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42 Best Things to Do in Point Reyes California:  A Curated Guide to Exploring the Best of the National Seashore

Point Reyes, California

by Coco Tran On September 8, 2023

Best Things to in point reyes

42 Best Things to Do in Point Reyes California:  

A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring the Best of the National seashore point reyes

Are you planning a trip to Point Reyes, California?  

Point Reyes is one of my favorite places to visit. Located just two hours from my hometown of Sacramento, this magical coastline often calls me back.

On my most recent trip, I made a list of my top recommended sights and activities to help you plan an amazing visit to this part of Northern California.

Some of the best things to do in Point Reyes include hiking along the rugged cliffs, spotting wildlife like seals and elk, exploring the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, and sampling fresh oysters from local farms.

With its dramatic landscapes, secluded beaches, and charming small towns, Point Reyes makes for an unforgettable Northern California coast getaway. Let me know if you need any other tips for planning your upcoming trip!

 This stunning area is located just a few miles north of San Francisco and is home to the picturesque Point Reyes Lighthouse, epic hiking trails, and numerous species of birds and wildlife.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach or an adventurous hike through the wilderness, Point Reyes has something for everyone.

Planning Your Visit To Point Reyes Ca

When planning your visit to Point Reyes, you should consider the weather and time of year. Point Reyes can experience a wide range of weather conditions, from sunny and warm to foggy and cool, even in the middle of summer! Make sure you check the forecast before you go.

If you’re coming from the Bay Area or San Francisco to Point Reyes, It’s an easy day trip. There is also plenty to do if you want to make a weekend of it. There are several campgrounds in the park, as well as a number of lodging options in nearby towns.

Stop by the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Here you can pick up maps and guides, get advice on hiking trails and other activities, and learn about the park’s history and ecology. The center also has exhibits on the park’s plants and animals, as well as a small bookstore.

Things to do in point reyes

If you’re short on time, the visitor center staff can help you plan a quick itinerary that will allow you to see some of the park’s highlights. But if you have more time, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, beachcombing, and more.

In addition to the visitor center, there are several other resources available to help you plan your visit. The park’s website has a wealth of information on everything from camping and lodging to hiking and wildlife watching. You can also find trip itineraries on the website, which can be helpful if you’re not sure where to start.

Information About Point Reyes California

Here’s some helpful information you should know about Point Reyes such as; maps, roads, transportation options, and tips to help you navigate the area:

Where is Point Reyes National Seashore California?

Point Reyes National Seashore is located along the coast of Marin County, approximately 45 miles (about a 1 hour drive) north of San Francisco. It sits on a triangular peninsula that juts out dramatically into the Pacific Ocean, just west of the town of Inverness. 

This expansive national park area covers over 100 square miles of pristine beaches, forested hills, and rugged coastal beauty. It lies directly adjacent to the popular Pacific Coast Highway 1, making it a convenient and scenic stop for those driving this famous route.

As a prominent cape along the Northern California shoreline, Point Reyes and its over 150 miles of hiking trails and 80 miles of unspoiled coast beckon outdoor adventurers, nature lovers, and anyone looking to experience breathtaking ocean vistas.

The landscapes encompass forested ridges, open grasslands, secluded coves, and long sandy beaches pounded by monumental Pacific surf.

With its easy access from San Francisco and wealth of recreational opportunities, Point Reyes National Seashore is a treasured natural escape for Bay Area residents and travelers alike seeking to explore the Northern California coast.

How Much Time Do You Need in Point Reyes National Seashore?

If you’re wondering if you can see Point Reyes on a day trip the answer is yes. However to explore Point Reyes more in-depth you should stay 2 nights to explore the hiking trails and all things Point Reyes has to offer. 

Map of Point Reyes National Seashore

You can find a map of the area on the official National Park Service website. This map includes detailed information about the park’s trails, roads, and facilities. You can also pick up a printed map at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Roads in Point Reyes National Seashore

The winding coastal roads can cause motion sickness, so I recommend taking it slow if you’re driving, or taking Dramamine if you’re a passenger.

Point Reyes is easily reached by car via Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, which runs through the park. Note that some areas of the park, such as the lighthouse, are only accessible via narrow,  very winding roads.

Tip: Being the driver helps me prevent car sickness.

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How To Get To Point Reyes Without a Car

If you prefer not to drive, there are a few transportation options available. The Marin Transit bus system operates several routes that serve Point Reyes, including the West Marin Stagecoach and the Muir Woods Shuttle. You can also take a taxi or ride-sharing service to the park.

Tours to Point Reyes National Park

There are several tours that include the best things to do at Point Reyes, here are some of the well-reviewed Tours to Point Reyes:

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Point Reyes Private Tour From San Francisco

  • Private tour with guide /driver
  • 5 star reviews
  • See the highlights of point reyes
  • free cancelations with Reserve now +pay later

Where To Stay At Point Reyes: Point Reyes National Seashore

Accommodations in Point Reyes National Seashore

When it comes to finding a place to stay in Point Reyes, you’re spoilt for choice. There are plenty of hotels, homes, cabins, and cottages of various sizes and price points to choose from.

