Explore San Francisco

Point Reyes

Jutting precariously into the ocean about an hour north of San Francisco, Point Reyes is a natural masterpiece. The beautifully verdant cape is a popular destination for hikers, sea kayakers and outdoor adventurers. Stunning views attract people and beasts alike: elephant seals migrate here in the winter, gray whales swim by January through April, and the park is home to nearly 500 bird species. Sunbathers, however, need not apply since the peninsula owes its dramatic vistas to the thick fog that blankets the area for most of the year (maybe that’s why John Carpenter chose the local lighthouse as a backdrop for his 1980 thriller, “The Fog”). Its natural state is a tribute to former President John F. Kennedy, who declared that the peninsula should be saved as a national treasure and set aside nearly 80,000 acres for public use. Visit Point Reyes Station, home to the biggest commercial district with lodging, restaurants and shops, and named after the railroad that ran through for nearly 60 years.

You simply can’t visit Point Reyes and not have oysters. They’re a must here, where oyster farms aplenty dot the coastline. Favorite spots include Hog Island, where you can watch a working aqua-culture farm in action while you shuck, grill and picnic on Tomales Bay (20215 Hwy. 1, 415.663.9218, www.hogislandoysters.com); Drakes Bay (17171 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., 415.669.1149, www.drakesbayfamilyfarms.com), and locals’ favorite, The Marshall Store—slow down on Highway 1, 15 minutes north of Point Reyes Station, or you’ll miss it (9225 Hwy. 1, 415.663.1339, www.themarshallstore.com).

In 1997, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith began their local, artisan cheese business. Thirteen years later, they continue their great success. Stop by Cowgirl Creamery’s beautifully revamped barn, belly up to the cheese counter and taste their small collection of artisan cheeses, as well as cheeses from over 200 of America’s and Europe’s most prized producers. Don’t miss Cowgirl’s Mt. Tam, a smooth triple-cream, or the winter seasonal Pierce Point, washed in muscato wine and rolled in dried herbs. Tours at 11:30 am Fridays, $5. 80 Fourth St., 415.663.9335, www.cowgirlcreamery.com

Since opening its doors a year and a half ago, Osteria Stellina has swiftly risen to become a nationally recognized culinary destination. Renowned for its strictly local and seasonal cuisine, Stellina showcases West Marin’s finest produce, meats, cheeses and seafood. Nearly every ingredient is sourced from one of the surrounding region’s bounty of farmers, ranchers and fisherman.11285 Hwy 1, 415.663.9988, osteriastellina.com

Point Reyes is located approximately 30 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 1. www.pointreyes.org