Need a deep breath in your busy life? A road trip to Tomales Bay is just the thing. The area indulges visitors with luscious cheese, migrating whales, moss-draped oaks, rolling green hills, salty-fresh oysters, and windswept seashore. Roughly 50 miles north of San Francisco, this slim, marshy inlet is surrounded by some of the most peaceful, stress-soothing scenery in Marin County—not to mention the whole of California.
Slow your pace in Point Reyes.
The de facto gateway to Tomales Bay, frontier town Point Reyes Station was once a major stop on the now-defunct North Pacific Railroad. These days, Point Reyes is home to the Tomales Bay Foods emporium, where you can shop for the picnic goods of your dreams, from fresh salads and local olives to still-warm loaves from neighboring Brickmaiden Breads. If you’re still not sated, stroll a block over to Toby’s Feed Barn, which sells yet more gourmet products, heirloom seeds, strong coffee to go, and even bales of hay.
Across the street from Toby’s, Cabaline Country Emporium & Saddlery (look for the horse’s head) is a general store where you’ll find everything from camping gear to an epic array of cowboy hats. For an even headier experience, browse the tomes at Point Reyes Books and appraise the local artwork, crafts, and jewelry at Leona’s.
To stretch your legs more than tiny downtown Point Reyes Station allows, head a mile north on Highway 1 to the Tomales Bay Trailhead. You’re likely to see Holstein cows and shorebirds—but dogs are not permitted—on this 2.5-mile loop, which leads to the marshy and often muddy Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve.
If you’re thirsty afterward, try a taste of the sparkling meads at nearby Heidrun Meadery, where you can also explore a buzzing bee garden. Back in town, carb-fuel the next leg of your journey with a stop at Bovine Bakery for hearty pastries, calzones, and pizza.