If you’re looking for a cozy, rustic retreat, you might want to consider staying in one of Point Reyes’ many cabins. Check this Cute Bungalow Rental in point Reyes Station.

For budget options check out the Point Reyes Hostel , or this amazing modern home with panoramic view of Point Reyes for those looking for a more upscale experience.

Things to do in point Reyes

Visitor Center in Point Reyes National Seashore

When visiting Point Reyes National Seashore, there are several visitor facilities available to enhance your experience.

The Lighthouse Visitor Center is a great place to start your journey. Here, you can learn about the history of the Point Reyes Lighthouse, marine life, and maritime history.

The center also has a small bookstore where you can purchase souvenirs. Note that the stairs down to the lighthouse are only open when the LHVC is open and wind speeds remain below 40 mph (64km/h).

The Observation Deck at the top of the stairs is open daily from 6 am to ~9:45 pm.

Bear Valley Visitor Center

Bear Valley Visitor Center is the main visitor center at Point Reyes National Seashore. Located along Bear Valley Road just a little west of Olema, Bear Valley Visitor Center is a great first stop at the park, especially if it is your first visit. Here, you can learn about the park’s natural and cultural history through several exhibits.

tips for visiting Point Reyes National Seashore

  • I cannot stress this one enough, my #1 tip is to Download Google Maps for offline use because cell service is very limited Even with the best network Verizon we had  no cell reception
  • Download the NPS app for real-time park maps, alerts, and information  
  • Plan for 2-3 days minimum to fully explore the vast park
  • Check for closures before visiting due to weather, fires, wildlife seasons, etc.
  • Prepare for changeable weather with layers, rain gear, and wind protection
  • Fill up your gas tank in Point Reyes Station before entering the park 
  • Stock up on food, water, and supplies in town before entering the park
  • Avoid walking near ocean edges due to dangerous waves and rip currents 
  • Keep your distance from wildlife and park off roads when viewing animals
  • Wear wetsuits in the cold seawater if swimming or surfing
  • Follow Leave No Trace guidelines if camping in the park 
  • Opt for hiking or biking to access remote areas of the park
  • Stop at Bear Valley Visitor Center for a park map 
  • Take precautions near unstable cliffs and beaches with strong currents

  • Pick the best time to visit Point Reyes based on your interests:
    •   Wildlife viewing – spring, fall, winter
    •   Whale watching – November-July
    •   Wildflowers – early summer
    •   Warmer weather/less fog – July-August
    •   Fewer crowds – September-October

Point Reyes Parking

Parking in Point Reyes is easy. There are small designated parking lots for most of the hiking trails in Point Reyes. Most of them are free to park at and have clearly labeled trails. Everytime I’ve gone to Point Reyes I’ve never had issues finding parking.

Weather at Point Reyes National Seashore 

 Point Reyes Park experiences a Mediterranean climate, with mild, wet winters and cool, dry summers. However, weather patterns can be unpredictable, so it’s important to come prepared for any conditions.

Best Time to Go To Point Reyes Ca

The best time to visit Point Reyes National Seashore is in the spring or fall. During my most recent visit, I went in late summer to get away from the heat in Sacramento, and the weather was a perfect 70 with mild winds, a nice break from the scorching 100-degree weather in Sac!

Spring offers the highest chance of clear skies and blooming wildflowers. The fall has warmer temperatures and less fog compared to other times of the year. 

While the weather is hard to predict along the Northern California coast, Point Reyes sees more sun and mild temps in September and October. Whale watching is also popular during the gray whale migration from January through April.

The summer months of June-August bring cold fog and blustery winds, though the afternoons tend to clear up.

Winter from December to February has storms and rain, but also some beautifully crisp sunny days. The key for any season is to dress in layers and be flexible with plans during inclement weather. Focus on beachcombing or hiking inland trails if the coastal views are socked in with fog.

Tip: You should know that private vehicles are restricted to areas like Drakes Beach and the Lighthouse when the shuttle is operating during whale season.

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Seasons in Point Reyes National Seashore

Spring In Point Reyes

Springtime in Point Reyes is a beautiful time to visit, with wildflowers in full bloom and wildlife coming out of hibernation. However, it can also be a rainy season, so make sure to pack rain gear and waterproof shoes. Keep in mind that some trails may be closed due to muddy conditions.

Point Reyes in Summer 

Summer is the busiest time of year in Point Reyes, with warm temperatures and sunny skies. However, it’s also the foggiest season, so be prepared for limited visibility in some areas. If you plan on hiking, make sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection, as temperatures can reach the high 70s.

Visiting Point Reyes in Fall 

Fall is a great time to visit Point Reyes, with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. However, it can also be a time of high winds and stormy weather, so be sure to check for any weather-related closures before heading out. Don’t forget to bring layers, as temperatures can vary throughout the day.

