The hum of a city can creep into your skin. The endless flow of wheels on pavement, of six-second car alarms, of cops hooting and pedestrians blocking your every move. The simple act of parking your car, if you have a car, can turn into the ultimate test (and in my case, fail) of patience.
In Oakland, the city sure creeps. But in San Francisco, that golden dream across a bridge, there is no end to the level of mental and soul-sucking interfusion that can occur. I love these places, I really do, but sometimes you need quiet. You need peace. You need a strong gale of wind stretched into a wide expanse of land or sea and the calm loss of all that hulking metal.
In search of such invigorating peace I reached to the very edge of San Francisco: Land’s End. Yes, it’s a clothing brand, but in S.F. it’s the most northern, far reaching point the city has to offer.
High above the Richmond District (sleepy residential houses awash in pastel hues), above a golf course, above a museum (read below for more on that), sits a little swath of coast that remains relatively untouched. The rugged coastal wild stretches up from Baker Beach and climbs cliffs into the northern tip of the City.
There’s a hiking path, and once there was an often-broken railroad, that leads tourists and nature-lovers up the stunning coast. The Golden Gate Bridge sits in perfect view on a clear day, and the headlands of Marin gleam across the slim entrance to the Bay.
Land’s End proper describes the cliffs that jut against the Pacific, worn by time and sun, wind and rain. The trails take you to the very edges of these cliffs, and, in some cases, down to black sand beaches.
After a solid walk into the dense canopy you realize that the hum is gone. The city sits behind you—you can see it in some cases, towering and bustling with endless energy. But, under the cool shade of hundred year old trees, with the wind blowing your hair and waves crashing heavily against algae ridden rocks, there is no mechanical noise. There is only what nature brings.
Inhale, exhale. And again.
Romantic, To Say The Least
Now, I had experienced the delight of Land’s End once, but I decided to turn this gem into an entire day of romantically infused peace and rest.
We’re big on museums here at Eclectic Perspective, as I’m sure readers know. Next to Land’s End stands The Legion of Honor, one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Legion is paired with the de Young in Golden Gate Park, sister museums if you will, and is modeled after the Louvre (though much, much smaller). It contains a chronological collection of Renaissance Art, starting in the 1400’s and ending with Monet. There are Ancient Greek remnants and a rotating schedule of incredible special exhibitions (Matisee, when we attended last).
We started our day at the Legion, snapped photos, gazed over the noisy city, and then ducked into Land’s End. The not-so-secret secret of Land’s End is a walking labyrinth, assembled in stones, upon a plateau that stands just above the crashing waves. Meditate while you walk, just upon the grey cliffs, with the golden bridge before you, and a peace does come. Promise.
In classic San Francisco spirits, the weather changed during our hike. We were warmed by sunny rays, misted by tropical squalls, and rained upon by the inevitable cloud bank that will (almost) always roll through. Bring hiking shoes and a rain-shell if you do plan to escape here, or at least check the weather.
Now, you might be wondering, what’s the best thing after a wet afternoon hike?
Cup of tea, clearly.
And so we headed to Tal-y-Tara, a strange and wonderful tea shop that specializes in equestrian gear. Yeah, horse stuff. Polo, to be specific. So during our warm up, supplied by a huge pot of cozy covered Jasmine pearls, we browsed riding saddles, felt hats, and costly vests. Oh, and homemade scones.
Thus endeth the Land’s End day of exploration…
The City, wherever it is, whatever it means for you, can overwhelm. We try and find the small gems that provide relief and rest in the madness. Enjoy!
So enjoyed the jaunt with you (as a reader) at a memorable vista.
Having been to many if these places I really appreciated you bringing me back. Best if luck!
Beautifully written and evocative of the San Francisco that most of us only glimpse occasionally. Thank you for reminding us to stop and revisit these places.