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Curated Guide to the Ultimate Point Reyes Day Trip : a weekend getaway in point reyes

Point Reyes, California

by Coco Tran On September 8, 2023

point reyes day trip
cypress tree tunnel Point Reyes

Looking to explore the rugged beauty of Point Reyes? Here is your ultimate curated guide to the perfect Point Reyes day trip to the National Seashore. This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know to plan the ultimate Point Reyes day trip from San Francisco or my hometown of Sacramento.

I’ve been visiting Point Reyes for years and it’s one of my favorite easy weekend escapes. With crashing Pacific waves, secluded beaches, lush green hills, and insane amounts of delicious oysters and cheese, it’s a must-visit just north of the city.

Grab your road trip snacks and let’s dive in! Here’s what I’ll cover:


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How to Get to Point Reyes for Your Day Trip

The drive from San Francisco to Point Reyes National Seashore takes just about 1 hour if you avoid traffic. Here are some tips for getting there:

  • Take Highway 1 North across the Golden Gate Bridge and through Marin County. The views are unreal!
  • Hang a left at Olema onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd to enter the national seashore. Look for signs.
  • Arrive early! Leave SF or Sac by 8 AM if you can to beat the crowds. The earlier the better.
  • Watch for bikers – the roads here are super twisty and narrow in parts. Take it slow and cautious.
  • Don’t forget gas and snacks! There aren’t many filling stations inside the park.

For A day trip to point Reyes here are driving directions to Point Reyes National Seashore from both Sacramento and San Francisco:

From Sacramento to point reyes:

  • Take I-80 West toward San Francisco
  • In Vallejo, take CA-37 W exit toward Napa/Sonoma
  • Take US-101 N to Novato/San Rafael
  • In Novato, take the CA-1 exit toward Point Reyes Station
  • Follow CA-1 approximately 45 miles to Point Reyes
  • Total drive time: 2 hours 20 minutes

From San Francisco to point reyes :

  • Head north across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Take the CA-1/Olema Bolinas exit toward Point Reyes
  • Follow CA-1 approximately 45 miles through Olema to Point Reyes
  • Just before Olema, look for signs directing you to the Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Total drive time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/point-reyes-day-trip/

The drive to Point Reyes on CA-1 from either city is incredibly scenic. From Sacramento, you’ll pass through wine country. From SF, enjoy views of the Marin Headlands and coast.

Drive carefully on the winding CA-1 road and watch for cyclists!Let me know if you need any other specifics on directions getting to Point Reyes National Seashore for your perfect California road trip!

The drive alone is half the fun with the rolling Marin hills dotted with cows, jaw-dropping Hwy 1 ocean views, and quaint small towns like Olema as you get close. Time to explore!

Point Reyes Day Trip Tour From San Francisco

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Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/point-reyes-day-trip/

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Is Point Reyes worth visiting?

Yes, Point Reyes National Seashore is absolutely worth visiting! Here’s why it makes for such an incredible trip:

Stunning natural beauty

  • Point Reyes has over 30,000 acres of pristine wilderness along the coast. It’s home to rugged ocean cliffs, secluded beaches, rolling green hills, forested ridges and abundant wildlife. The landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful.

Ranges from ocean to estuaries to forest

  • What’s amazing is the diversity of ecosystems. You can explore ocean overlooks, hike through evergreen forests, and kayak calm estuaries all in one place! It really shows off Northern California’s habitats.

Delicious food and drink

  • Point Reyes is renowned for its delicious oysters, artisan cheeses, fresh seafood, locally-sourced cuisine and excellent wine. Foodies will be in heaven exploring the area’s culinary offerings.

Proximity to San Francisco

  • At just over an hour’s drive from SF, Point Reyes makes for an easy and scenic day trip or weekend escape from the city. It feels a world away despite being so close.

Fun outdoor recreation

  • There are tons of amazing hiking trails, beautiful beaches, kayaking spots, and areas for wildlife viewing. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the options.

