Best Cheap Overnight Getaway - 2004
West Point Inn
1000 Panoramic Highway
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Mount Tamalpais is glorious this time of year: The slopes are blanketed with wildflowers, the creeks and waterfalls burble and splash from the winter rains, and the crags and meadows and forests smell of warm earth and flora basking in the sunshine. You can luxuriate in the mountain's late-spring resplendence at a top-dollar B&B, or you can go authentically rustic at the West Point Inn, which has been boarding hikers at a minimal stipend for precisely a century. Located just below Tam's western peak and maintained entirely by volunteers, the inn's wraparound deck commands incredible panoramas of the city, the bay, and long stretches of Pacific coastline. The natural setting is enhanced by the automobile-free surroundings and the electricity-free accommodations: seven small rooms with gas lights and heat, handmade bed quilts, and a shared bathroom with a claw-foot tub; and five roomier cabins with neither light nor heat but plenty of blankets. No food or bedclothes are provided, and no open flames are permitted, so pack wisely before hiking the two miles up from the Pan Toll parking lot. (The inn has a well-equipped kitchen where you can cook your own grub.) And after settling in, basking in the dusky quietude, and gazing at the stars from the top of the world for a mere $35 per night, the city will seem very far away indeed.