The Best Things to Do in Point Reyes: What to Do & See
Point Reyes National Seashore is a relatively hidden gem tucked away on the California Coast just north of San Francisco. It has rolling golden hills with long, never-ending beaches, a charming downtown area full of great food and drinks, and you might even find some elk!
If you’re wondering what to do in Point Reyes, you’re in the right place. It’s one of our favorite day trips from San Francisco, but there are plenty of things to do and see to fill a weekend if you have more time.
Here are the best things to do in Point Reyes according to Alysha, who grew up about 30 minutes away from Point Reyes, and Matt, who’s along for the ride in this case.
Read Next: 16 Charming Places to Stay in Point Reyes
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The Best Things to Do in Point Reyes: What to Do & The Best Things to See
Whether you’re looking to hike, or eat and drink your way through the area, you’ve got plenty of options in this part of coastal California.
Hiking Near Point Reyes: Amazing Trails Along the Coast
There are some fantastic hikes in Point Reyes to add to your list. You’ll find sweeping coastal views from the crests of the coastal hills in the area, and even a waterfall on the beach if you’re willing to put in the effort to get there!
Here are four of our favorites.
Chimney Rock Trail (1.6 miles, Easy)
This short and easy hike is VERY popular because it’s probably the best effort:reward ratio in Point Reyes. It’s short, relatively flat, and the views of the coastline are nothing short of spectacular.
More trail information here.
Bear Valley + Sky Trail (6.9 miles, easy/moderate)
This is a relatively easy hike through the forest that has points where it opens up to views of the coastline to the north and south. It’s pretty flat, so it’s not a difficult hike by any means.
It leaves from the Bear Valley Visitors Center, where you’ll take the Mount Wittenberg trail, getting up to the top for views down the coast, and then circling back on the flat bear valley trail to end the hike.
More trail information here.
Tomales Point (9.5 miles, Moderate/Hard)
This trail is at the northern part of Point Reyes National Seashore, and meanders through the Tule elk preserve on its way to stunning coastal views from the peaks and valleys of the rolling hills over the beach below.
More trail information here.
Alamere Falls (11 miles, Hard)
This is one of the best hikes in Northern California, but it’s not an easy one. Mostly because it’s around 13 miles long, though the elevation gain isn’t crazy at 1,600 feet.
Starting from the Palomarin trailhead at the south end of the National Seashore, you’ll follow the Coast Trail past Bass Lake and then you’ll descend to the beach, with a view of Alamere Falls cascading onto the sandy beach. It’s super unique, and is well worth the effort.
More trail information here.
Explore Point Reyes Station
Point Reyes Station is essentially one street – Highway 1 – running through the small town. That street is lined with shops of all kinds, from local boutiques to a feed store; you’ll run the gamut here in Point Reyes.
Here are some of our favorite spots in the town itself.
Bovine Bakery: One of Alysha’s favorites, and whenever Matt is out of town she somehow finds a way to make it here. When the Matt is away, the Alysha will
play eat delicious pastries. Battle the cyclists for a spot in the ever-present line to get some handmade pastries, like bear claws and croissants, among other things.
Cowgirl Creamery: Probably the most famous cheese from California – you’ll find them at the Ferry Building in San Francisco too, which is a must stop on any San Francisco itinerary. We’ve even seen them as far north as Washington, and as far east as Colorado! Visit their Creamery Barn Shop & Cantina in Point Reyes to try some cheese, pick up supplies for a picnic, or lunch.
Point Reyes Farmers Market (Saturdays in the summer, 9am – 1pm): We’re guessing you probably noticed the farmland in every direction as you drove into Point Reyes. Explore the bounty of fresh produce at the Farmers Market on Saturdays in the summer. It’s right outside Toby’s Feed Barn on the main stretch of town.
Toby’s Coffee Bar: The best coffee in Point Reyes, tucked just inside Toby’s Feed Barn. It’s worth poking around the shop, from unique gifts to local produce and gardening supplies you never know what treasures you might find at Toby’s.
Point Reyes Books: A charming little bookstore along the main drag near Bovine. SUPPORT LOCAL BOOKSTORES.
Take a Cheese Tour
Did someone say cheese? I think Alysha’s ears just perked up.
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. is just north of Point Reyes Station on the east side of Tomales Bay. They do farm tours and cheese tastings where you’ll learn all about their farm, and how they make cheese. We know them for their fantastic blue cheese, but they make all kinds of different cheeses, including a delicious-looking truffle cheese that I can’t wait to get my hands on.
