Day Out in Point Reyes Station
December 27, 2011Posted by pamela |
Point Reyes Station isn't West Marin's biggest town, but it certainly is its busiest. While the railroad that gave this small town its name is long gone, Point Reyes Station has become something of a tourist mecca in recent years, with a focus on sustainable agriculture, locally produced artisanal and organic foods, and art. On weekends, the main street of this quaint and charming gateway to the magnificent Point Reyes National Seashore bustles with West Marin locals, Bay Area day trippers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, hikers, and visitors from around the world.
Even though many of Point Reyes Station's attractions are geared toward adults, there's plenty for families to do here, making it an attractive day trip destination in and of itself, or a worthwhile stop on the way to or from the beaches and hiking trails of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Most of Point Reyes Station's businesses are clustered around Highway One, AKA A Street, Main Street, and Shoreline Highway. A walk down Main Street's sidewalks takes you by art galleries, boutiques, and gourmet restaurants, as well as businesses more traditionally associated with small rural towns, like a feed store, hardware store, garage, and saloon.
Here are a few of our favorite places to visit when we find ourselves in Point Reyes Station with children in tow.
Point Reyes Dining and Food
It's not exactly a secret that many people come to Point Reyes Station with eating on their minds. West Marin's agricultural focus means there are plenty of locally grown and produced food, much of which you probably see at the farmer's market. Bread from Brick Maiden, artisanal cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, oysters from Hog Island or Drake's Bay, and fresh organic produce are all readily available here. But don't worry—there are plenty of places to get food that your kids will actually eat, too.
- Our favorite spot for an inexpensive, tasty, and uncrowded lunch or dinner in Point Reyes Station is Cafe Reyes. Right around the corner from downtown on Highway One, it's a great local hangout that makes fantastic Neapolitan style pizza in a wood-burning oven. They're open Tuesday–Sunday from noon–9 pm. Read our review of Cafe Reyes here.
- The world famous Point Reyes Farmers Market (Prince Charles and Camilla made it a point to stop here on their last visit to the California) takes place on Saturday mornings in the summer and fall from 9 am–1 pm. Find locally produced fresh produce, grass-fed beef, cheeses, flowers, clothing, and body care products, as well as chef demonstrations, live music, and food vendors like Point Reyes Grilled Cheese. The market takes place at Toby's Feed Barn on Main Street. Check their website for a schedule of offerings.
- The Station House Cafe has been a fixture in Point Reyes Station for over 30 years, offering up local and sustainable food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner six days a week (they're closed on Wednesdays). Their kids' menu features favorites like grilled cheese, fish and chips, a burger, and even a kids' cobb salad. The Station House Cafe can get really crowded on weekends and holidays, so expect to wait for a table at peak times. Find hours, sample menus, and more info on their website and read our review here.
- The Pine Cone Diner is offers fresh, local, sustainably-raised foods in funky retro diner setting. Their traditional diner food with a gourmet twist appeals to West Marin locals and visitors alike. While their food is good, they pride themselves in "prickly service", so expect an occasional extra helping of attitude with your meal. The Pine Cone Diner is just outside downtown at 4th and B Streets. Info, hours, and menus on their website.
- If you're in the mood for a treat, swing by tiny Bovine Bakery and grab some fantastic baked goods. We love their amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and fresh organic coffee. Be forewarned—Bovine Bakery proclaims itself an "espresso-free establishment", so no lattes here. You can also get pizza slices here for lunch, which you can take with your for a picnic since there's no place to sit and eat in the little shop. Bovine Bakery often has a line out the door, but don't worry, it moves pretty quickly. They're open seven days a week, 6:30 am–5 pm on weekdays and 7 am–5 pm.
- Just outside of town—over the bridge on the way to Olema—you'll find Marin Sun Farms' butcher shop, which serves up grass-fed beef, lamb and goat(!) burgers seven days a week from noon to 4 pm. They're not cheap, but they're tasty and locally sourced. Get more info on their website.
- If you're not looking to endure the whole restaurant experience, head to one of Point Reyes Station's two markets: Palace Market and Whale of a Deli and Market. Palace Market boasts an extensive deli counter with huge, reasonably priced sandwiches and a wide variety of salads and other prepared foods—a perfect place to pick up your picnic. On weekends, there's often a BBQ grill set up outside cooking reasonably priced hot dogs, burgers, and more. Whale of a Deli, at the opposite end of Main Street, offers Mexican food, deli sandwiches, and even pizza, as well as ice cream and snacks.
Point Reyes Shopping
While most of the shops and boutiques in Point Reyes Station are geared to adults with a lot of disposable income, there are a few spots that families should check out while in town.
- A fixture in the center of town since 1942, Toby's Feed Barn is a place where you can buy bales of hay, salt licks, and bags of rabbit food, but it's also home to a coffee bar, art gallery, yoga studio (yes, really), gift shop, and of course the Saturday morning Point Reyes Farmer's Market. Browse Toby's for pet supplies, gourmet snacks, t-shirts, cards, books, toys, jewelry, and more.
- Down the street, Into the Blue is a toy store that specializes in kites of all shapes and sizes, so if you don't have a kite to fly out at the beach, this just might be the place to stop. Into the Blue also stocks an impressive array of Melissa & Doug toys, games, craft kits, puzzles, stuffed animals, and more. They're open from 10 am to 5 pm daily June through early September and the month of December, and Thursday through Monday the rest of the year.
- Point Reyes Books is a small independent bookstore with a great selection of new and used books, as well as a well-stocked children's section and plenty of titles of local interest. We always stop in here when we're in town, and it's right next door to Bovine Bakery. They're open daily 10 am to 6 pm.
Play at Point Reyes
Most of the recreational opportunities in the area lie outside of town on the lands of Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay State Park.
Little ones can blow off some energy—if you haven't already tired them out at the beach—at Point Reyes Playground, AKA Toby's Community Park, located behind Toby's Feed Barn at the corner of Mesa Road and Toby Street. This small park has a climbing structure, a sand-play area, tot swings, restrooms, drinking fountains, and a picnic area. It's also a great place to take your picnic lunch and eat on a nice day.
For more serious play, at Point Reyes National Seashore offers beaches, hiking trails, and other attractions, including whale- and Elephant Seal-watching in the winter and spring. Browse all our articles on family friendly activities and destinations in Point Reyes National Seashore and nearby areas.
If You Go
Point Reyes Station is located in West Marin on Highway 1. To get there from southern and central Marin, take Sir Francis Boulevard west through the San Geronimo Valley and Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Follow Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to Highway 1 in Olema. Turn right (north) on Highway 1 and follow it into Point Reyes Station. To get there from northern Marin, take Novato Boulevard west, turn left on Point Reyes–Petaluma Road and follow it to Point Reyes Station; alternately, take Lucas Valley Road west to Nicasio and then follow Nicasio Valley Road to Point Reyes–Petaluma Road.
West Marin weather is notoriously fickle, so make sure you dress in layers. We've experienced some of the coldest and foggiest weather there in the summer and some of the nicest days in the middle of winter, so be prepared for anything! If you plan to go out to the beaches and trails of Point Reyes National Seashore, hiking books or sturdy walking shoes are recommended, as is a wind-proof shell or parka.