Family Fun in Point Reyes
It's no secret that Point Reyes National Seashore and the surrounding area are a fantastic destination for active family fun. We love heading out to West Marin to visit the beach, tackle a hiking trail, or watch for wildlife.
It's a big place with lots to do, so here's our guide for family outings highlighting a few of our favorite Point Reyes destinations and activities. For even more ideas for family fun in West Marin, make sure you check out our Point Reyes page.
The Bear Valley Visitor Center
The visitor center at the park headquarters in Bear Valley is often the first stop on our visits to Point Reyes. Families can learn about the history and nature of this unique area and kids can even become junior rangers! There's a great gift shop at the center as well.
Watch for Whales at the Point Reyes Lighthouse
The iconic Point Reyes Lighthouse, which has warned mariners away from the treacherous coast since 1870, is the place to go for whale watching every winter and spring. Watch for migrating gray whales from the observation deck or brave the 300-plus steps down to the lighthouse itself (the equivalent of a 25-story building). It's a fun place to visit at any time of year, especially when the weather is clear.
Explore Drakes Beach
Drakes Beach — named after Elizabethan seafarer Sir Francis Drake, who may have visited the area 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, foggy and inhospitable at the lighthouse or North Beach, it will often be warm and sunny at Drakes. It's great for wading in the surf, building sandcastles, and exploring at any time of year.
Hike and Watch for Wildlife at Chimney Rock
Located near the Point Reyes Lighthouse, Chimney Rock is a great destination for a family outing at any time of year. In addition to amazing views, you can see some of Point Reyes' natural wonders: enormous elephants seals on the beach from November through April and a spectacular wildlife display in the spring. It's even a good place to watch for whales in the winter.
Relax at Chicken Ranch Beach
This beach outside Inverness off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is a Marin County Park and a popular destination for families. Since it's on Tomales Bay, it's safe for wading and swimming and the weather is usually nicer here than on the other side of Inverness Ridge, making it the perfect place to spread out the blankets, raise the beach umbrella, and spend a relaxing day on the sand. It's right down the street from Inverness Market — a great place to pick up snacks or a picnic lunch — and the famous Point Reyes "shipwreck" seen in so many photos.
Shop, Dine, and Play in Point Reyes Station
The town of Point Reyes Station is the area's social, commercial, and cultural hub. On weekends, the main street of this quaint gateway to Point Reyes National Seashore bustles with activity. It offers great dining and shopping, a bustling farmer's market on Saturday mornings, and live performances and programs at the Dance Palace. We always visit Bovine Bakery for coffee and amazing jumbo cookies before a hike.
Limantour is a great destination for a day at the beach. Like neighboring Drakes Beach (currently closed while they work on the parking lot and wetlands restoration), the waves here can be gentler than those on the Pacific-facing beaches, making it often safe for wading. Miles of beach are ripe for exploration and you'll find several popular trails nearby.
Visit the Morgan Horse Ranch
The National Park Service's working Morgan Horse Ranch in Bear Valley is always a fun destination. Learn about this unique American breed of horse and how the Park Service uses them at locations throughout the country. You'll often find staff and volunteers on hand who are usually happy to let kids get up close and personal with the horses.
Hike the Bear Valley Trail
The Bear Valley Trail is an awesome place for a family hike. Follow it all the way out to the coast or stop at Divide Meadow for a picnic. It flat and shaded and perfect for an off-road stroller or bikes. There's even a creek to explore and little bridges to cross along the way. If you want a shorter hike with the kiddos, then the nearby Earthquake Trail is a perfect choice.
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