Click here to learn more about their tours and tastings.
It’s also worth stopping by Nicasio Cheese on the way to or from Point Reyes. They make our favorite cheese of all time – Foggy Morning – and have a wide range of cheeses at their small tasting room. Here’s the route to stop by on the way home.
Barbecue Some Fresh-Caught Oysters
Ever wonder why you see oysters everywhere in San Francisco and the wider Bay Area? It’s because they’re harvested locally! The shallow water of Tomales Bay is a perfect place to find oysters. There are a couple places along the eastern edge of Tomales Bay to buy and eat oysters.
First is Hog Island Oyster Co, whose farm on Tomales Bay has been around since 1983. They have a full-service cafe and an “oyster window” if you’d rather grab some oysters to go and make a picnic out of it.
They have “shuck your own picnic” tables outside with views of the bay, which is a great place to bring some wine, cheese, and buy some oysters to barbecue in the sun (or fog and bone-chilling wind)!
You can take an hour long farm tour where you learn all about oyster farming. Click here to learn more.
Tomales Bay Oyster Company is the oldest operating shellfish company in the area – they’ve been around since 1909! It’s another good option for oysters and a picnic in the area. They don’t have an onsite picnic area, but you can take your oysters to go and find a spot on one of the many beaches in Point Reyes to plop down and eat them.
Alysha isn’t a huge fan of oysters (it’s the texture), but for some reason, all is good when they’re barbecued! Highly recommend it, especially when sprinkled with fresh lemon!
Planning a Trip to California? We’ve got plenty of California travel guides to help you plan an amazing trip.
- 3 Days in San Francisco: A Complete Long Weekend Itinerary
- 14 Incredible Day Trips from San Francisco
- How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Los Angeles (2 Day Itinerary)
- How to Spend One Amazing Day in Los Angeles (2 Ways!)
- The Best Places to Stay in Los Angeles (An L.A. Local’s Guide)
- A Perfect Weekend Itinerary For San Diego (2 Days)
- How to Spend One Amazing Day in San Diego
- Where to Stay in San Diego: A Complete Guide from a Local
- A Complete Joshua Tree Itinerary (Weekend Guide)
- A Complete Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide (SF to SD)
Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse
The Point Reyes Lighthouse, which was built in 1870 and helped ships navigate around the Point Reyes Headlands, is no longer a working lighthouse. But you can still visit with a drive and a short hike!
You’ll have to walk down 300+ stairs to get there – the equivalent of 20+ stories – which will mean you have to climb them on the way back.
Inside, you’ll find an exhibit teaching you about the lighthouse’s history, and sometimes you’ll be able to peek at the Fresnel lens (usually Friday – Monday in the afternoon) that allows the light to travel from the lighthouse to the eyes of passing sailors.
Take the Perfect Picture in the Cypress Tree Tunnel
The only reason I know about this place is following all of the Bay Area photographers on Instagram.
The cypress trees here have grown into a tunnel over the road along the way out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, and it’s a pretty unique spot that I’m not sure you can find anywhere else in the world.
It’s worth stopping by, but be prepared for crowds. Please park in the designated parking lot, NOT along the side of the road.
See the Point Reyes Shipwreck
Just north of Point Reyes Station on the western side of Tomales Bay, you’ll find a small slice of California history in the form of a beached ship.
This stretch of coast, like the Oregon Coast, is notoriously hard to navigate.
There are TONS of shipwrecks up and down the coast (you can see a map of them all here), but most have washed away over the years. There’s one in particular on Tomales Bay that is a well-known destination for local photographers – the S.S. Point Reyes.
Here’s a good read about how it became so famous. And also how it’s not actually a real shipwreck, more of a planned restoration that was forgotten.
You can find it here on Google Maps.
Hit the Beach
First of all, when we say “hit the beach,” please don’t expect Southern California-style sandy beaches with warm temperatures and cold, but not too cold water.
The beaches at Point Reyes, like most of the beaches in Northern California, are more likely than not going to be cold, windy, and foggy. Except in the late spring and early fall, when you have a better chance of getting a warm sunny day.
Even then, you might get a day where it’s not so pleasant to lay out on the beach, it totally depends. Either way, the beaches are still beautiful and nice for a quiet beach walk.
Here are a couple of beaches to check out in the area.