Going To Point Reyes in Winter

Winter is the quietest time of year in Point Reyes, with fewer visitors and cooler temperatures. However, it can also be a rainy season, with some trails and roads closed due to flooding. If you plan on visiting during this time, be sure to check for any weather-related closures and bring warm, waterproof clothing.

History and Significance of Point Reyes CA

Point Reyes is a beautiful and historic peninsula located in California, USA. The area has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The first human inhabitants of the peninsula were the Coast Miwok Indians, who lived there for over 5,000 years. Over 120 known village sites still exist within the park.

In 1579, Sir Francis Drake landed on the coast of California, near Point Reyes. His landing marked the first time an Englishman had set foot on what is now California. The area was later named after the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino, who sailed along the coast in 1603 and named the Point after Saint Reyes.

In the late 1800s, the area was used for dairy farming, and the first lighthouse was built in 1870. The lighthouse was an important part of the area’s history, as it helped guide ships safely through the dangerous waters off the coast.

Things To Do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore is a nature lover’s paradise, offering a wide range of outdoor activities to suit every interest and ability. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike, a leisurely picnic, or a refreshing swim, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore.

1. Go on a Hike at one of the Beautiful Point Reyes Hiking Trails

One of the most popular activities at Point Reyes is hiking. With over 150 miles of trails to choose from, you will find a trail that fits your hiking style.

things to do in point eyes

 Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, you’ll find trails that offer stunning views of the coastline, rolling hills, and lush forests. Some of the most popular hiking trails include the  Tomales Point Trail, the Alamere Falls Trail, and Bear Valley Trail. My favorite trail and a Point Reyes trail I recommend if it’s your first time and you only have time for one trail is the Point Reyes Trail.

Check out my full guide on the Point Reyes trail here

2. Eat Amazing Fresh Oysters in Point Reyes at nearby Tomales Bay

Point Reyes is renowned for its incredible oysters fresh from Tomales Bay, making oyster tastings and farm tours a top foodie activity in the region. Several acclaimed oyster companies offer delicious bivalves straight from their local sustainably-run farms.

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A pioneer in the area’s oyster industry, Tomales Bay Oyster Company has been operating since 1909. Stop by their shop to grab fresh raw oysters for a beach picnic or shucked oysters sold by the pint. Their oysters highlight the bay’s unique merroir.

For a fascinating look at modern oyster farming, book a tour with Hog Island Oyster Co. Their 1-hour walking tour takes you out to the farm to see operations up close and learn how the bivalves are raised. Afterward, dine on their just-harvested oysters at picnic tables overlooking the bay.

Other top spots to slurp briny oysters freshly plucked from the bay include The Marshall Store, Nick’s Cove, and Tony’s Seafood (where we ate, I loved their clam chowder!)

. Don’t miss this quintessential NorCal experience of tasting these delicious mollusks!

Tony’s seafood point Reyes

3. Enjoy a nice Picnic in Point Reyes

If you’re looking for a relaxing way to enjoy the park’s natural beauty, stop by the Point Reyes Station pick up some goodies, and head to one of the many scenic picnic areas. The most popular spots for picnicking include Drakes Beach, Limantour Beach, and the Great Beach (aka Point Reyes Beach). Don’t forget to bring a blanket and some sunscreen!

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4. Go Kayaking At Point Reyes

For those who love to get out on the water, kayaking and paddleboarding are great options. You can rent kayaks and paddleboards from several local outfitters, or bring your own equipment. Or better yet, join a guided kayaking Tour!

5. Paddleboarding At Point Reyes

Some popular spots for kayaking and paddleboarding include Tomales Bay and Drakes Estero. 

6. Go Swimming at Point Reyes

If you’re looking to cool off on a hot summer day, there are a few beaches at Point Reyes where you can swim or just relax in the sun. Some of the most popular beaches include Drakes Beach, Limantour Beach, and Heart’s Desire Beach. Check the park’s website for information on water conditions and safety before you go.

7. See the historic Pierce Point Ranch

Cattle ranching has a long history at Point Reyes National Seashore. Dairy cows brought by the Spanish missionaries in the 1800s still graze across the pastoral landscape today. One of the best places to learn about the park’s ranching heritage is Pierce Point Ranch, located on the windswept northern tip of Point Reyes. 

Established in 1858, Pierce Point Ranch operated for over a century until 1973. It was one of the largest and most successful dairy ranches in the area during the late 1800s, well-known for its flavorful butter. The ranch complex remains remarkably intact, with little alteration to the original buildings over the years. 

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you can take a self-guided tour of the ranch house, creamery, barns, and worker cottages. Interpretive signs provide insight into what life and work was like on the isolated ranch. Wandering past the sagging fences and weathered buildings, one can vividly imagine the farmers and families that once lived and worked this scenic stretch of land. The historic site provides a window into California’s ranching past and the settlers who shaped Point Reyes.

In recognition of its significance, Pierce Point Ranch was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Whether you’re interested in cultural history or just enjoy taking peaceful walks, be sure to save time for this hidden gem during your Point Reyes visit.

