For the urban family whose closest commune with nature is fighting off the pigeons trying to pick off their brunch leftovers, our untamed neighbor to the north, Tomales Bay, is the perfect place to let the little ones tap into their inner wild child.
Photo by Kevin Krejci via Flickr
Driving up Sir Francis Drake Boulevard on your way there, you’ll pass Samuel P. Taylor State Park. This campground is the closest spot in the area to sleep under the stars, and it’s a popular quick getaway for Bay Area weekend warriors. You’ll get a bit of road noise, and the sites aren’t very spread out, but the hikes in the park, and the opportunity to splash in the creek or pedal a bike along the Cross Marin Trail, make up for it.
8889 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
There are a handful of quaint inns and B&Bs to stay at in the area, but for the price and with kids in tow, browsing Airbnb for your own private waterfront home is the best option. We like the High Tide Cottage, with 3 bedrooms and its own private beach, and this one, nestled further up in the hills, but with a killer deck and updated kitchen and bath.
To fill part of the day with a hike, take the 2.5-mile Tomales Point trail, which leaves from a small parking lot at the end of Pierce Point Road. At Windy Gap, look east into White Gulch where the native Tule Elk like to gather and drink from the spring. The miniature elk are regal but less imposing than their full-size counterparts. The trail is relatively flat but narrow at times and not suitable for strollers, so plan to carry non walkers in a pack. Find trail maps and a list of easy, under-one-hour hikes here.
Local outfit Blue Waters Kayaking has two launch points in the area (Marshall and Inverness) and offers everything from guided tours to independent rentals to introductory classes for kids as young as 7 (but little ones must be at least 50 lbs. to go along for the ride). Get inspired by browsing their list of tours and then get ready to jump in for your own family adventure.
12944 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
19225 Shoreline Hwy.
Photo courtesy of the Marshall Store
Food is on everyone’s minds up here, from sublime dairy to organic produce—and of course, the area’s famed bivalves. At the Marshall Store, they’ll serve you your oysters any way you want em: raw, barbecued or with their garlic butter and House Sauce. Sit out on the deck overlooking the water while you snack on seafood stew, fish tacos and dugeness crabs. And for tikes who still get squirmy at the idea of eating fish, their turkey or veggie panini and a few strips of the heavenly house-made beefy jerky are sure to please.
19225 State Hwy 1
Photo courtesy of James Cohen via Flickr
Stop in Point Reyes Station and visit Cowgirl Creamery, where the kids can watch the cheese mongers in action (10am–4pm Wednesday thru Friday are good times to view cheesemaking and avoid the official tour crowds). Pick up wine, sandwiches, salads, and of course, cheese, from the Cowgirl Cantina and enjoy it outside on the shaded picnic area.
80 4th Street
Point Reyes Station, Ca
Photo by Angelo DeSantis via Flickr
For a memorable sit-down lunch or dinner, Osteria Stellina makes use of the local bounty—produce, cheese, meats and more—to turn out perfect pastas and mouth-watering pizzas. Save room for a few scoops of their house made ice cream.
11285 Highway 1
Point Reyes Station, Ca