Villages and dairy farms dot the Point Reyes area, some 40 miles north of San Francisco. The region beckons to anyone with a passion for country roads, breathtaking landscapes, and local foods.
The stunning Point Reyes National Seashore preserves forested ridges, dramatic headlands, and uncrowded beaches. Stop at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, a half mile west of Olema, for information on trails and the best places to spot tule elk and migrating gray whales. From the visitor center, the paved Earthquake Trail is an easy half-mile loop.
A 45-minute drive north from the center, noisy elephant seals loll about the beach near the Chimney Rock trailhead every December through March. During winter weekends and holidays, visitors must park at Drakes Beach and take the hop-on, hop-off $7 shuttle bus to Chimney Rock. (As of February 2019, shuttle bus operation is on hold until further notice.)