The Point Reyes National Seashore ranks high among Bay Area day trips thanks to its proximity to the city, coastal hikes and, of course, oysters.
But the area, where the hubs of Point Reyes Station, Olema and Inverness have all the classic small town vibes you could want from a quick escape, is also home to some terrific overnight stays—from deliciously mom-and-pop to stunningly stylish—and restaurants to rival anything in San Francisco. It all adds up to a primo weekend getaway for urbanites, naturalists, and foodies. Here's how to make the most of your next drive up the coast.
Where to Stay in Point Reyes
If it's an old fashioned country escape you seek, you'll find plenty of vintage vibes among the region's boutique hotels.
For Cult-Worthy Style
Though Manka's Inverness Lodge (Starting at $275 per night; 30 Callendar Way, Inverness, 415.669.1034) has never fully rebuilt since it devastatingly burned down in 2006, the rooms and restaurant still operated by its owners, Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong, remain the region's top choice for fashionable travelers with a taste for culinary riches. Where Manka's main house once stood you'll find an Airstream that serves as reception; once you procure your key, you're free to enter your masterfully conceived forest getaway, whether you're staying in the four-room Annex (a 1917 hunting and fishing lodge), in one of the standalone cabins, or at the boathouse down on Tomales Bay. The interiors here don't feel entirely indoors—with chunky log beds, heavy flannels, plaids and leathers, stone fireplaces, and antlers galore, the vibe here is woodsy Ralph Lauren at its finest.
In 2015, Grade and DeLong restored and opened the nearby Hotel Olema (Starting at $250 per night; 10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Olema, 415.669.1034) which, like its sister Manka's, has style in spades despite no working website. Tucked above the couple's absolutely dreamy restaurant, Sir and Star (more on that later), the inn has just five antique-filled rooms and an alluring avian theme.
Furthering the reach of their cult-worthy hospitality, the team recently opened Olema Druid's Hall (Starting at $295 per night; 9870 Hwy. 1., Olema, 415.669.1034), an 1880s building that once hosted meetings of the United Ancient Order of Druids fraternity, just down the road. It's a charming, comfortable stay that's just a convenient stumble from the best dinner around. Call for reservations—these folks are old school.
For Books and Breakfast
If the tiny town of Inverness actually had a downtown, this contemporary B&B would be sitting just behind it. Ten Inverness Way has a lot going for it: affordability, quality, and proximity to Tomales Bay. You'll check into one of six uniquely designed rooms but may find yourself drawn to the common space where comfy nooks and lots of books beckon for a quiet moment with a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night. You'll wake up each morning to something delicious—buckwheat waffles with fresh blackberries? Yes please. // Starting at $800 per night; 10 Inverness Way (Inverness), teninvernessway.com
For Nature Lovers
The Lodge at Point Reyes is a local mainstay. Built in 1988 on the edge of the national park, this 22-room, two-cottage retreat lures nature lovers with three acres of green lawns and English gardens bursting against Olema Creek. You could easily stay in all weekend with food and drink available at the relaxed in-house restaurant, Farm House, a library full of books, fireplaces and hot tubs. Look out for a refresh this October when the lodge unveils a new name: Olema House. // Starting at $250 per night; 10021 Coastal Highway 1, (Olema) thelodgeatptreyes.com
Click through for the best restaurants and activities in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Eat + Drink
If you're hanging around Tomales Bay, there's one thing you have to eat: oysters. Well that and cheese. (Though not necessarily in the same bite.) Here's where to chow.
Sir and Star
Make no mistake about it, Margaret Grade and chef Daniel DeLong's Sir and Star, on the ground floor of the old-as-the-town Olema Inn, is one of the best restaurants anywhere. Serving the couple's three boutique hotels as well as taking reservations for intimate feasts, the restaurant specializes in the kind of decadent fare you'd expect to eat by the fire as taxidermy birds keep an eye on things. Sir and Star is only open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday, and that may be a good thing: With dishes as richly flavored as they are named—Faux Gras Fashioned From Local Duck Livers So Delicious It Should Be Illegal; and Buns and Butter Laced with Once Wildly Stinging Nettles—you may need a whole day or two to recover from it. // 10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. (Olema), sirandstar.com
Hog Island Oyster Company
This wildly popular go-to needs little introduction—since 1983, Hog Island has been farming fresh, sustainable oysters feeding them to the masses (those who managed to get reservations, that is). If you want a seat on the bay-side patio for fresh-shucked and barbecued oysters, you better call ahead. // 20215 Shoreline Highway (Marshall), hogislandoysters.com
The Marshall Store Oyster Bar & Smokehouse
When Tomales Bay Oyster Company was forced to close its picnic area due to permitting issues, a favorite BYOB bivalve spot was lost forever. While that's not stopping us from picking up bags of oysters and mussels to take to the beach, we are also happy as clams to have a full-service meal at the company's Marshall Store, where we can feast on in-season crab as well as smoked oysters on crostini and sandwiches. // 19225 State Route 1 (Marshall), themarshallstore.com
