Stinson Beach is an unincorporated community 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 751 at the 2000 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 with occasional opportunities for surfing, although the water is cold and fog is common throughout the year.
Stinson Beach is a popular day trip for people from 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.
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.
As of the census of 2000, there were 751 people, 374 households, and 178 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 712 people per square mile (274/km²). There were 693 housing units at an average density of 657/sq mi (252/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 95.87% White, 0.27% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.67% Asian, 0.93% from other races, and 2.00% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.60% of the population.
There were 374 households out of which 18.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 4.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.4% were non-families. 42.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.98 and the average family size was 2.75.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 16.9% under the age of 18, 3.3% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 39.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.0 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $87,679, and the median income for a family was $105,827. Males had a median income of $58,750 versus $56,875 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $62,452. About 3.8% of families and 5.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under the age of eighteen and 10.4% of those sixty five or over.
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 12-15 foot-long 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 since 1998, and the 13th in Marin County since 1952. 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.
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.
Residents, landowners, and summer people important in the development, life, and culture of Stinson Beach. Arrival or tenure is shown in square brackets. Birth and death dates are shown in parentheses.
Stinson Beach has been the setting and filming location for several movies:
The town was mentioned in an episode of M*A*S*H.
George Frayne (Commander Cody) wrote a song about Stinson Beach entitled "Midnight On The Strand." It was recorded on his 1987 album, Let's Rock.
The town and the beach are the topic of a poem by Garrison Keillor. In We Are Still Married: Stories and Letters, Keillor has a 4-page essay about his visits to Stinson Beach and how thinking of the beach helps him sleep.