As you travel north across the Golden Gate Bridge, you enter a region that many people consider one of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire world. The heart of this gorgeous country is Point Reyes California. This is a playground for artists, writers, birders, conservationists, and nature lovers. Point Reyes is in Marin County where the coastal mountains take a sudden dramatic plunge into the turquoise Pacific Ocean, leaving in their wake a rocky coastline so spectacular that National Geographic photographers are almost as common a sight as the barking seals and pelicans. Point Reyes defines the word "breathtaking" as the panoramic views will humble any human being that gaze out at them.
Almost the entire Point Reyes Peninsula is a national park called the Point Reyes National Seashore. It is also a nature preserve that is overseen and run by the United States National Park Service. As such, the wildlife and habitat within the park boundaries are strictly protected. Along the northeastern edge of Point Reyes is Tomales Bay with its tranquil waters and associated wetlands offering refuge to thousands of migrating shorebirds in the spring and fall. Kayaking is very popular in Tomales Bay but so is just walking and gawking! The natural sounds you'll hear are so peaceful, a walk among them is like a form of meditation. The western coast of the park is rugged and wild with giant rocky monoliths just offshore. A walk along this rocky shoreline reveals tidepools teeming with colorful marine invertebrate life including giant green sea anemones, iridescent sea slugs, and bright orange starfish. There are sea bird colonies nesting on the rocks just offshore. Elk and deer graze on the hill sides above the seashore and you're bound to find other wildlife as well.
From the middle of January through about the middle of March, Point Reyes California becomes one of the most popular hotspots to watch gray whales migrating. This is one of the points along the western coastline where they come very close to shore. Sometimes these mammoth beasts come so close you can actually see the barnacles on their skin without the assistance of binoculars! Of course, it's always fun to look for the spouts they do before they dive deep for food. Gray whales are curious creatures and some tourists have reported the gray whales turning around temporarily to check them out.
One of the main attractions of Point Reyes California is the Point Reyes Lighthouse and lighthouse enthusiasts flock to this location. Built and commissioned in 1870, this lighthouse with its first order Fresnel lens has been carefully restored and maintained in perfect condition. The roof is bright red which really makes it pop out against the predominantly blue and green natural landscape. You should try to schedule time for touring the lighthouse if possible.
In the spring, usually in the month of May, the hills above the seascape come alive as fields of wildflowers waving in the wind. These include massive fields o the famous golden California poppies. These wildflowers see to appear almost overnight. The clean salty sea air is filled with a hint of sweetness as the wildflowers perfume the air. Hiking at this time of year is exceptionally pleasant. You'll see many hikers stopping to breath deep and fill their lungs to capacity.
Restaurant options near Point Reyes range from small charming cafes, each with their own home spun specialities, to gourmet seafood dining with spectacular views. Many restaurants in this area specialize in using locally grown ingredients. There are also many organic options plus vegetarian and vegan options. In fact, there are so many delicious options, you may find it difficult to choose one! Some recommended dining places include Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station, Pelican Inn at Muir Beach, Station House Cafe in Point Reyes, Drake's Beach Cafe in Point Reyes and Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes.
There are many lodging opportunities near the Point Reyes National Seashore Park. These include a classy lodge with many upscale amenities, a few different bed and breakfast locations, and some more basic hotels. The only overnight lodging available inside the park is the Point Reyes Hostel. This hostel is considered one of the best in the country with beautiful common rooms to lounge in, a full kitchen to cook in, decks with views, and it is located within easy walking distance of a long sandy beach where you can stroll for hours. This hostel also has a new building which is LEED certified, the first in the nation for a hostel! Some recommended places to stay are the One Mesa Bed and Breakfast in Point Reyes, Ferrando's Hideaway Cottages, Windsor Cottages, Black Herron Inn, Knob Hill and Point Reyes Vineyard Inn.
Remember, no trip to Point Reyes California would be complete without savoring a full sky over the ocean sunset where the colors that streak the sky fill your peripheral vision. Enjoy!