Red Rock Beach
Distance: 407 miles one-way
Natural, soakable hot springs (unofficially, clothing optional) emerge during neap tides. Stay nearby, within walking distance, at the rustic Steep Ravine State Park cabins (a former haunt of photographers such as Dorothea Lange). If you can't score the nearly impossible cabin reservations, consider camping midweek. Bring your tide chart and walk north to Stinson Beach for breakfast or dinner at the Parkside Cafe.
Mt. Tamalpais State Park, 801 Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley; (415) 388-2070, www.parks.ca.gov.
-- Andrew Nystrom