Today, Point Reyes is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The area is home to many historic sites, including the Point Reyes Lighthouse, which is still in operation today. Visitors can also explore the area’s natural beauty by hiking, camping, and enjoying the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Things To Do Point Reyes 

Check Out the Beaches at Point Reyes

8. Visit Drakes Beach for a Chill Beach Day

Drakes Beach is one of the most scenic and accessible beaches within Point Reyes National Seashore. Located off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, the main road through the park, a turn onto Drakes Beach Road leads you to the parking area and short trail to the beach. 

Upon arriving, you’ll be greeted by a sweeping expanse of creamy soft sand, backed by rugged cliffs streaked with orange, gold, and black mineral tones. The unique striated cliffs provide a dramatic landscape for photographers and sightseers. The beach has plenty of space to spread out and enjoy sunbathing, picnicking, beachcombing, or sandcastle building, making it a popular destination.

Unlike some of the park’s more rugged ocean-facing beaches, the waves at Drakes tend to be a bit gentler and less prone to sneaker waves. However, visitors should always be cautious near the water and keep an eye out for rip currents that can occur. 

d4akes Beach point reyes

Leashed dogs are permitted in parts of the park, but not on Drakes Beach itself. Facilities include restrooms, picnic tables near the parking area, and a small bookstore with information about Point Reyes. 

Because of its beauty and accessibility, Drakes Beach can get quite crowded, especially on warm weekends. Try to arrive early in the day to beat the crowds and stake out that perfect spot on the sand. With majestic cliffs as your backdrop, Drakes Beach is one of the “can’t miss” destinations for a quintessential Northern California beach experience.

9. Take A Swim at Heart’s Desire Beach

Nestled along the eastern shore of Tomales Bay, Heart’s Desire Beach is a delightful swimming and sunbathing destination within Tomales Bay State Park. The aptly named beach features a protected cove with calm, warmer waters that make for ideal swimming conditions, especially for children. 

A mere 5-minute walk from the parking area leads you to this stunning crescent of sand hugged by grassy hills. Days here are spent lounging on the beach, picnicking on the shore, and playing in the sheltered blue waters. The beach has restrooms, picnic tables, and grassy areas to spread out.  

While the main draw is Heart’s Desire Beach itself, trails from the parking area provide access to adjacent pristine beaches like Pebble Beach and Indian Beach for exploring or taking scenic walks. A 1-mile loop trail leads inland to the lovely Jepson Grove with shady bishop pines.

Arrive early, as parking fees apply and spots fill up fast. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park but not on Heart’s Desire Beach itself. With its family-friendly waters and beautiful setting, it’s easy to see how this beach got its name.

10. See Point Reyes Beach And The Jaw-Dropping Scenic Views

If you’re looking for a quintessential Northern California beach, head to the windswept 11-mile expanse of Point Reyes Beach within Point Reyes National Seashore. Its epic scale, scenic bluffs, and thundering Pacific surf sum up the untamed beauty of the park’s coastline.

For amazing aerial views, head to the Point Reyes Lighthouse parking area. On clear days, the entire lengthy beach is visible with waves endlessly crashing on its wide sandy shore. Access points are located at North Beach and South Beach parking areas. 

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While swimming is dangerous, long walks along the water’s edge take in the dramatic seascape. Sections are off limits in winter and spring to protect wildlife breeding areas. Keep dogs leashed and away from closed zones. 

Stay well back from the crashing waves and watch for rogue breakers, as the powerful surf can unexpectedly surge up the beach. With basic precautions, a walk on windswept Point Reyes Beach lets you experience the wild spirit of this stunning stretch of Northern California shoreline.

11. Go Biking in point Reyes

With over 20 miles of bicycle-friendly trails, Point Reyes National Seashore provides exceptional opportunities for biking while enjoying scenic vistas. Cyclists can ride class 1 electric bikes and regular bicycles on select trails and roads in the park.

For birdwatching, the Estero Trail from its trailhead to the footbridge over Abbotts Lagoon offers excellent viewing and habitat for herons, ducks, and other species. The nearby Drakes Head path also makes a nice nature loop.

Along the east side of the park, Bear Valley Trail from the Bear Valley trailhead junction with Glen Trail traverses wooded canyon landscapes where you may spot woodpeckers and nuthatches. The Inverness Ridge Trail from Limantour Road to Mt. Vision Road rises gradually through pine forest with bay views.

For dazzling ocean panoramas, the Coast Trail from the Laguna Trailhead to the Coast Campground boasts nonstop Pacific views as it winds above shear cliffs and secluded beaches. For a shorter coastal ride, take Sunset Trail out and back from the parking lot.

Check Out Amazing Wildlife Spotting in point Reyes CA

Point Reyes is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with a diverse range of animals to spot. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just enjoy watching animals in their natural habitat, there’s something for everyone.

12. See Tule Elks in the Tule Elk Reserve

One of the most iconic animals to spot in Point Reyes is the Tule Elk. These majestic creatures are a subspecies of elk found only in California and roam throughout the peninsula.

elk reserve point reyes trail

The 230 kg elk were once common, but by the 1870s they had been nearly hunted out of existence. Today, Point Reyes’ re-established herd numbers more than 500 animals. When the bull elks are in their ‘rut’ (typically August through October), they are particularly active and vocal, making for a thrilling wildlife watching experience.

