Monday, January 16, 2012


Bolinas is a quaint little town that is somewhat hard to find. On purpose. The town’s residents regularly take down the the highway direction signs to keep it hidden.They want to keep the tourist crowds away, so you have to do a little research on how to get here. 
Bolinas originated as a Mexican land grant that included Stinson Beach, the surfing mecca on the other side of the Bolinas lagoon.
Now it’s a laid back surfer-hippie kind of town off of Highway 1 in Marin County. The drive up from SF is a bit of a windy road, but does offer some great views of the coast. This spirited community of surfers, poets, artists, writers and aging mavericks is still quite a place to see.
A historic Bolinas landmark is Smiley’s Schooner Saloon and Hotel. The 150 year old place has a past as notorious and entertaining as the town itself. The California Historical Society lists Smiley’s as one of only fourteen bars in the state that has been in continuous use for over 100 years. The saloon is believed to have been built in 1851 by  Captain Isaac Morgan. Bolinas was called Jugville then.
Smiley’s Saloon dealt with prohibition in an interesting way. It didn’t close. The windows were painted black but one window remained clear where people could see a barber chair and other barbershop implements. Customers would enter the barbershop then go through a second secret door into a busy bar. Business was good. Old timers remember the rum runners roaring in and out of town in their fancy automobiles. Legend has it that Al Capone spent a summer in Bolinas.

Now an unincorporated village (population about 2,500) without a mayor or a city hall, Bolinas has a long history of not only tolerance but also environmentalism. The Bolinas people waged a successful campaign to control town development. Richard Brautigan and the Jefferson Airplane have lived here and the town still maintains a live and let live attitude.

If you can find your way here, it's definitely it's worth the trip!

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