Charming small towns

  • Cute villages like Point Reyes Station and Inverness have locally-owned shops, galleries, and a lovely laidback vibe.

Historic Lighthouse and other sights

  • Don’t miss the iconic Point Reyes Lighthouse and other historic buildings that give a window into the area’s past.

In short – with its natural wonders, delicious food and drink, proximity to SF, and wealth of activities, Point Reyes offers an incredible Northern California escape! It’s a must-visit.

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/point-reyes-day-trip/

Point Reyes Weather

  • Point Reyes has a cool, coastal Mediterranean climate with foggy summers and mild, wet winters.
  • High temperatures average around 60-70°F year-round. Lows average 40-50°F.
  • It gets rain mostly from November to April. Rainfall averages 40 inches per year.
  • Dress in layers – the weather can change quickly!

Best Time to Visit Point Reyes

  • Spring (March-May) – Moderate temps, everything blooming, and wildlife babies being born. Less fog.
  • Early Fall (September-October) – Warm sunny days, fewer crowds, whales migrating by.
  • Winter (November-February) – Great for stormwatching. Elephant seal pupping/mating season.
  • Summer – Foggiest time but long days. Whales visible. Avoid holiday weekends.

What to Expect Each Season in Point Reyes National Seashore

  • Spring – Wildflowers, green hills, mild temps around 60°F. More rain in early spring.
  • Summer – Fog and cooler temps in the 50-60s. Whale watching season goes through October.
  • Fall – Sunny, clear days in the 60-70s. Leaves change colors in inland areas.
  • Winter – Cool, wet weather in the 40-50s. Storm watching and elephant seals on the beaches.

Top Things To Do in Point Reyes National Seashore

What to Do in Point Reyes

There are SO many amazing Point Reyes attractions and activities to fill your day trip. Here are some must-see highlights that I recommend for your Point Reyes Day Trip:

Point Reyes Day Trip : Point Reyes Itinerary

Stop 1: Check Out the Famous Point Reyes Shipwreck

Near the town of Inverness, you can see the remains of the S.S. Point Reyes shipwreck right on the beach. It’s become an iconic landmark to photograph and makes a quick 5-minute pitstop.

Just park off Sir Francis Drake Blvd at the little lot and walk the short trail down. You can’t go on the shipwreck itself since it’s not stable, but it’s cool to see up close with the ocean in the background.

Insider tip: It looks best at low tide when more of the wreck is visible! Check tide charts before you go.

Stop 2: Hike to Chimney Rock for Epic Ocean Views or Hike one of the epic point reyes hikes

One of my favorite short hikes in Point Reyes National Seashore is the 1 mile roundtrip Chimney Rock Trail. It’s moderately easy and takes about 20-40 minutes depending on your pace. Don’t miss it!

Best Things to in point reyes

The views from the overlook point at the end are just insane – we’re talking sweeping Pacific Ocean, Drakes Bay, and Point Reyes beaches down below. It’s one of the best panoramas in the park.

In spring, keep an eye out for dazzling wildflower blooms along the trail. In winter, you might spot elephant seals gathering on the beach hundreds of feet below!

If you’re feeling more adventurous go on a longer hike. Check out the Tomales Bay Point Trailhead.

See my list of of the 31 best hikes in point Reyes. 

To get there, park at the small lot near the Chimney Rock Trailhead off Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Bathrooms are available!

Stop 3: Visit the Historic Point Reyes Lighthouse

No trip to Point Reyes is complete without seeing the iconic cream-colored Point Reyes Lighthouse. It’s been guiding ships safely since 1870!

There is a small museum inside and you can climb 300 steps up the lighthouse for panoramic views of the peninsula. Definitely check ahead to see if the lighthouse is open during your visit as it does close sometimes for repairs.

point reyes lighthouse

The winding road down to it feels like you’re at the end of the world. If the timing works out, try to catch sunset here – it’s spectacular.