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13. Catch The local Species of Birds 

Birding is also a popular activity in Point Reyes, with a diverse array of habitats to explore. Look and listen for all kinds of birds across the peninsula, from the brackish waters of Abbotts Lagoon to the grasslands of Chimney Rock. The Tomales Point Trail is a prime wildlife viewing trail in Point Reyes, where you can spot numerous tule elk and a variety of bird species. Keep an eye out for western grebes, pie-billed grebes, coots, black-shouldered kites, and Caspian terns.

If marine life is more your thing, head to the Point Reyes Lighthouse or Chimney Rock for a chance to spot migrating whales. Gray whales migrate past Point Reyes twice a year, with the best viewing opportunities from late December through early May. Elephant seals can also be seen lounging on the beaches of Drakes Bay and Chimney Rock, particularly in the winter months.

14. Whale Watching at Point Reyes 

One of the most popular activities at Point Reyes National Seashore during the winter and spring is looking for migrating gray whales offshore. From December through May, these magnificent marine mammals can be spotted swimming past Point Reyes as part of their annual migration.

Gray whales travel an incredible journey each year between their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic seas to the sheltered lagoons of Baja California, Mexico where females give birth in the winter. In spring, they make the return trip north again with newborn calves in tow. 

Point Reyes’ dramatic headlands provide prime vantage points for spotting the whales as they pass by near the shoreline on their migrations. The best land-based viewpoints are from Chimney Rock and Point Reyes Lighthouse, where elevated clifftop positioning gives you a broad scope of the ocean. Look for spouts of mist from the whales’ blowholes or their dark curved backs breaking the surface. Occasionally you’ll catch a glimpse of a fluke (tail) diving down.

Bring binoculars to scan for whales, but keep a safe distance from the cliff edge.

Or better yet, if you’re lucky to visit during the Winter, book a guided Whale Watching Tour and see them in the water up close!

15. See Elephant Seals in point Reyes at Elephant Seal Overlook

In addition to gray whales, Point Reyes National Seashore provides opportunities to spot other marine mammals along its beaches and headlands. Two types of seals make their home along the park’s shores – northern elephant seals and Pacific harbor seals. 

From December to March, Elephant Seal Overlook near the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse offers a premier vantage point for viewing northern elephant seals. Perched on cliffs 130 feet above the beach, visitors can look down on hundreds of enormous elephant seals sprawled across the sand below. During this winter breeding and birthing season, the beach comes alive with the huge animals’ loud bellows and quarrels. Pups with big black eyes and the males with signature proboscis “trunk” noses are incredible to see up close via telescope.

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Harbor seals can be spotted year-round both offshore and hauled out on beaches like Drakes Beach. Look for their cow-like spotted coats and short front flippers tucked under their bodies. Seals are very sensitive to human disturbance, so be sure to observe them only from designated overlooks and keep your distance. With luck, you may catch them frolic in the rolling waves or laze about on the shore.  

Seeing these marine mammals in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience unique to Point Reyes National Seashore’s diverse ecosystems along the wild California coast.

16. Go Camping and Backpacking at Point Reyes

With over 150 miles of hiking trails traversing wilderness beaches, coastal headlands, and forested ridges, Point Reyes National Seashore is a premier backpacking destination in Northern California. Since car camping is not allowed, backpacking provides the only opportunity to camp overnight and fully experience the park’s remote natural beauty. 

Popular backcountry campgrounds require advance reservations through, especially for weekends. Sites like Coast Camp, Glen Camp, Sky Camp, and Wildcat Camp provide scenic coastal views or peaceful forest settings. Plan your route carefully, as hikes range from 5 to 20+ miles depending on your chosen trailhead. 

Coast Camp’s grassy site near Limantour Beach makes a perfect base to explore the northern point’s tidepools and Estero. Reach it via the moderate 8-mile hike from Bear Valley. Those seeking solitude in dense Douglas fir forest can trek to secluded Glen Camp from the southern Bear Valley trailhead. 

For panoramic Pacific vistas, make the strenuous 11-mile climb to Sky Camp perched on Mount Wittenberg ridge. Start from Bear Valley or shorten the journey by beginning at Sky Trailhead. Near Drakes Beach, Wildcat Camp offers waterfall views and beach access after a moderate 5-6 mile hike from Palomarin or Bear Valley.

Don’t Miss These Scenic Photo Spots in Point Reyes

Point Reyes National Seashore is known for its breathtaking scenery and stunning views. There are several scenic spots that you must visit during your trip to Point Reyes. Here are some of the most beautiful and picturesque spots that you should not miss:

17. See The Beautiful Point Reyes Lighthouse

Perched dramatically on the windswept Point Reyes headlands, Point Reyes Lighthouse is one of the most picturesque and beloved lighthouses along the California coast. Its breathtaking oceanfront location makes a visit to see the historic beacon one of the top things to do when exploring Point Reyes National Seashore.

