Best for solitude (even on weekends): Point Reyes National Seashore, California
Most visitors to Point Reyes don’t know about Limantour Beach. They zip out along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to crashing North Beach or to Drakes Beach, where there’s a proper visitor
center and cafe. Few think to turn off instead at Limantour Road, which dead-ends in deserted grassy dunes.
All the better for you. Climb up and over, and you’ll see a narrow finger of sand stretching 2 miles north between Drakes Bay and a mighty estuary teeming with birds. Out at the tip, harbor seals loll and bark. On the rare sunny summer day, the water is calm and swimmable.
Don’t miss: A walk with your pooch, welcome on-leash at the section south of the parking lot.
Get there: From the Bear Valley Visitor Center, head north about ¼ mile to Bear Valley Rd., turn left and follow it 1¼ miles to Limantour Rd., then turn left again and go 7½ miles to the parking lot at Limantour Beach; nps.gov/pore or 415/464-5100. –Lisa Trottier