Don’t forget to look for whales too! The Point Reyes Lighthouse overlook is a prime whale-watching spot in California.

Stop 4: Drive Through the Dreamy Cypress Tunnel point Reyes

One of the most unique and best thing to do in point reyes is to witness the surreal Cypress Tree Tunnel located off Sir Francis Drake Blvd. It’s an Instagram-famous strip where you can walk under soaring, arched Monterey cypress trees.

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/point-reyes-day-trip/

Definitely come here on your Point Reyes day trip for magical photos. You can’t drive down the road itself anymore to protect the cypress roots, but you can park right outside and walk through the tunnel.

Early morning or golden hour is best for photography when light streams through the canopy. Pure magic! Note: The fog in Point Reyes is thick early. in the morning in the summer but it burns off by afternoon. 

Stop 5: Eat Oysters near Point Reyes at Hog Island Oyster Co. or Shuck your Own At Tomales Bay Oyster Company

No visit to Point Reyes is complete without stopping for oysters at the famous Hog Island Oyster Company. They sustainably farm some of the freshest, briniest oysters you’ll ever taste!

I highly recommend getting a picnic table reservation so you can shuck and grill oysters yourself right on the shore of Tomales Bay. If you elect to go to Tomales Bay Oyster Co,

just note: you can’t shuck and eat there. You can drive to the nearest land area and set up a picnic and enjoy your oysters by the bay. 

Be sure to pack a cooler (they will provide ice), shucking knife, shucking gloves, bread, wine, cheese, etc.  It’s an iconic Point Reyes Tomales Bay experience.

Stop 6: Explore the Quaint Town of Point Reyes Station

After a busy day adventuring, take an hour or two before heading home to wander charming Point Reyes Station. This little town has great locally-owned shops, galleries, cafes and more.

Be sure to stop by the Bovine Bakery for incredible pastries, sweets, and organic coffee. Everything is delicious!

We took our pups and picked up some cheese and coffee and pastries at the Bakery. Indeed , the bakery is cash only.

Other highlights are Heidrun Meadery for craft mead tastings, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. for cheese sampling, and live music nights at the Old Western Saloon.

Don’t miss the Point Reyes Station Farmer’s Market on Saturdays in the Toby’s Feed Barn parking lot from 9AM-1PM.

Tip: Many places are cash only, so come prepared!

When to Visit Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes makes for an incredible day trip year-round! Each season offers something unique:

  • Spring (March-May) – Lush green hills, blooming wildflowers, mild weather in the 60s.
  • Summer (June-August) – Sunny blue skies, warm weather (fog can roll in suddenly!).
  • Fall (September-November) – Mild temps, less crowds, whales start migrating by.
  • Winter (December-February) – Storm watching, elephant seal pupping season starts.

No matter when you visit, bring layers as the weather changes quickly! Early spring and fall tend to be less crowded.

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/point-reyes-day-trip/

Helpful Point Reyes Day Trip Planning Tips:

Here are some handy insider tips to make your Point Reyes adventure amazing:

  • Pack snacks and water! Dining options are limited inside the park.
  • Bring binoculars if you hope to spot whales or wildlife from trails.
  • Wear good hiking shoes for wet/muddy trails. And watch for poison oak!
  • Fill up your gas tank beforehand – stations inside the park are limited.
  • Download an offline map like AllTrails since cell service is spotty.
  • Expect narrow, winding cliffside roads – take your time driving!
  • Bring layers and wind protection – temperatures fluctuate.
  • Give yourself more time to explore than you think you’ll need! It’s easy to lose track wandering around the park’s 30,000 acres.

Where to Eat at point reyes

Fuel up during your jam-packed Point Reyes day trip at these delicious spots:

  • Hog Island Oyster Co – Picnic tables on Tomales Bay to shuck your own oysters!
  • Station House Cafe – Charming farm-to-table restaurant in Point Reyes Station.
  • Bovine Bakery – Pastries, pizza, sandwiches and coffee in town.
  • A. Poggio Pizzeria – Incredible wood-fired artisan pizza by the slice or whole.
  • The Marshall Store – Fresh oysters, smoked salmon, and patio dining right on Tomales Bay.
  • Saltwater Oyster Depot – Bright, modern seafood restaurant across from the Lighthouse. Get the cioppino!

