Point Reyes Adventures

Point Reyes is one of the most amazing places on earth, and it's right in our back yard! Here's our guide to exploring this incredible part of Marin County with your family.

Stop by the Station House Café for Family Dining in Point Reyes Station

April 11, 2012

Inside the Station House CafeOne of our favorite West Marin dining spots is the Station House Café in Point Reyes Station. We don't always get to dine there, though, because it's a busy place—you usually have to wait for a table on weekends. We recently got a chance to swing by during the week for lunch, and it was a real treat.

The Station House Cafe is located on Point Reyes Station's main street, so you can't miss it. It serves up comfort food classics made from fresh, local, and organic ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's a great place to stop off for a hearty breakfast before you hit the hiking trails or the beach, or to unwind over lunch or dinner after a day at Point Reyes National Seashore. Their pretty comprehensive kids' menu offers selections like fish and chips ($6.50), noodles with butter ($5), grilled cheese ($5.50), a Niman Ranch frank and fries ($6.95), and a kid's cobb salad ($6.95).

Visit Point Reyes' Cowgirl Creamery for Picnics, Cheese and More

March 6, 2012

Cheeses at Cowgirl CreameryIn recent years, the tiny West Marin town of Point Reyes Station has become something of a foodie hot spot, and one of the reasons for this is Cowgirl Creamery, creator of amazing artisanal cheeses crafted from locally produced milk. When you're visiting Point Reyes Station or passing through on the way to the beach at Point Reyes National Seashore, Cowgirl Creamery and Cowgirl Cantina are worth a stop to not only pick up some delicious locally produced foods, but to see how artisan and farmstead cheese is made as well.

Step through the doors of the weathered wood Tomales Bay Foods building on Point Reyes Station's 4th Street (around the corner from the town's main drag), and you'll be greeted by a cheese counter holding a bewildering variety of cheeses, many of which are the products of Cowgirl Creamery. Don't be afraid to ask for samples, which the cheesemongers will happily give.

Family Dining in Marin: Cafe Reyes in Point Reyes Station

July 11, 2011

Cafe Reyes in Point Reyes StationOver the past few years the little West Marin town of Point Reyes Station has become a hot spot for tourists and Bay Area day-trippers. With its bucolic rural setting, charming downtown, nearby Point Reyes National Seashore, and emphasis on local sustainable foods and agriculture, it's no wonder why it's become such a popular place. For visiting families, however, Point Reyes Station can pose something of a challenge, especially when you're hungry and need something to eat. Offerings in town tend to be either expensive or extremely busy, especially on weekends and holidays. That's why we love Cafe Reyes.

Located on Highway One just around the corner from downtown Point Reyes Station, this rustic and charming restaurant is inexpensive, usually uncrowded (it's more of a hangout for locals rather than a tourist destination), and offers up some of the best and most authentic Neapolitan style pizza we've found anywhere. Cafe Reyes has been around for years, serving up Mexican-inspired fare for many years until they decided to switch gears a few years ago and install a massive wood-fired pizza oven, which you can see—or feel, owing to the amount of heat it gives off—when you walk in the front door.

Fun in the Sun at Heart’s Desire Beach

May 28, 2011

Heart's Desire BeachWhen the temperature rises this summer and you need to get away from the inland heat, heading out to the beach is always a popular idea. Unfortunately, the beach experience in Northern California, even on a nice day, can be something of a challenge, and usually involves donning multiple layers of clothing to stave off the cold ocean wind. Swimming at beaches here often involves putting your life at risk, too, with icy water temperatures, pounding surf, and deadly rip currents posing a hazard to even the strongest swimmers.

Let's face it: most Marin beaches are beautiful and dramatic, but you're pretty much limited to walking and playing in the sand.

Fortunately, there are some great local alternatives, if you know where to look. One of our favorite places to hang out at on a sunny day is Heart's Desire Beach at Tomales Bay State Park. On the opposite side of Inverness Ridge from the chillier ocean beaches of Point Reyes, Heart’s Desire is a white stretch of sand running along a calm, sheltered stretch of Tomales Bay. There’s no surf to speak of, and the shallow water is warm and perfect for wading, swimming, and just having fun. The swimming area is surrounded by buoys to keep boat traffic away (except for kayaks and canoes; it's a popular launching and put-in place for those), and there's often an anchored raft to swim out to.

