Monday, April 17, 2017

Exploring Point Reyes National Seashore: A roundup of my favorite spots

With spring finally here, and the promise of warmer weather on the horizon, I wanted to put together a roundup of our favorite spots in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Despite living in the Bay Area for most of my life, it wasn't until just over 2 years ago that we actually made a trip to the Point Reyes area. If you haven't been, then now is the time to go! It's one of my personal happy places and we have literally never had anything short of an amazing experience on our visits.

Abbott's Lagoon

I'm starting the list off with Abbott's Lagoon because spring is the absolute perfect time of year to go. We visited on Mother's Day weekend a couple of years ago and I can still see the rolling green hills and perfectly blue water of the lagoon as if I were there now. I'm sure it's beautiful year round, but the contrast of colors in the springtime makes for a really special trip. From the parking lot, there is an easy 1.5 mile hike out to the sand dunes and lagoon. I suggest packing a picnic and making a day out of it! You can read all about our trip here.

Limantour Beach

Limantour was our first taste of West Marin and started what has become a clear love affair between me and this part of the Bay Area. As soon as I saw pictures of the rugged sandstone cliffs, I knew this had to be part of our first trip to the area! It has been a recurring realization since I started this blog just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful state! So pack up a picnic lunch or treat yourself to something tasty from Cowgirl Creamery and make your way to Limantour! You can read all about our trip here.

Tule Elk Preserve

Our trip to the Tule Elk Preserve is proof that you can't have a bad day in Point Reyes. We visited in late October and had misty weather and a sky of clouds that almost completely blocked out the ocean views on our coastal hike. Did it matter? Nope! Our kids were ecstatic to be exploring the old barn at Pierce Point Ranch and then continuing on our search for Tule Elk. On the weekends there are docents at the trail head as well as about 1 mile into the hike that are happy to engage the kids with elk horns and binoculars. You can read all about our trip here.

Heart's Desire Beach

My kids LOVE spending the day at the beach, but the rough ocean waters here in Northern California are not always ideal for young kids. One of my favorite beach trips to Point Reyes was Heart's Desire Beach, which sits in a small alcove on the Tomale's Bay side of the National Seashore. Here, you get to enjoy a beautiful sand beach with the relatively calm waters of the bay, all while nestled in a forested alcove (which also provides nice protection from the wind!). Despite being a fairly popular destination, the calming scenery makes you feel as though you're the only one there. You can read all about our trip here.

Point Reyes Lighthouse/Drakes Beach

This trip requires an extra 45 minutes of driving past Point Reyes Station, which for a very long time meant that we opted for other destinations in Point Reyes. I am happy to report that we finally made it out to the lighthouse this past winter and it was well worth the drive! The Point Reyes Lighthouse is a prime spot for whale watching from late December to mid April, and Drakes beach is a picturesque spot for some fun in the sand that is just a few miles down the road. On our trip we saw deer, whales and even watched as an elephant seal rode the waves in and settled on the beach about 100 yards from us! I highly recommend a mid-week visit towards the end of December before prime tourist season when you are required to take a shuttle out to the lighthouse.   You can read all about our trip here.

Tomales and Dillon Beach

Just 17 miles north of Point Reyes Station is the small town of Tomales. The town, despite only spanning one intersection, is a good stopping point to get some coffee/pastries and a nice lunch. It's also conveniently location a short drive to Dillon Beach. We had a wonderful stay this past holiday season at Toluma Farms, which has a beautiful home for rent that is perfect for large family gatherings. If you are visiting the area, the farm also offers tours with reservation. Read more about our visit to Tomales here.

Samuel Taylor Park

While not technically in the Point Reyes National Seashore,  Samuel Taylor Park is a great option for those looking for affordable lodging in the area. They offer both traditional camping sites as well as cabin camping options that are perfect for those looking for a less rustic experience. The cabins, which were built in 2012, come equipped with electricity, platform bunk beds with mattresses, wood floors, covered porches, and a small electric stove. There are 4 bunks (one full size mattress and three single beds) and the top bunks have rails, making them pretty safe for kids. All you have to bring is your bed linens and you are set! Read more about our visit to here.

Any suggestions for future trips?

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