The lighthouse was constructed in 1870 by order of President Andrew Johnson to warn approaching ships of the rocky Point Reyes headlands. For over a century, the lighthouse shone its light into the foggy nights, guiding mariners to safety. Even after being decommissioned in 1975 when a modern beacon was installed nearby, the stately lighthouse continues to captivate visitors.

point reyes light house
point Reyes lighthouse

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lighthouse station includes the tower, keeper’s quarters, fog signal building, cistern, and other structures that give visitors a glimpse into a lighthouse keeper’s daily life. A tour of the grounds and climbing the 300 steps to the top of the lighthouse rewards you with sweeping coastal views. The short hike down to the lighthouse from the parking area incorporates scenic overlooks and fascinating exhibits on the history of the site.

Tip: The lighthouse is surrounded by rugged cliffs and is a great spot to watch the sunset.

18. Check Out Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock is another scenic spot that you should visit. It is located on the westernmost point of the Point Reyes Headlands and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The rock formation gets its name from a chimney-like rock that juts out from the cliffs.

19. Take in The Scenic Cliffside Coastal Views at Tomales Point 

Tomales Point is a narrow strip of land that extends into the Pacific Ocean. It is a great spot for hiking and offers breathtaking views of the ocean. The trail is about 9.4 miles round trip and takes you through a Tule Elk Preserve.

20. Take A Stroll Through the Iconic and Instagrammable Photo Cypress Tree Tunnel

One of the most photographed spots in Point Reyes National Seashore is the enchanting cypress tree tunnel located along the park’s Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. This Instagram-famous spot with towering Monterey cypress trees was planted in 1930 and creates a straight, cathedral-like corridor you can walk under. 

Cypress tree tunnel point Reyes

Photographers flock here to capture the striking perspective of the tree-lined driveway leading to the historic KPH Maritime Radio Receiving Station at its end. The best light occurs during sunrise’s golden hour, when angled sunshine spotlights the tunnel. Foggy days also produce moody, mystical photos with mist-shrouded branches.

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A leisurely stroll beneath the canopy of interwoven branches is magical any time of day. Try to experience the tunnel at its most peaceful, without crowds if you can. Weekend afternoons you may be able to tour the KPH station and hear vintage Morse code operations.  

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To find the cypress tunnel, drive north from Point Reyes Station on the park’s Sir Francis Drake Boulevard for about 9.5 miles until you see the sign for “North District Operations Center.”  

Tip: Parking is on the side of the road and it’s a short walk to the gates.

21. Point Reyes Shipwreck

One of the most photographed spots in Point Reyes is also a instagram famous photo spot in Point Reyes. It’s an abandoned fishing boat that sits beached on a sandbar in Tomales Bay near Inverness. This unrestored wooden vessel, ironically named the Point Reyes, has an interesting history!

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The boat was originally purchased by a local resident who had plans to restore it, but the project never commenced. After being stored on land for years, a storm in the 1990s dislodged the Point Reyes and washed it ashore where it remains today. 

Nearly 25 years later, the deteriorating yet picturesque boat has become a landmark photographic subject, with its peeling blue and white paint and rustic, worn appearance. When tides permit, visitors can walk right up to the grounded ship for photographs and admire Tomales Bay views from around the wreck. 

Depending on water levels, Point Reyes may be surrounded by the bay or sitting in a sandy field, allowing unique vantage points. Birders enjoy spotting egrets, herons, cormorants, and other species wading the shallow waters nearby.

While not purposefully put here, the beached fishing vessel adds character and photographic appeal to the Inverness shoreline. The prominent landmark serves as a fun photo stop and memento of your visit to Point Reyes National Seashore.

22. See The Stunning Coastline view at South Beach Overlook.

Located just past the cypress tree tunnel, this scenic viewpoint provides breathtaking vistas of the park’s rugged, cliff-swept coastline.

The overlook stretches for over 0.2 miles along the cliffs, offering panoramic views of Point Reyes Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Dramatic seascapes unfold, from towering rock outcroppings sculpted by the sea to waves crashing against the rocky shore below.

Best Things to in point reyes

Access the overlook by parking at the Point Reyes Lighthouse lot and walking about 5-8 minutes north along the cliffs. Winter visits may reveal seals and sea lions hauled out on the beaches hundreds of feet below. On clear days, the iconic Point Reyes Lighthouse is visible in the distance.

Foggy conditions add a moody atmosphere, with mist tendrils swirling around the headlands. Sunny days showcase vibrant turquoise waters and the beach’s vast scale. Bring binoculars to spot whales or details on the cliffs. With sweeping coastal vistas, the South Beach Overlook adds another memorable stop when photographing Point Reyes’ iconic natural features.

