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In and Around Point Reyes National Seashore

In and Around Point Reyes National Seashore

Picture of Michelle Sarmenta
Updated: 9 February 2017
Point Reyes National Seashore – established as a national park in 1962 – is located on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County, about 35 miles north of San Francisco. Visitors flock here year-round to enjoy majestic landscapes, beautiful beaches, and bountiful wildlife. Opportunities for recreation and exploration abound. There is something for just about everyone.

Point Reyes Seashore | © Luis Sarmenta
Point Reyes Seashore | © Luis Sarmenta

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes Lighthouse is definitely worth a visit. The lighthouse sits on the westernmost tip of the Point Reyes Headlands. Getting there is half the fun because the roads are scenic, and with an abundance of cattle farms in the area, cows can be seen roaming freely in pastures. It’s not uncommon for cars to stop at crossings to allow cow herds to pass through -great entertainment for the kids!

Visiting the lighthouse does require a bit of hiking. It’s a .4 mile walk from the parking lot to the visitor center. From the visitor center, visitors descend 308 steps to get to the lighthouse. It’s a great workout with breathtaking views of the pacific along the way. Plus, there are rest points on the narrow stairway if needed.

At the lighthouse, visitors can climb up the spiral staircase and stand on the ledge of the lighthouse. There is a bookstore and small museum near the base of the lighthouse.

Known as a great place for whale-watching, lucky visitors may spot some gray whales out in the Pacific.

Lighthouse | © Michelle Sarmenta
Lighthouse | © Michelle Sarmenta

Drakes Beach

Drakes Beach is located about seven miles from the lighthouse. On the road leading into the beach, herds of elk can sometimes be seen grazing in the field. These animals are lovely to watch in their natural settings.

Drakes Beach offers many amenities including a visitor center, a bookstore, and public restrooms. There’s no hiking needed to get here. The parking lot is conveniently located right next to the beach.

Enjoy dramatic ocean views and surreal sandstone cliffs while lounging on the beach, or take a hike around the cliffs. There are barbecue pits and picnic tables on site.

For a snack or souvenir, head to the bookstore. They sell maps and books about the area, along with mugs, t-shirts, and cute wildlife stuffed animals.

Drakes Beach  |© Michelle Sarmenta
Drakes Beach | © Michelle Sarmenta

Point Reyes Station and Marin Sun Farms Butcher and Restaurant

Point Reyes Station is a small town and the gateway to Point Reyes National Seashore. It was established in the 1800s as a railroad town. Currently, this town has a full array of unique stores, lodging, and restaurants.

Marin Sun Farms Butcher and Restaurant, located at 10905 Shoreline Hwy, Point Reyes Station, is a great place for lunch or an early dinner. This is definitely the place for steak and burger lovers. Patrons choose their favorite cut of meat from the butcher counter, and then have it cooked-to-order. The steaks and chops are served with salads and fries. They also have a nice selection of burgers, including lamb, goat, or beef. The Brussel sprouts with aioli and parmesan cheese are a tasty appetizer to get things started.

This is a popular restaurant, and it’s not very big, so there may be a wait for a table. Guests can dine inside or out in the garden on large picnic tables. The restaurant has a casual atmosphere, and the food is local, fresh, and delicious.

Be aware that they are not open every day of the week, and they close at 7pm on some days.

Muir Woods |© Luis Sarmenta
Muir Woods |© Luis Sarmenta

Muir Woods

Muir Woods is located 20 miles south of Point Reyes Seashore via route CA 1, about 16 miles north of San Francisco.

The Muir Woods forest is an accessible spot full of ancient redwoods. For a simple and easy hike, visitors can stay on the main trail with paved paths, where there are lovely sections of the forest to enjoy. Cathedral Grove is a nice spot to sit and contemplate in the silence of the woods, while a creek runs down the center of the forest where visitors can rest and take pictures. Sometimes deer can be seen along the trail.

Visitors that would like to do a longer hike on more challenging terrain might enjoy the one-and-a-half hour loop called the Canopy View Trail. It’s a more rigorous hike, with some semi-steep inclines going up and down the trail. Toward the end of the trail, there is an foot bridge in a very picturesque area that has a redwood tree log lying horizontally, baring its roots.

Summer evenings are a wonderful time to go on a hike because the weather is cool and the sun sets late. Check park hours for exact times of opening and closing.

Don’t miss the gift shop and café near the main entrance.

Marin French Cheese | © Michelle Sarmenta
Marin French Cheese | © Michelle Sarmenta

Marin French Cheese, Petaluma, CA

Established in 1865, Marin French Cheese is located on picturesque Hicks Valley Ranch in Petaluma, California, about 30 minutes from Point Reyes Seashore. It’s a great place to visit if you want to eat delicious cheese, have a picnic, and do some shopping. They have a well-stocked store with a wide selection of cheese, including classics like Triple Cream Brie and Camembert, and unique varieties like Schloss, an Austrian-style cheese similar to brie but with a more pungent flavor, or Petite Breakfast, an unripened brie with a creamy flavor that Marin French Cheese has been making since the 1800s. Many of their cheeses have received awards.

This fun store has more than just cheese. They sell cheese boards, knives, and other accessories, along with jams, chutneys, preserves, bread, and wine. If visitors would like to pick up a sandwich and soup for their picnic, they have a deli counter too.

After shopping, step outside into the sunshine and enjoy a lakeside picnic. There are tables, but guests often bring blankets to spread out on the grass. There’s lots of space to wander around and beautiful hillside landscapes to view in the distance.

Michelle Sarmenta