I recently took some time off traveling and studying to move back to San Francisco. As the city where I grew up, and a major tech hub, it’s a favorite place of mine when I’m trying to relax or get a bit of real work done for my startup job.
But before I set off for my next adventure in Berlin, I wanted to take a quick break to revisit some of my favorite places. What this meant was convincing my girlfriend to drive me up the PCH to Point Reyes for a weekend in the Marin Headlands.
If you ever find yourself in the Bay Area and you’re looking to spend some time out of the city, then this trip is definitely for you. Point Reyes is known for its absolutely fabulous waterfronts, oysters, wineries, and so much more, and is a great way to enjoy a bit more of the natural beauty of the Bay Area.
So without further introduction, here is my quick guide to spending a weekend in Point Reyes:
Where to stay
There first thing you should know is that good housing options tend to fill up FAST, so if you’re looking to spend the night in a nice cozy location, definitely plan well in advance. Although there are some inns and hotels in Point Reyes Station, I tend to look for something a bit more homey. There are excellent options for cabin rentals in the area, from reasonably priced and dog friendly to high end luxury experiences.
There are also some truly special AirBnB locations to look into. But by far, my top recommendation is the Abalone Inn. It’s right near the iconic Point Reyes beached ship, and is out of the way enough to be a quiet, romantic place to stay while still being only a short drive from most of the local points of interest.
While it may not look like much (its website definitely doesn’t do it justice), it’s an excellent bargain. The rooms are comfortable and homey, and the outdoor hot tub is a true gem. The inn is set up on a small orchard filled with quiet nooks to read a book or relax, and at night, the trees are strung with lights, giving the whole place a very surreal quality. The service is kind and helpful, but respectful of guests’ privacy, and the breakfast baskets are full of fresh eggs and fruit.
The only drawback to this location is that it isn’t dog friendly, so you’ll have to leave your best friend at home.
What to do
Point Reyes has something for everybody! From outdoorsy adventures to luxury relaxation, Point Reyes can be enjoyed at any price level. Popular activities include standup paddle boarding or kayaking on the water, hiking, wine tasting, and more. Here are my favorite more off the beaten path recommendations:
Heidrun Meadery: This place is truly magical. If you’ve never had mead before, it’s essentially wine made from fermented honey and carbonated to give it a champagne-like quality. It’s a very unique experience that sets these tastings apart from anything you’ll find in Napa or Sonoma for sure.
Their tastings are dog friendly, and they have lovely patio tables set up underneath a willow tree whose leaves reach down to the ground. It’s incredibly private and very romantic, and the shade combined with the ice cold mead is a great way too cool off and feel refreshed.
The meadery also offers tours, which I definitely recommend. They’ll show you how all the meads are made, explain where all the different flavors come from, and let you sample their most popular batches. It’s quite a treat! You can expect to spend about 1.5-2 hours here.
Arabian Adventures- If you have any interest in horseback riding, please use this service! It’s run by a wonderful British woman who rescues horses from tour agencies who have been mistreating them, rehabilitates them, and initiates them into her humane horseback riding experience. The animals are well taken care of, never overworked, and taken out on regular adventures to enjoy the space without riders. The amount of care the staff there has for the horses is truly phenomenal.
Not only will you get to ride horses along one of the most scenic trails in the area, you’ll also learn about the horses and get to work with them to master a few basic tricks. It’s a great time! You can expect to spend about 2 hours here.
Remember to wear long pants, as you won’t be able to ride without them!
Visit the Inkwells- This one is down Sir Francisc Drake Blvd a ways, so it’s a short drive away from Point Reyes proper, but it’s a great way to cool off on a hot day. The inkwells are a series of small waterfalls and deep swimming holes near the local salmon spawning areas. Bay Area residents come here to bask in the sun and jump into the water from the rocks. I’m always stunned by the heights from which people will jump. It’s very dog friendly, and great for throwing back a few beers and relaxing.
A word of warning, the water here is COLD. Definitely swimmable, but quite a shock for people jumping in for the first time. It’s also a very kid friendly location, with great shallow areas for people who aren’t strong swimmers. I usually spend about 3-5 hours here.
Walk to Abbott’s Lagoon- Also a bit out of the way, this is a very worthwhile trip for those with the time to do it. Abbott’s lagoon is a wildlife conservation area full of wildflowers and small animals. The walk starts right along the highway and quickly becomes a beautiful stroll across wooden decks surrounded by exotic flowers. It lets out in the actual lagoon, where there is a small beach and a few sand dunes to play in. It can be a nice relaxing walk, and is a must see for nature lovers. You can expect to spend about 1.5-2 hours here.
Where to eat
Point Reyes is full of awesome food. The seafood here is absolutely to die for, and you’ll end up kicking yourself if you don’t try at least a few fresh Drake’s Bay oysters. That being said, there are a few local gems that you should definitely try.
The Marshall Store-This is a dog-friendly deck where you can order all types of baked and raw oysters. It’s a great alternative to the famous Hog Island oyster restaurant, which is so overcrowded that it recently became reservation-only. It’s about an eight-mile drive from Point Reyes Station and features awesome outdoor seating on the water.
I highly recommend the baked Rockefeller oysters. They comes with spinach, garlic and cheese! All of their oyster plates also come with garlic bread! Definitely take advantage of the alcohol friendly environment to have a Corona or too with your meal. You should expect to spend 1-1.5 hours here, and for oysters and drinks for two, you’ll pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $50.
Osteria Stellina- This is a Michellin-rated restaurant in Point Reyes Station that is simply to die for. Seriously, I can’t even recommend one dish because they’re all so good. It’s definitely on the pricier side, but not outrageous for what you’re getting. Great atmosphere for casual or romantic evenings, awesome menu, and great service. I recommend coming here and splitting an entrée over some candle light and sharing some classy conversation before heading back home to get wine drunk.