23. See The View from The headlands Point Reyes Outlook

The Observation Deck is located on the westernmost point of the Point Reyes Headlands and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. It is a great spot to watch the sunset and take photos.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

24. See The Leaning Cypress Tree

Right by the lighthouse you’ll find this unique leaning tree growing at a gravity defying 45 degree angle . Thanks to incredible winds that whisk through the area ! Exact Google map directions

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

25. Swim at Heart’s Desire Beach

Heart’s Desire Beach is a beautiful sandy beach located on the eastern side of Tomales Bay. The beach offers stunning views of the bay and is a great spot to relax and enjoy the sun.

26. Hike To See The Beautiful Alamere Falls

Alamere Falls is a stunning waterfall that drops into the ocean. It is one of the most beautiful spots in Point Reyes National Seashore and is a must-visit for nature lovers. The trail to the falls is about 8.4 miles round trip and takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the park.

27.Admire the Beautiful Sandstone Cliffs

The sandstone cliffs in Point Reyes National Seashore are some of the most beautiful natural formations in the park. They offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and are a great spot to watch the sunset.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

28. Trails and Hikes in Point Reyes 

Point Reyes is a hiker’s paradise with over 150 miles of hiking trails. Whether you prefer a leisurely walk or a challenging hike, there is a trail for you. From the rugged coastline to the rolling hills, Point Reyes offers some of the most scenic hikes in California.

One of the most popular hikes in Point Reyes is the Tomales Point Trail. This 9.4-mile out-and-back trail takes you to the northernmost point of the Point Reyes Peninsula. Along the way, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay. Keep an eye out for tule elk, which are often seen grazing along the trail.

Another must-see hike is the Chimney Rock Trail. This 1.8-mile loop takes you to the westernmost point of the Point Reyes Peninsula. From the overlook, you’ll have panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged coastline. During the winter months, you may even spot gray whales migrating south.

If you’re looking for a shorter hike, the Palomarin Trailhead offers several options. The trailhead is located near the town of Bolinas and offers easy access to several popular trails, including Alamere Falls and Bass Lake. The trails are well-marked and offer a variety of terrain, from coastal bluffs to dense forests.

In addition to these popular trails, there are many other hiking trails in Point Reyes to explore. The National Park Service offers a trail guide and suggested hikes on their website, which is a great resource for planning your hike.

Keep in mind that some trails may be closed due to weather or maintenance, so be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Finally, it’s important to note that some roads in Point Reyes may be closed during the winter months due to heavy rain and flooding.

Be sure to check road conditions before you go and plan accordingly. With a little preparation, you can enjoy a safe and memorable hike in Point Reyes.

Check out my comprehensive Point Reyes Hiking Guide with some of Point Reyes best hikes here

Things to do Point Reyes

If you’re looking for things to do in Point Reyes, you won’t be disappointed. The area is full of local attractions that are sure to keep you busy during your visit. Continuing the list of best things to do in Point Reyes:

29, See The Iconic Point Reyes Lighthouse

One of the must-visit attractions at Point Reyes National Seashore is the Point Reyes Lighthouse. An iconically beautiful lighthouse perched dramatically on the windswept headlands. Visiting this historic landmark is a must-do activity for incredible ocean views and a glimpse into maritime history.

Constructed in 1870, the stately white lighthouse warned ships away from the dangerous Point Reyes peninsula until 1975 when it was automated. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lighthouse area encompasses the tower itself, keeper’s quarters, fog signal building, and other historic structures.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

To reach the lighthouse, visitors must descend over 300 stairs from the parking area down to the site. The stairs provide sweeping vistas, but the climb back up can be demanding. Those unable to handle the stairs can still view the lighthouse from the observation deck near the lot.

The lighthouse and visitor center are only open Friday – Monday from 10am – 4:30pm, so plan accordingly. Strong winds may cause closures. Even during closures, the views from the clifftop observation deck of the lighthouse below are phenomenal.

30. Indulge in a fun Cheese Tasting tour at the Locally woman-owned Point Reyes Cheese Company.

They are known for their exquisite Point Reyes blue cheese and Point Reyes TomaTruffle (with truffles from Umbria in Italy). It’s some of my favorite cheeses to pick up. And even more fun you can reserve a special one-hour cheese tasting tour at Point Reyes Cheese Company!

Tip: They are open every day except sundays, Reserve your cheese tasting in advance as weekends are popular and sell out!

31. Pick up some Fine local Cheese Cowgirl Creamery

If you’re a foodie, you won’t want to miss a visit to Cowgirl Creamery. This artisanal cheese shop in Point Reyes Station offers a variety of delicious cheeses made with local ingredients. You can sample the cheeses and take some home to enjoy later.

pointreyes lighthouse sunset
point Reyes lighthouse

32. Taste fresh local Honey at Heidrun Meadery and bring some home as Gifts

For something a little different, check out Heidrun Meadery. This local meadery produces mead made with honey from their own hives. You can take a tour of the facility and sample some of their unique meads.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, consider Nick’s Cove. This historic hotel and restaurant is located on the shores of Tomales Bay and offers stunning views of the water. The restaurant serves up fresh seafood and other local specialties.