Saltwater Oyster Depot
Side Street Kitchen
This bright and cheery eatery takes the place of the beloved old greasy spoon, the Pine Cone Diner. Opened last year by longtime Point Reyes resident Sheryl Cahill, the newly remodeled space still pays homage to its history—the diner's 1950s counter and stools remain. Go for slow-cooked meats, smoked fish, and fresh vegetables before heading to your next adventure. // 60 4th St, (Point Reyes Station), sidestreet-prs.com
Inverness Park Market
This is the kind of place where neighbors run into each other, popping in to grab their morning coffee and a breakfast sandwich or, later in the day, saddling up for a brew at the new tap room next door. Deli, grocery, lunch spot, beer bar—what else is there. // 12301 Sir Francis Drake Blvd (Inverness), invernessparkmarket.com
Point Reyes Station's five-block main stretch is home to clapboard buildings, small shops, and a saloon straight out of the 1800s. But never mind the decidedly wild west vibe—you'll find modern Italian fare too. Christian Caiazzo's Osteria Stellina is laid-back but vibrant, a perfect spot for noshing tasty pizzas, pastas, and nightly specials. // 11285 Highway 1 (Point Reyes Station) osteriastellina.com
Station House Cafe
Across the street, Station House Cafe's secret garden-esque patio fills up quickly when the weather is nice. Loved by locals and tourists alike, the eatery serves up quality comfort food made with ingredients sourced from neighboring farms, fisheries, and creameries. Swing by for a breakfast of French toast, eggs Benedict, or chilaquiles. At lunch, get festive with oysters and bubbly. Dinner is reserved for guilty pleasures—think mac and cheese, turkey chili, roast chicken, and cocktails. If you're around on a Sunday, pop in for live music. // 11180 Highway 1 (Point Reyes Station) stationhousecafe.com
Cheese and Mead Tastings
The Point Reyes Seashore also has a thriving agricultural community. While you'll get a chance to try locally sourced produce, fish, and cheese at more than a few of the area's restaurants, you can see where the stuff is made and take tours and tastings in Point Reyes Station.
At Cowgirl Creamery (80 4th St., Point Reyes Station) you can sample classics including their Mt.Tam and Red Hawk cheeses and pair them with bottles of wine and other grab and go snacks for a picnic outside. On Fridays, make a reservation for a tour ($5 per person).
When your belly's full of snacks, head up the road to Heidrun Meadery (11925 State Route 1, Point Reyes Station), where you can witness "flower to flute" mead production. Drop by for a tasting; on Saturdays and Sundays, tour their farm, beehives, and meadery to learn how they make this sweet treat.
Click through for fun things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Things to Do in Point Reyes National Seashore
Even though Point Reyes National Seashore is just 40 miles from San Francisco, it's rugged, wild, and best explored by bike, foot, or kayak.
The region is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals, but the herd at Tule Elk Preserve (nps.gov) is perhaps the most impressive. See more than 400 tule elk grazing freely, and schedule a tour during rut season in the fall. Alamere Falls is a must-hike and can draw a crowd, but the 8.4 mile round-trip trek rewards hikers with a glimpse of the splendid waterfall dropping directly into the Pacific.
Mountain bikers credit Marin County as the birthplace of the sport, starting in the 1970s on nearby Mt. Tam, but the neighboring Point Reyes National Seashore doesn't exactly lack for excellent trails. Get dirty going downhill on the roads behind Inverness, on the Inverness Ridge Trail, or meander down Drake's Bay on the Sunset Beach Trail. Need a rental? Swing by Mountain Bike San Francisco, in the bike-obsessed town of Fairfax (40 Manor Rd.), on your way up north.
Kayaking + Bioluminescence Tours
The Tomales Bay can be notoriously windy and chilly, but catch it on a calm day and you'll make kayaking magic. Rent a rig from Point Reyes Outdoors (11401 Hwy 1, Point Reyes Station) and paddle your way up the 14-mile stretch of unspoiled coastline. Peer into tidal pools and keep an eye out for the birds who nest here as you go. Starting in March, take your kayak trip after sundown for some incredible bioluminescent gazing. Point Reyes Outdoors and Blue Waters Kayaking (12944 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Inverness) both offer guided tours to visitors wanting to see the glittering, natural phenomenon that occurs when tiny plankton emit light.
Whale and Seal Watching
Nature's giant mammals are the stars of the famous Whale Trail, which has viewing points from Alaska all the way down to San Diego. Head out to Point Reyes Lighthouse or Chimney Rock December through February and March through May, when pods of California Grey Whales make the trek south to Baja and back again. For a front row seat to the action, drive up to Bodega Bay to link up with one of four local outfitters.
If you want to see some seals, Chimney Rock is the best spot, home to a sizable population of northern Elephant seals. Hike up the two-mile roundtrip trail to the aptly named Elephant Seal Overlook. Check with the National Park Service for shuttles and road closures.
(Courtesy of Marin CVB)
Located just one famous bridge away from a world-class city, Marin County is the Bay Area's outdoor entertainment center for those who like blue skies. For more information, go to visitmarin.org. Thank you to our partners at Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau.