Within minutes of driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and leaving famous San Francisco, you find yourself surrounded by some of the most serene nature in California. Wind your way through picturesque Marin County to an old-growth redwood forest at Muir Woods, then continue down to the classic coastal town of Stinson Beach for a quick cup of coffee to warm up in the fog.
Next, head to Point Reyes National Seashore to see incredible ocean views and wild life ranging from tule elk to whales migrating up the coast. After you’ve worked up an appetite, be sure to stop in for some fresh farmed oysters from Tomales Bay in Marshall. This road trip through West Marin will keep you refreshed for weeks.
Named after naturalist John Muir, whose environmental worked helped establish the National Park System, Muir Woods National Monument is an old-growth coastal redwood forest that is a site not to be missed. With trees dating between 500-800 years old and one that is even 1,200 years old, these towering beauties are known for their height of well over 200’ tall. Meander on the pathways or hike up the unpaved trails to get a closer look at these giants and take some time to reflect on this incredible environment
Stinson Beach and Point Reyes Station
Sporting one of the cleanest beaches in the state, Stinson Beach is a popular destination for San Franciscans and tourists alike. Although Stinson is often shrouded in fog, the laid back tiny town sports a few quaint shops and restaurants that will make a perfect place to stop off on your road trip and warm up with a coffee or hot cocoa. For an adventure, hit up a local surf shop, put on a wet suit and head down to catch some waves in the Pacific Ocean. Just north of Stinson along Highway 1 is another small town called Point Reyes Station. This once railway depot is the perfect spot to load up on picnic supplies before you head to Point Reyes National Seashore. Don’t miss some local favorites like cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, or the farmers market (on Saturday mornings, late June through November.)
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore is a outdoorsman’s paradise. This peninsula was formed when the San Andreas Fault sunk a portion of land now known as Tomales Bay. The over 70,000 acre park is home to wild coastal beaches, headlands, estuaries, and uplands. It is also a natural habitat for a wide variety of species including tule elk, raptors, shore birds, and elephant seals. Even whale watchers flock to the lighthouse to look for the Gray Whale that migrates south in mid-January and back north in mid-March. With 3 visitor centers, scenic drives, deserted beaches and miles of trails it’s not surprising many can spend several hours if not days exploring this peninsula. However you spend your time at Point Reyes National Seashore, be sure to take out your pencil and sketch a few scenes from your visit – perhaps a leaf, an insect, or an animal you spot, or else a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean. Regardless of what you choose, there will definitely be no shortage of inspiration.
Tomales Bay and Marshall
Tomales Bay is a narrow inlet separating Point Reyes Peninsula from the California coastline. It’s hard to believe that one of the most infamous earthquake falultines in the world, the San Andreas Fault, lies underneath this tranquil bay. But what seems Tomales Bay seems to be best known for is it’s fresh oysters farmed daily. The 2 largest oyster companies also have popular picnic spots to gather with friends and snack on freshly barbequed oysters while sipping a cool glass of local wine. Rent a kayak and make your way along the water front to see for yourself the beauty of this bay. Take a moment or two to sketch a few of the scenes you pass by. From cows and dairy farms to wild animals and marine life, your time on the bay will be unforgettable.