- Kehoe Beach: Our favorite beach. It involves a little hike, but it has some of the nicest sand. And less people. And allows dogs. It’s out on the way to Tomales Point.
- Limantour Beach: This is probably our favorite beach at Point Reyes. It’s long and narrow, and dogs are allowed on a leash.
- Drake’s Beach: Long stretch of beach that backs up onto white sandstone cliffs. Bring a bottle of wine and a picnic blanket (and maybe some oysters) and make an afternoon of it!
- Heart’s Desire Beach: Rather than being on the Pacific Ocean, this beach is on Tomales Bay’s western side. Still, it’s a gorgeous sandy beach. Parking is limited, and it’s a popular spot, particularly on weekends. Get there early! $8 parking fee.
Try Some Mead
We recently discovered Heidrun Meadery, which is a small operation just outside of Point Reyes Station that makes mead, which is essentially wine, but made with honey rather than grapes. Now, every mead I’ve ever tried has usually been super sweet, which is not our cup of tea… or mead for that matter. So when I saw “mead” I thought “sure, I’ll try it, but it’s probably not going to be great.”
Fast forward to post-Heidrun, who makes a sparkling mead in the traditional French Methode Champenoise, and I think I’m in love. If you know us, you know that we love cider. And mead is very similar to cider, at least in our brief experience with it.
Head out to Heidrun’s farm, a converted dairy farm that is now basically heaven for bees, for a flight of their meads. It’s a fun alternative to wine tasting, and you’ll learn all about mead and how it’s made.
How to Get to Point Reyes National Seashore from San Francisco
Drive north on Highway 101 across the Golden Gate Bridge for 12 miles and exit at the Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Wind through the valleys of West Marin until you reach Highway 1, where you’ll take a right to go to Point Reyes Station and Tomales Bay.
And, almost immediately to the left after turning onto Highway 1 will be a road to the Bear Valley Visitors Center, which is the trailhead for some of the best hikes in Point Reyes.
Point Reyes National Seashore is a special place, and we hope you love it as much as we do. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, a quiet small town getaway, or some of the best food and drinks in Marin, you can find it in Point Reyes. I mean, where else can you eat freshly caught oysters fresh off the barbecue washed down with locally-made mead?
Heading up to Point Reyes for a weekend getaway from San Francisco? Don’t miss our guide to the best places to stay in Point Reyes!
Plan an Unforgettable California Adventure
Heading to California? We’ve got all sorts of super detailed, in-depth California travel guides written by locals to help you plan an amazing trip.
- San Francisco: We’ve got a guide to spending 3 days in SF, one day in San Francisco for planning a shorter trip, and a complete guide to finding the perfect place to stay in San Francisco. We also have guides to 14 perfect weekend getaways from San Francisco and the best day trips in the Bay Area. Oh, we almost forgot, here are the 15 best hikes near San Francisco, written by two Bay Area locals.
- Los Angeles: Read our perfect 2 Day L.A. itinerary, our guide to spending one amazing day in L.A. (with two versions!), and a guide to helping you figure out where to stay.
- San Diego: Learn how to spend a day in San Diego, a weekend in San Diego, and where you should stay.
- Lake Tahoe: Plan the perfect summertime adventure with our 3 day Tahoe itinerary, guide to the best hikes, and our guide to the best things to do in Tahoe.
- Santa Barbara: We have a guide to planning a weekend in Santa Barbara, and a guide to a day trip to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles if you’re pressed for time.
- Mammoth Lakes: To plan a perfect getaway in the Eastern Sierra, read our guide to the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes in the summer. Plus, our guide to the best hikes in Mammoth, featuring the epic climb to the top of Duck Pass.
- Big Sur: Plan the perfect weekend away with our complete Big Sur itinerary.
- Yosemite National Park: Plan an amazing trip with our guide to planning an amazing Yosemite itinerary, and our guide to choosing where to stay at Yosemite.
- Joshua Tree National Park: Plan the perfect trip with our perfect weekend itinerary (or a day trip, if you have less time), a guide to the best hikes, and some cool places to stay in Joshua Tree.
- Death Valley National Park: We have a SUPER detailed guide to planning the perfect Death Valley itinerary, and a guide to the best hikes in Death Valley National Park.
- California Road Trips: See the best of the Pacific Coast Highway on our San Francisco to San Diego road trip, or make the trip up Highway from on a Los Angeles to SanFrancisco road trip. If you’re more into mountains than beaches, a Highway 395 road trip from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe might be more your speed.