10 Ways to get from San Francisco to Muir Woods

Posted on September 14, 2017 |

By Leila N’Amara

There are multiple ways to get from San Francisco to Muir Woods – with or without a car. We go through the best and worst ways to get to these famous redwoods near San Francisco.

Even though Muir Woods National Monument isn’t IN San Francisco, it’s a quintessential part of visiting San Francisco.

Some of the Coastal Redwoods at Muir Woods are over 2,000 years old and nearly 300 feet/92 meters!

But there’s a catch.

The Muir Woods location is in a quiet valley nestled into Mount Tamalpais and sees thousands of visitors every day — but there are only a few hundred parking spots.

Getting from San Francisco to Muir Woods can be tricky, but it’s still possible to do a Muir Woods day trip at anytime of the year.

Here are the 10 ways of getting to Muir Woods by bike, bus, or ferry – from the worst to the best!

How far is Muir Woods from San Francisco?

First off – let’s start with the distance from San Francisco to Muir Woods so you know what you’re dealing with.

Muir Woods is about 16 miles (about 26 kilometers) north of the city. If you’re driving with no traffic (not usual), it takes about 40 minutes to get to Muir Woods. For public transit, it can take well over an hour.

Now that you know how far away Muir Woods is, let’s dive into how to get there!

All of the ways to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco

*Note: The Muir Woods entrance fee is $10 for adults, so add that into your Muir Woods cost when planning your trip. 

10. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Mount Tamalpais

While simply driving to Muir Woods might seem like the most direct way of getting to the redwoods, it’s also one of the worst ways of getting to Muir Woods.

Thousands of people visit the towering Coastal Redwoods at Muir Woods every day. The only problem with that is there are only a couple hundred parking spots at the Muir Woods parking lot, tucked away into this mountain.

This means if you aren’t there by 9:30am, you might end up walking up to 30 minutes away from the park entrance!

9. Bike across the Golden Gate and up Mt. Tam

Dstance from san francisco to muir woods - biking the bridge to Muir Woods

Although the distance from San Francisco to Muir Woods is 16 miles, you can bike it if you’re really motivated.

Biking the bridge is one of those things everyone should try at least once in their lifetime!

Biking up Mount Tamalpais from San Francisco to Muir Woods? That’s a totally different story.

While it is *technically* possible to bike to Muir Woods from San Francisco, the road you take will have no bike lane and is filled with cars, SUVs and 30 foot Muir Woods tour buses taking hairpin turns around the mountain.

8. Lyft/Uber to Muir Woods and use a honest-to-goodness payphone to a call a cab after

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#payphone #extinct

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Since there’s no direct public bus to Muir Woods from San Francisco, you might be tempted to turn to a ride share app, but this is one of the least cost-effective way of getting to/from Muir Woods.

You’ll be able to ride-share your way from San Francisco to Muir Woods, but since there’s no cell phone reception you won’t be able to order one for the way back.

Luckily, there’s still a functioning pay phone that you can use to call a cab to take you back to Sausalito or the city.

7. Hire a private car for the afternoon

[Photo by Vapi Photographie via Flickr]

If you want to arrive in style, this is for you. You won’t have to worry about calling a ride if you have a private driver already waiting for you!

Most companies require a minimum of four hours, but they’ll pick up/drop off to your hotel and you can explore at your own pace. Once you’re done, you’ll be picked up and dropped off directly from Muir Woods to San Francisco.

Our friends over at SF Modern Limo are $55/hr for a towncar and $70/hr for a limo (if you REALLY want to travel in style).

6. Stay at the Pelican Inn, only three miles/five kilometers from Muir Woods

Not many people know about this seven room English-inspired bed and breakfast tucked away in the tiny Mt. Tam community of Muir Beach.

Pelican Inn is a stones throw from the Pacific Ocean and is home to a hearty little English pub on the bottom level (perfect for after a looong hike through Muir Woods)!

It will take over an hour to walk to the entrance of Muir Woods, but it is possible, and it’s one of the closest places to stay for accommodation near Muir Woods.

Note: if you’re looking for Muir Woods camping, there are no campsites that are within the national monument. The closest campsites are Alice Eastwood and Pantoll camgrounds in Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Pelican Inn is a good alternative if you don’t want to go camping, or simply want something a bit more luxe that’s still nearby. 

