The Bay Area’s Ultimate Coastal Day Trip
Forty miles north of San Francisco lies Pt. Reyes Station, a coastal hamlet that warmly welcomes visitors on their way to the beaches and trails of Pt. Reyes National Seashore. The pastoral dreamy landscape that surrounds this town is enough to make you never want to leave, but for day trippers it’s the ultimate get-away.
How to get there: Pt. Reyes Station is about an hour north of San Francisco. From Highway 101 in Larkspur, take the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard exit west to Olema, turn right at Highway 1/SFDB, and follow north toward Point Reyes Station. Street parking is available along State Rt. 1/or “Main Street” as the locals call it or on side streets.
What to bring: You could bring a stroller for sidewalk touring and maybe your camera to commemorate the day. If you plan on hiking later on, bring good walking shoes and plenty of water for the trail.
What to wear: Layered clothing is recommended for foggy coastal days.
What to do: Browsing or window-shopping along Main Street, you’ll be surprised by the curious mix of art galleries, antique stores, restaurants and novelty shops for such a small town. The epitome of west Marin, Toby’s Feed Barn is a general store, art gallery, yoga studio, coffee bar and community garden all rolled into one. Toby’s also hosts local events and an incredible farmers market during the season.
A locally owned independent bookseller Pt. Reyes Books draws crowds for their exceptional author events. They also offer a wide selection of new and used children’s books and friendly service. Your children will enjoy popping Into The Blue – a toy store with loads of educational toys, wind socks, kites, mobiles, games, and Melissa & Doug toys.
Pt. Reyes Playground, better known as Toby’s Community Park, beckons children with its sand play area, tot swings, and a climbing structure. Also, it’s another great pit-stop to bring your coffee and snacks.
Where to eat: Bovine Bakery sells baked goods, quiches and ham and cheese croissants fresh from the oven and perfect picnic fare on a beautiful day. Just in front of Cowgirl Creamery, you’ll find a grassy square complete with picnic tables and even an apothecary. They offer sandwiches and salads at the counter or you can sample some of the local artisan cheeses like Mt. Tam, Red Hawk, Pierce Point, and Devil’s Gulch. Still not satisfied? Check out their library of cheese. Kids can peak through a glassed-in viewing window and watch as they make cheese on Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
If you’d prefer to dine indoors rather than al fresco, Pt. Reyes Station doesn’t disappoint with its outstanding locally sourced, gourmet restaurants. Osterina Stellina is probably the best new restaurant near the seashore. Delicious starters, pizza, pasta and a phenomenal pastry chef make this Italian gem the talk of the town.
Originally a truck stop, Pine Cone Diner is another breakfast spot famous for its pancakes. Don’t forget to save room for their cobbler with locally made ice cream. Station House Café is a must with menu highlights like Niman Ranch short ribs, roasted chicken panzanella, and Hog Island oysters. Kids can choose between fish & chips, grilled cheese, and Niman franks and fries. The courtyard seating area is especially lovely on warm days with its small organic garden and wild roses in bloom.
Local trails within close driving distance: On the grounds of Bear Valley Visitor Center, you’ll find picnic tables and BBQ grills under the redwoods, restrooms/water fountains and quite a few easy and accessible trails. Park at the Visitor’s Center and follow the shady Bear Valley Trail, along a creek to Divide Meadow, a heavenly picnic spot. It’s roughly three miles roundtrip to the meadow and back to the parking lot. For the more adventurous, you can keep going all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
– Nicki Richesin
Photo credit: bubbletea1 via Flickr