Muir Woods is a testament to the power and beauty of nature. The National Monument is only a short drive north of San Francisco, but it feels like it's worlds away. Giant 800 year-old redwoods tower 250 feet overhead, while a babbling creek and the occasional bird add the soundtrack to an otherwise still forest.
One of the most striking things about Muir Woods is how quiet it can really be. A special area called Cathedral Grove encourages visitors to not talk, and just listen to the forest around them. There are relatively few birds and insects here, and an almost perpetual layer of fog drapes the forest in mystery.
Muir Beach is nearby, and accessible via a short drive or a long hike. It's not a particularly large beach, and the Pacific Ocean is unbearably cold this far north. Nevertheless, it's a fun place to visit to feel the sand between your toes during the warmer months.