Day Out at Drakes Beach

January 16, 2011

Drakes Beach panoramaWhile much of the nation digs itself out from snowdrifts and bundles up against the elements, we in Northern California can enjoy some delightful mid-winter weather, especially out at the coast, where it's often warmer than it is inland at this time of year. One favorite coastal destination for families is Drakes Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore. Drakes beach's popularity has much to do with its sheltered location, amenities, convenient location, and beautiful scenery. Drakes Beach can also serve as a jumping off point for further exploration of Point Reyes, especially during the winter and spring when the winter shuttle bus program is in place.

Drakes Beach—named after Elizabethan seafarer Sir Francis Drake, who in all likelihood paid a visit to the area with his ship The Golden Hinde in 1579—is situated on the shores of Drakes Bay at the southern end of the Point Reyes Peninsula. Backed by dramatic white sandstone cliffs, Drakes Beach is sheltered from the weather by Point Reyes itself, so when it's windy and foggy and inhospitable at the lighthouse or North Beach, it will often be warm and sunny at Drakes.

A Fabulous Family Hike on Tomales Point Trail

May 5, 2010

One of our favorite places for a family outdoor outing is Point Reyes National Seashore, and it's a favorite with many other families in Marin, too. Guest author Stacey Padrick-Thompson writes about her recent hike on Tomales Point Trail.

My husband and 3-1/2 year old daughter recently hiked a section of the Tomales Point Trail at the northern tip of Point Reyes. Just the drive there is itself worth the time, especially while the hills are still green and wildflowers still blooming (the best flowers are in April and May). At points on our drive, with beauty surprising us around each bend in the road—gorgeous hills cascading down into the ocean, cows, sheep, and horses lazily grazing on the lush green grass, and birds soaring above, and then below, us as we crested the hills in our car—I was swept back to driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland.

Visit the Morgan Horses at Point Reyes

April 4, 2010

Morgan horseOne of our favorite places to go out in Point Reyes is the Bear Valley Visitor Center near Olema. It's a justifiably popular family destination for a number of reasons: the visitor center with its dioramas and nature exhibits, short trails perfect for a hike with small children, an expansive picnic area with tables and barbecue grills, and a working Morgan horse ranch.

We always make a point of visiting the Point Reyes Morgan Horse Ranch on our outings to the area. Combined with another short trail like the Earthquake Trail or the one to the Kule Loklo Miwok village, it makes for a managable hike with little kids. Of course there's something to do and see at the end of the trail, too, which is a plus.

The Morgan Horse Ranch is run by the National Park Service, and rangers use the horses at parks all of the country to patrol the back country and wilderness areas. Morgan horses are considered the first American breed of horse, and are prized for their sturdy nature and calm temperament. Famous Morgan horses in American history include Confederate general Stonewall Jackson's Little Sorrel, Union cavalry commander Philip Sheridan's Rienzi, and

Wildflower Madness in West Marin

April 19, 2009

wildflowers at Point ReyesIt's mid-April and Northern Calfornia's wildflowers are pretty much at their peak. Spring is kind of an emphemeral time here in Marin, with the vibrant green grass quickly turning to brown by the end of May. For whatever reason we seem to have a bumper crop of magnificent wildflowers here in Marin this season. The wildflower show will be over before we know if, so make sure you get out and take a look before they're gone for another year.

Holiday Hike for Families on the Earthquake Trail

December 16, 2008

Earthquake trail in Point ReyesWhen you're sick of shopping... When you can't stand another Christmas song piped in on the sound system... When you can't bear one more cheesy holiday special on ABC Family Channel's seemingly endless parade of TV movies... Maybe it's time to forget about the Christmas rush, bundle up, hit the trail, and take the family outdoors for a holiday hike.

Fortunately for us, we live in California, and winter is almost like our spring: no snow, no ice, and bright green grass springing up everywhere. It's really one of the most beautiful times to head outdoors and take a hike and be thankful that you didn't listen to your older brother and move out to Chicago, where as I write this it's a balmy 8ºF.

West Marin Wildflowers at Abbott's Lagoon

March 28, 2008

Abbott's Lagoon trail in Point Reyes National SeashoreThe coming of spring ushers in California's all too brief wildflower season. One of the best places to see wildflowers in the Bay Area is the Point Reyes National Seashore in West Marin. Repeat visitors to this site know that Point Reyes is probably our favorite place for a family outdoor outing, and in March and April you can also see some pretty spectacular wildflower displays, especially since we've had a wet winter.