Don’t skip the cheese either!

  • Cowgirl Creamery – World-famous artisan cheese shop and tasting room.
  • Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. – Organic cheese crafted on the farm – don’t miss the blue!

Point Reyes has some fantastic places to eat during your visit. Here are some of the best restaurants and food stops to fuel up in the area:

Point Reyes Station Restaurants

  • Bovine Bakery – Incredible baked goods, pizza, sandwiches. A must-stop!
  • Station House Cafe – Charming farm-to-table restaurant with great cocktails.
  • A. Poggio Pizzeria – Delicious wood-fired artisan pizza by the slice or whole pie.
  • Side Street Kitchen– Cozy diner with locally-sourced comfort food. Try the pâté!

Oyster restaurants in Point Reyes

  • Hog Island Oyster Co. – Shuck your own oysters at picnic tables on Tomales Bay.
  • The Marshall Store – Casual spot for fresh raw and barbecued oysters.
  • Saltwater Oyster Depot – Modern oyster bar with an airy chic vibe. Get the cioppino!

Cheese Tasting in point reyes

  • Cowgirl Creamery – World-famous artisan cheeses. Free tastings!
  • Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. – Craft cheese made sustainably right on the farm. Their Point Reyes blue cheese is very popular!

Other Great restaurants in point reyes

  • Osteria Stellina – Italian cuisine using hyper-local ingredients.
  • Perry’s Deli – Classic deli with huge sandwiches. Picnic in the park!
  • Tony’s Seafood – Fresh sustainably-caught fish and chips to go. Great prices
Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/point-reyes-day-trip/
Tonys Seafood Restaurant also serves oysters from tomales and hog island

Where to Stay in Point Reyes for a Weekend Getaway

Want to extend your Point Reyes National Seashore trip? Consider staying the night! Here are some of my favorite places:

Point Reyes Station Lodges

  • Olema House – Stunning lodge-style hotel with a great restaurant attached.Rated one of the top hotels this year by Conde Nasté Traveler!
  • Point Reyes Seashore Lodge – Budget-friendly comfortable rooms in Olema.

Marshall/Tomales Bay lodges and cabins

  • Nick’s Cove – Super charming waterfront cottages overlooking Tomales Bay.
  • Tomales Bay Resort – Laidback hotel with rooms overlooking the bay.
  • Booking . com home Rentals- Lots of wonderful furnished cottage and home rentals throughout the region!

Wherever you stay, you’ll be perfectly positioned for more time adventuring in Point Reyes National Seashore and the surrounding coastal towns.

The Perfect Point Reyes Day Trip Itinerary

Here’s a suggested timeline to help you plan an epic day trip to Point Reyes from San Francisco or Sacramento

8 AM – Leave early from SF or Sacramento

9:15 AM – Quick stop to see the shipwreck near Inverness.

9:30 AM – Hike out to beautiful Chimney Rock.

11:15 AM – Drive to Point Reyes Lighthouse area.

12:00 PM – Oyster picnic lunch at Hog Island Oyster Co!

1:45 PM – Walk through the magical Cypress Tree Tunnel.

2:30 PM – Explore the town of Point Reyes Station.

3:30 PM – Grab coffee/pastry in town before heading home.

5:00 PM – Arrive back home

This relaxed itinerary leaves wiggle room for spontaneous stops. You’ll have an unforgettable day adventuring in this ruggedly gorgeous part of Northern California!

Let me know if you have any other questions about planning your ideal Point Reyes National Seashore day trip. I’m happy to help!

Wishing you stunning ocean views, magical forest paths, tasty oysters, and happy Point Reyes memories. Enjoy!

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