The Best Things To Do in Point Reyes, California
The Point Reyes National Seashore is one of northern California’s most superb regions of coastal wilderness. We’re talking rocky coast, sandy beaches, green hills, 81 hiking trails, birds, sea lions, and even whales! The region spans over 100 square miles and is chock full of history and breathtaking beauty. Where to begin? Start with this shortlist of the best things to do in Point Reyes.
Point Reyes is just an hour from San Francisco. Enjoy a day trip and then keep going back to discover more on each adventure.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Purchasing through these links earns me a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Many thanks for using these links!
Begin at the Point Reyes Lighthouse
The Point Reyes Lighthouse is on the tip of the far western point of the Point Reyes Headlands and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Take Sir Frances Drake Blvd direct to the parking lot. From the parking lot, walk up a slight incline to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, open M-F 9:30 – 5. Enjoy the spectacular views from this observation deck. You can see Point Reyes Beach, Tomales Point, Bodega Head, Sonoma Coastline, and Mount St. Helena on a clear day. The Farallon Islands are to the south and Mt. Tamalpais, the Marin Headlands, and San Francisco are southeast.
Save your visit to the visitor center for the end because right now you are climbing down the 313 stairs to the lighthouse! Beware the high winds! Enjoy the journey down, take pics along the way, and don’t stress about the trip back up!
Know before you go
When To Go
I recommend you not stress about the weather here and come whenever you can! It is unpredictable due to the Bay, the hills, and the micro climates. The official warm months are June through October and cold months are December through February. Not to worry, there is plenty to do rain or shine. Just think layers and comfortable shoes! Point Reyes National Seashore can be windy, foggy, sunny, warm, and cold!!!
Where To Eat
Point Reyes Station has lovely restaurants, bakeries, cheese shops, and places to dine inside and outdoors. Here are some suggestions:
Point Reyes Roadhouse
Side Street Station
Station House Cafe
Toby’s Coffee Bar
Whale of a Deli
The nearest gas to Point Reyes Lighthouse is 20 miles away.
The nearest town to the Point Reyes Lighthouse is Point Reyes Station.
Cell reception is spotty at the Lighthouse.
There are bathrooms at the parking lots of the Lighthouse and the Chimney Rock Trail.
No pets are allowed on these trails.
No drones are allowed on these trails.
If you have a disabled parking placard you can open the chain at the road leading from the Lighthouse visitor lot to the Lighthouse road and drive 0.4 miles to the accessible parking lot.
The Lighthouse was built in 1870 to warn and protect sailors from the dangers of the region. Automatic light systems took over in 1975 and now the National Park Service takes care of the historic lighthouse. From this spot, you can see the huge nesting colony of the common murre, a bird that looks like a penguin! You can find sea lions lying on the rocks below and might see whales during the winter months.
Drive to Chimney Rock
Get back in the car and drive down Sir Francis Drake Blvd to Chimney Rock Rd. to the trailhead parking lot. The 1.75 mile hike to Chimney Rock is one of the most spectacular trails of the seashore. Water on both sides, rocky cliffs, sun, fog, sea lions, and wildflowers. All this in less than two miles! Look for the Chimney Rock Lifeboat Station and then at the tip of the trail look over the edge to find the rock, with a large chimney on it, perched in the vast Pacific Ocean.
Chimney Rock is the most popular spot to see the remarkable elephant seals. Follow the comfortable tail along the edge of the peninsula. You are immersed in Drakes Bay with some of the most pristine and breathtaking vistas in California.
Laguna Trail Loop
If you are looking to combine a bit of a longer hike then head to the Laguna Coastal Trail Loop. The 6 mile Laguna Coast Trail Loop is about an hour drive from the Lighthouse on Limantour Road. This trail offers a great experience of coastal views, wildlife, and meadows.
Time for lunch in
Point Reyes Station
The lovely town at the edge of the National Seashore is the historic and charming Point Reyes Station. It was the home to a railroad station until 1933 and is now is the sweet stop on everyone’s visit to the area. You will find some cute shops and great restaurants. Don’t miss the great bakery, local crafts, gifts, locally sourced cheese, jams, and chocolates!
Point Reyes Fun Facts
Over 45% of North American bird species have been sighted in Point Reyes.,
20% of California’s plant species grow in Point Reyes.
The Lighthouse was first lit in 1870.
The lighthouse is over 600 feet above sea level.
The lighthouse was built on a ledge blasted out of the rock with dynamite.
I’ll be heading back there soon and promise to add more pics as I discover more. Enjoy!