Stinson Beach is a census-designated place in Marin County, California, on the west coast of the United States. Stinson Beach is located 2.5 miles (4 km) east-southeast of Bolinas, at an elevation of 26 feet (8 m). The population of the Stinson Beach CDP (census-designated place) was 632 at the 2010 census.
Stinson Beach is about a 35-minute drive from the Golden Gate Bridge on California's Highway 1. It is near important attractions such as Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, and Mount Tamalpais. It has a Long Beach, where the cold water promotes fog throughout the year.
Stinson Beach is a popular Day trip for people in the San Francisco Bay Area and for tourists visiting northern California. Although most visitors arrive by private car, Stinson Beach is linked to Marin City by a daily bus service, and the network of hiking trails around Mount Tamalpais also reaches the town. The beach is one of the cleanest in the state, and sandy, unlike the rockier neighboring beach in Bolinas.
Nathan H. Stinson bought land at the site in 1866.In 1870, the first road was built along the Pacific coast from Sausalito, California, and a tent settlement sprang up amongst the willow trees at the beach, which gave rise to the town's original name, Willow Camp. The Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway opened in 1896, making Willow Camp more accessible. Visitors could ride the train to West Point Inn and then hike or arrange a stagecoach to take them to the beach. In 1906, refugees from the San Francisco earthquake came to the area and built some of the area's first businesses. Stinson Beach became the official town name in 1916, in honor of the largest landowners, Rose and Nathan Stinson.
Stinson Beach is in the Bolinas-Stinson Union School District, the Tamalpais Union High School District, and the Marin Community College District. Students in primary grades (kindergarten - grade 2) attend Stinson Beach School, while elementary grade students (grades 3-8) attend Bolinas School. Stinson Beach is in the attendance area of Tamalpais High School, in Mill Valley.
Stinson Beach is unincorporated, receiving general government services from Marin County, including law enforcement, land use planning, library, public health, and code enforcement. Three special districts provide local services. The Stinson Beach County Water District provides water and septic tank maintenance service and contracts for garbage and recycling collection.The Stinson Beach Fire Protection District provides fire protection, emergency medical care, and disaster management services. The Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District administers programs which aim to mitigate flooding, historically concentrating on issues related to the flooding of Easkoot Creek.
The Stinson Beach Village Association was formed in 1976 to represent the town as the County developed the first Stinson Beach Community Plan. Previously, development of the town had been promoted by the Stinson Beach Progressive Club, one of several non-profit organizations that formed the board of the Stinson Beach Community Center. The other founding organizations were the Allied Arts Club, the Stinson Beach Community Church, The Volunteer Fire Department, and the Parent-Teachers Club. The Community Center complex on Belvedere Avenue includes the Fire House, which fronts on Shoreline Highway, the Community Center, and the Chapel. The land was donated by the FitzHenrys and the other heirs of the Stinson families.
In 2002, a surfer was attacked by a 12-to-15-foot-long (3.7 to 4.6 m) great white shark, while surfing off Stinson Beach. The young man survived, but received more than 100 stitches to close his wounds. The attack was the second in Stinson Beach, and the 13th in Marin County since 1952. In 1998, Jonathan Kathrein was attacked by a great white shark, while paddling into the ocean. His injury from the shark bite required over 600 stitches. The surf off Stinson Beach is within an area known as the Red Triangle, where there have been an unusually high number of shark attacks.Marin County added 12 tsunami warning signs to the Stinson Beach shoreline in 2012 to explain the risk to beachgoers.
On the second Sunday of June, the town serves as the ending point for the annual running of the Dipsea Race, the second-oldest foot race in the U.S. The California Road Club holds its Mount Tamalpais Hill Climb, one of the oldest bicycle races in the West, in early fall. Since 2002, the race has been held on the third Saturday of the month, with about 400 bicyclists competing in the 12.5-mile (20.1 km) road race from Stinson to the head of Bolinas Lagoon and on to the West summit of Mount Tamalpais at Rock Spring. "Cuisine On the Green" is a yearly event held in the town's central park The Village Green, each May. It features local restaurants and merchants selling a wide variety of foods, trinkets, clothing, art and novelty items at different booths. Talent local to the area often performs on the small park stage. Cuisine On the Green benefits the Stinson Beach Community Center.