also be obscured by dense fog, especially in the early morning and evening.