Looking at that crumpled summer “bucket list” and lamenting the items that still haven't been checked off?
If the list includes a trip to the beach, don't despair. September is a surprisingly smart time to hit the sand. The fog starts blowing off, delivering some of the clearest days of the year on the coast, and temperatures can hover in the mid 60s and 70s.
The Sonoma coast can be treacherous for swimmers. But if you want to give your kids that classic sandy beach experience, head out to Campbell Cove off Westside Road on the way to Bodega Head.
This little beach is nicely protected on the west side of the bay and is a great place for little tykes to play in the sand away from treacherous sneaker waves.
Doran Park at the southern edge of Bodega Bay also has a fairly protected strip of sand for playing on the beach or sunbathing, and this month is a good time to get your Doran fix since the park will be closed Oct. 14-24 for road repairs.
The reserved campsites are spoken for, but 20 sites are held open on a first-come, first-served basis for that last camp-out of the summer.
This also is your last best chance to raptor watch. The Marin Headlands is a veritable avian highway in September and early October, with 19 species of hawk, falcon, eagles and vultures soaring over the coast on their way to warmer feeding grounds in the south.
The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, which has been tracking the migration for more than 25 years, gives free Hawk Talks atop Hawk Hill starting at noon on Saturdays and Sundays. At the end of the talk, you may get to meet a newly banded bird before before it's set back on its way.
Hawk Hill also is a breathtaking spot simply to take in 360-degree views of the Bay, from Mt. Tam to Mt. Diablo. Take the Alexander Avenue exit before the Golden Gate Bridge, turn right at Conzelamn Road and go three miles. GGRO.org.