Just thirty miles north-west of San Francisco, West Marin County makes for an idyllic weekend escape. Here is a flaneur’s guide to the perfect Point Reyes getaway.
WHERE TO STAY
OLEMA HOUSE: Olema House is an idyllic, 24-room retreat set upon four private acres of expansive lawns and tranquil gardens alongside a babbling brook. Surrounded by national forest parkland and pristine coastal wilderness, Olema House is perfectly situated for hikers and cyclists with trails starting at the hotel’s doorstep. Many of the rooms have fireplaces, few have televisions and the hotel also has two self-contained cottages and a family friendly apartment available for larger groups.
MANKA’S: Located on Tomales Bay in Inverness, Manka’s is made up of three separate properties—boat houses on the bay with doors that open right onto the water; cabins tucked away on a ridge; and the main quarters located inside a 1917 hunting and fishing lodge. The rooms are luxe log cabin camping in style with Pendleton blankets, log post beds and stone slab fronted fireplaces. Breakfast made with locally sourced bread, butter and honey is brought to your room each morning.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
THE BOVINE BAKERY: Breakfast on freshly baked muffins, scones and pastries and strong drip, fair trade organic coffee at this from-scratch bakery. The bakery was established in 1990 and now a local institution. All ingredients are local and organic. The window seating offers a bird’s eye view of local life in Point Reyes.
COWGIRL CREAMERY: Located in a renovated hay barn in downtown Point Reyes. This deli and cafe is a great spot to stock up on sandwiches for a picnic with award-winning cheeseboards and local wines. Watch the fresh small batch cheeses being made using milk from neighboring Straus Family Creamery while you shop.
HEIDRUN MEADERY: This centuries old-wine made from fermented honey has been given an update by former beer brewer Gordon Hull. Hull produces naturally sparkling varietal meads using the traditional French Méthode Champenoise. Heidrun’s singular objective is to reveal honey’s exotic floral essence in mead varietals that are light, dry, crisp and refreshing—and always served ice cold. Some of the‘vintages’include Oregon radish blossom, Point Reyes wildflower, Hawaiian lehua blossom and Madras carrot blossom. Call ahead to schedule a tasting.
OSTERIA STELLINA: A small-town restaurant with a national reputation. Osteria Stellina serves rustic dishes made from local ingredients sourced from the robust community of farmers, ranchers and fisherman. Since opening in 2008, Osteria Stellina’s daily printed menu has become a reflection of the surrounding region’s ever-evolving seasonal supply of local produce, meats, cheeses, and seafood, wine and beers. The buffalo milk gelato is to-die-for .
WHAT TO DO
Arch Rock via Bear Valley trail is the most popular trail in Point Reyes National Seashore. It is for good reason as it’s the most direct route to the ocean from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. It is an excellent trail for beginners & children. The trail is sheltered from sun, wind and coastal fog as it meanders through mixed Douglas fir forest and along Bear Valley Creek to the Arch Rock overlook point. (Distance:8.2 miles; Time: 4 hours; Level of Difficulty: Moderate)
Point Reyes Lighthouse on the Point Reyes Headlands. Originally coined La Punta de los Reyes on January 6, 1603 by Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno. It is the final resting place for many a ship that fell prey to the dangerous combination of geography, heavy fog, strong currents and winds the point is known for. Built in 1870 with a lighthouse lens shipped from France and cast iron housing brought over from San Francisco. The historic lighthouse is now a perfect spot to watch whales, sea lions and birds rather than shipwrecks.
Tomales Bay is one of the few locations in the world where bioluminescent dinoflagellates are visible. These plankton produce bursts of light when disturbed. A bioluminescence night kayaking tour is a Point Reyes must. Best viewed on nights with no moonlight. Perfect conditions occur about two weeks out of every month. It’s worth checking ahead when planning your stay.