Day Tripper’s Guide: thru West Marin and Sonoma County

Sonoma Marin CoastPART I.

 No planes, no airports, no trains, no baggage and best of all no JET LAG when you enter the “Ireland” of Northern California. Grassy-green hills, misty-foggy climate, raging waves, sculptured- rocky coastlines mixed with Dairy farms and Oyster shacks line this desolate and unpopulated part of West Marin and Sonoma County.

Within an hour’s drive from San Francisco, small communities like: Rancho Nicasio, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Inverness, Tamales Bay, Bodega Bay, Petaluma, and Marshall will charm the (hiking) socks off you.  Springtime is the ideal season to admire the lush floral colors and green landscape. However, most days cast heavy fog, which sets the tone for typical Northern California weather.

Jumpstart your Day in Point Reyes Station

The epicenter of Point Reyes Station starts with a trip to the Bovine Bakery.  The muffins, scones, pastries, and desserts are not only massive in size but big on taste. Bovine Bakery is hugely popular with the locals, the tourists, and the hundreds of cyclists that descend on this sweet and savory nirvana.

Next stop, Toby’s Coffee Bar, located across the street from the Bovine Bakery inside the 70+ year old Toby’s Feed Barn. Their Espresso and Coffee rivals beloved Cafes in San Francisco.

PhotoGrid_1366824376277

Toby's Coffee Bar (Point Reyes Station)

Guru Tips:

  • Stroll through this old Railroad Town and peruse through the Main Street shops, galleries, and a Saturday Farmer’s Market (during the summer months).

  • Is any trip complete to Point Reyes without a visit to Cowgirl Creamery? Pack a picnic or eat in their quaint backyard garden.  Don’t forget to sample and purchase some of the finest cheeses made in the United States.

  • For fine dining in a casual setting, head over to Osteria Stellina for lunch or dinner.  With the local farms and ranches located practically in their backyard, this southern-style Italian restaurant is the true definition of locally sourced, farm fresh, and organic food. This is a restaurant that can satisfy even the toughest of food critics.

  • If you aren’t going to Point Reyes Station, then stop at the town of Inverness’ Busy Bee Bakery for “the goods”. They make you feel right at home with their charming decor, homemade breakfast treats, and desserts. Also, Perry’s Deli is a popular place to pick up sandwiches for a picnic to enjoy on the trails or at the beach.

Raspberry Pecan Cinnamon Roll

Raspberry Pecan Cinnamon Roll
(Bovine Bakery)

Chocolate Croissant (Bovine Bakery)

Chocolate Croissant
(Bovine Bakery)

Fresh Oysters:

Besides the scenery, outdoor activity, cheeses, and endless farm and ranch land, perhaps what this area is most known for is it’s fresh oysters. GET THERE EARLY!! Plan on waiting to get your food and a place to sit.

 

Guru Tips:

Hiking Trails:

Probably the best place to start and research hiking excursions is at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.  There is a plethora of hiking trails that take you over mountains, through the woods, on top of the bluffs, by the ranches, and along the edge of the bay or ocean. The rangers can arm you with the perfect hike and map to get those feet hitting the trails.

Tule Elk

Tomales Point Trail

Tomales Point Trail

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guru Tips:

  • What should you bring on your journey to the great outdoors year round? Wear and bring layers, rain jacket/poncho or waterproof gear, plenty of water, hiking shoes, snacks, and a full stomach for a long hike. Extra change of clothes is recommended.
  • Here’s the dirt on Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Trails: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm

  • Some of our favorite hiking trails:  Arch Rock via Bear Valley (13.1 km / 8.2 mi.) Tomales Point Trail to Windy Gap (3.2 km / 2 mi.), Chimney Rock Trail (2.5 km / 1.6 mi.), and Mt. Wittenberg and Sky Camp from Limantour Road (6.9 km / 4.3 mi.). You can’t go wrong on any hike in this area!

Kayaking Trips:

There are several places to kayak, such as: Tomales Bay, Drake’s Bay, and Bodega Bay.  Most of these trips are several hours long and can easily fill up your day.  Each of these bays offer unique environments for wildlife and scenery.

 Guru Tips:

  • A valuable and informative website with all the suggestions needed to plan a Kayaking Journey: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/kayak.htm

  • These trips tend to come with guides, and they will help you become an expert kayaker in no time.

  • Bring layers of clothing (to shed), a secure hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, snacks, and lunch because these trips can last for hours.

  • Kayaking tours come with all the necessary equipment (including waterproofing gear).

  • This is the tour we used, and I highly recommend it: http://www.bwkayak.com.

  • I have always wanted to do this tour and have it on our “to do list”: Bioluminescence Paddle Tour.  Check out the site for more details: http://www.bwkayak.com/FullMoonSunsetTours.html

To truly appreciate and enjoy day tripping through this California-version of Ireland, you may need to schedule additional days/weekend trips.  Such a trip will leave you satisfied and knackered (Irish for exhausted).

Next week’s Blog: “Day Trippers Guide: Cheese Touring Thru West Marin and Sonoma County.”

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