5. Catch a ride to Muir Woods AND get tickets to Alcatraz with our “Alcatraz & Famous Tour”

San Francisco to Muir Woods - Alcatraz, San Francisco, and Muir Woods Tour

One of the best ways to get from San Francisco to Muir Woods? Hopping on a combo tour of SF, Muir Woods, and even Alcatraz.

If you are trying to see the most in two days, the Alatraz & Famous tour is for you.

On the first day, you’ll spend the day at Alcatraz (aka Pier 33), where you’ll catch a ferry to the notorious former penitentiary! The next day, you’ll spend well over an hour exploring both Muir Woods and Sausalito.

Alcatraz tickets can sell out months in advance. Coordinating a city tour and Alcatraz ferry can be a daunting task, so instead just hop on the “Alcatraz & Famous Tour” to make it super easy.

You can book our Alcatraz & Famous tour here.

4. Bike the Golden Gate Bridge & take Marin Transit’s 66F Muir Woods Shuttle from Sausalito Ferry Terminal (SEASONAL: May-October WEEKENDS ONLY)

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Shuttle ride en route to Muir Woods

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We never get tired of biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, so this is always a fun option before visiting Muir Woods!

The only catch is that the Muir Woods bus provided by Marin Transit only runs from May-October on the weekends only.

It’s $5 for a roundtrip ticket for those 16 and older. Kids 15 and younger ride for free. You pay at Muir Woods and show a receipt to board the bus back to the Sausalito Ferry Terminal.

You can leave your bike with a bike valet for $3 per bike before taking the bus to Muir Woods, that way you won’t have to worry about it while you’re hiking!

3. Ferry to Sausalito & take Marin Transit’s 66F Muir Woods Shuttle from Sausalito Ferry Terminal (SEASONAL: May-October WEEKENDS ONLY)

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⛵️ until next time, SF!

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You can catch a ferry to Sausalito from either Pier 41/Fisherman’s Wharf OR the Ferry Building at the end of Market Street for about $12.

It’s a beautiful 20-30 minute ferry ride with absolutely stunning views (depending on Karl the Fog) of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline. Once in Sausalito you can catch the seasonal shuttle bus (May-October) from Sausalito to Muir Woods.

It’s$5 for a roundtrip ticket for those 16 and older. Kids 15 and younger ride for free. You pay at Muir Woods and show a receipt to board the bus back to the Sausalito Ferry Terminal.

2. Bike the Golden Gate Bridge & Shuttle to Muir Woods with Dylan’s Tours 

Have we mentioned how much we love biking the Golden Gate Bridge? We just hate that the shuttle to Muir Woods doesn’t run year round!

Luckily, with our ‘bike the bridge’ tour you can bike the Golden Gate with a Pedego electric bike from Dylan’s Tours — then ditch the bike at a shop in Sausalito before hopping onto a private shuttle to Muir Woods!

The best part? You don’t have to bike back to the city after your hike, our shuttle will bring you back to San Francisco from Muir Woods!

You can book a spot on our bike the bridge tour here.

1. Explore San Francisco and Muir Woods on Dylan’s Tours “Famous Tour”

how to get to muir woods from san francisco - dylan's famous tour

How to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco? Why not make it a combo tour that encompasses most of what you want to see in SF with some quality time in nature.

Okay, so we might be the teensiest bit biased — but our “Famous Tour” is the best way to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco AND see all the must-see sights in San Francisco AND have lunch in Sausalito AND explore Muir Woods for over an hour before getting dropped back off in the city.

If you really want to see it all and make the most of your trip to San Francisco, this is your best option to visit Muir Woods.

Six hours fly by with our local tour guides and you’ll be impressed with how much ground you’ll have covered in a single day!

And as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about following multi-step directions to Muir Woods as you do with many of the other options.

You can book a spot on our Famous tour here.

Note: If you’re flying into San Francisco and want to head directly from SFO to Muir Woods, you can easily take BART (one of our public transit options) into the city from the airport, and get picked up by us once you’re anywhere downtown. 

[Featured photo by Caleb Jones via Unsplash]

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Looking for more Muir Woods inspiration? Don’t forget to check out our related posts below!

Muir Woods FAQ

3 Best Muir Woods Hikes

What to do if the Muir Woods Shuttle is Full

How to Get to Muir Woods without a Car 

8 Things to Know Before Getting to Muir Woods

A Guide to Hiking in San Francisco

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