33. Stroll Through The Cute Town of Pont Reyes Station

Located on Tomales Bay, the small town of Point Reyes Station serves as the gateway community to Point Reyes National Seashore. It makes for a perfect first stop to get oriented, grab a bite, stock up on supplies, and experience a taste of local culture.

This rural outpost centered around a few walkable blocks contains shops, eateries, gardens, and even street art. Wandering through town allows you to stretch your legs before heading into the park and get a feel for the region.

we picked up some cheese and goodies at the market and coffee and pastries 🥐 at Bovine bakery before heading out.

see my point Reyes itinerary guide here

Stop at the Palace Market for incredibly creamy soft serve ice cream made from buffalo milk sourced just down the road. Pick up some amazing pastries at bovine bakery

 Fill up on gas and snacks for your outdoor adventures. Photography buffs will enjoy capturing the charming historic buildings and pastoral landscapes around town.

Don’t miss the Point Reyes Station Farmers Market on Saturdays with fresh oysters, locally grown produce, baked goods, and artisanal food. With a relaxed, friendly vibe and plenty of small-town character, a stop in Point Reyes Station makes the perfect prelude to nature and sightseeing.

See The Amazing Flora and Fauna in Point Reyes

Point Reyes is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. As a protected area, it has a rich biological diversity that is worth exploring. Here are some of the things you can expect to see when you visit:

34. Admire the diverse Local Flora

The park’s flora is a fascinating mix of freshwater plants, grasses, grass-like plants, marine plants, trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. The park is home to over 900 species of plants, including some that are endemic to the area. You can learn more about the park’s flora at the Visitor Center, where you’ll find exhibits and information about the local ecosystems.

35. See the beautiful Wildflowers

If you’re visiting Point Reyes in the spring or early summer, you’re in for a treat. The park is home to a stunning array of wildflowers, including lupines, poppies, and paintbrushes. You can see them along the park’s many hiking trails, or take a guided wildflower walk with a park ranger.

36. View the Wild Fauna in Point reyes

Point Reyes is also home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. The park is also an important habitat for migratory birds, with over 490 species recorded in the area. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a whale or two off the coast.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

In addition to the larger animals, the park is also home to a variety of smaller creatures, including reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Keep an eye out for the park’s many butterflies, which are particularly abundant in the summer months.

Overall, Point Reyes is a nature lover’s paradise, with plenty to see and explore. Whether you’re interested in the park’s flora or fauna, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

Foodie Things to do Near Point Reyes

If you’re a foodie, Point Reyes is a paradise for you. From meaderies to dairy farms, there’s something for everyone. Here are some culinary experiences you shouldn’t miss:

37. Shuck your Own Oysters and eat them fresh at Tomales Bay Oyster Co

Tomales Bay Oyster Company is a local oyster farm where you can purchase oysters at bulk pricing fresh right at the shoreline! You can bring an ice chest grab some Tabasco sauces and lemons and enjoy the oysters on the beach nearby or bring htem home to enjoy. 

Tip: How much are oysters at Tomales Bay Oyster Co? The prices are different for XS, Small, and Large oysters.  for a dozen or a bag of 50. The prices range from $24 -$120. 

What kind of oysters are sold at Tomales Bay Oyster Co? Tomales Bay Oyster Co sells Kumamoto oysters and Pacific bay oysters raised right there on the farm.

38. Taste of Point Reyes Culinary Tour

If you want to explore the culinary delights of Point Reyes, you can take the Taste of Point Reyes Culinary Tour. This tour takes you to seven culinary destinations, including a renowned oyster farm, meadery, organic veggie farm, and more. You’ll get to enjoy exclusive tours and tastings at each location.

39.Cowgirl Creamery Point Reyes

Cowgirl Creamery is a must-visit for cheese lovers. You can take a behind-the-scenes look at artisanal cheesemaking and gain exclusive access to private dairies. You’ll learn from the farmers, cuddle the animals, and enjoy a wide array of farmstead cheeses and cheese pairings right from our award-winning creameries.

40. Cheese Tasting in Point Reyes

If you love cheese, you should definitely try the cheese tasting at pont Reyes Cheese Company  You can taste a variety of cheeses, including aged cheddars, soft-ripened triple creams, and seasonal specialties. You can also learn about the history of cheese making in Point Reyes and how Cowgirl Creamery has become a beloved local institution.

41. Mead Tasting

If you’re looking for something different, you can try mead tasting at the Heidrun Meadery. Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from honey and water, and it has a long history dating back to ancient times. At Heidrun Meadery, you can taste a variety of meads made from different types of honey and learn about the mead-making process.

42. Butter Making

If you’re interested in learning how to make butter, you can take a class at the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. You’ll learn how to churn cream into butter and take home a jar of your own handmade butter. You’ll also learn about the history of butter making in Point Reyes and how the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company has become a leading producer of artisanal cheeses and butter.

So there you go! A list of 41 best things to do in Point Reyes. If you need additional help or have questions feel free to ask mein the comments below. Have a fabulous trip to Point Reyes! Let me know in the comments of your favorite things you saw in Point Reyes.

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