Seashore Secrets

After a recent trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California native Laurel Kellner drafted a list of local favorites for IT. She writes:

The scenery is gorgeous from Novato to Point Reyes Station, the gateway to the park. En route, don’t miss the cheese factory on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road. Offering a divine selection of locally made cheeses, it’s well worth the stop. At the entrance to Point Reyes Station a sign reads "Population 350," but the town is far from sleepy—especially on summer weekends when the farmers market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For freshly-baked bread, pastries, and other goodies, move on to Bovine Bakery located on State Route 1, the main drag in Point Reyes Station. Crowded all day, the bakery serves coffee and home-baked pastries; it’s a required stop for locals, day tourists, and diehard mountain bikers. In true California fashion, a variety of vegan options are available—try the dairy-free whole-wheat scone. (Note: Baked goods are half-off for the half-hour before closing at 5 p.m.). Sip your coffee next door at Point Reyes Books and peruse new, used, rare and local finds. Get your hippie fix at Tara Thralls Tie Dye Designs, offering everything from original T-shirts to full body "union suits." The store is open weekends and, according to the sign, "Weekdays by appointment at 1-800-MOM-TARA."

Of course, the main reason to visit Point Reyes Seashore is for the beaches. Depending on your mood, I have a favorite to suit you:

Best beach for tanning—Heart’s Desire (part of Tomales Bay State Park) is on the bay side of the Point Reyes Peninsula. Offering seclusion from ocean winds, it’s perfect for picnics and soaking up the sun. Plus, it’s safe for kids to wade into the shallow, lapping waves, which are reminiscent of the Mediterranean.

Best beach for surfing—Bolinas: You’ll need a wetsuit for the 50-degree water, but it’s the best spot for catching waves and a bit of local flavor. Among the surfers ambling down the street in this "Venice Beach of the North," you may spot a local in a leopard suit––complete with whiskers. The local museum in this quirky town hosts original art and photography exhibits.

Best beach for kite flying—Kehoe seems to stretch forever with all-in-one-bliss: sand dunes, sea stacks, and starfish.

Best beach for long walks—Limantour: You’re likely to run into a pod of harbor seals that bask regularly on the sand bar where the lagoon meets the ocean (two miles north of where the parking lot trailhead hits the beach). Pooch in tow? Dogs are allowed on the southern half of the beach.

To get you in the mood for all this long walking, IT suggests you visit the Point Reyes National Seashore webcam, where you’ll see a live view of Point Reyes Beach. Or check out "Quiet, Please" by Howard Norman in Traveler‘s May/June print issue.

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