Looking for the best things to do in Point Reyes?
The Point Reyes National Seashore is one of northern California’s most superb regions of coastal wilderness.
As a local, we are so fortunate to have Point Reyes so close by. Its a great place to visit and hike any time of the year.
It’s just 42 miles north of San Francisco! Enjoy a day trip and then keep going back to discover more on each adventure.
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 four things I recommend you do in Point Reyes.
Is Point Reyes worth it?
Absolutely worth the visit!
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.
Point Reyes is worth visiting for a day trip or a weekend getaway becasue it is so close to San Francisco and yet offers the sweeping coastal views and quiet lifestyle that can be a respit from the busy city.
People come for the great hikes, the quaint boutiques, great restaurants, and of course, the stunning combination of ocean and bay landscape.
Here are my recs for the 4 top things to do on your visit to Point Reyes
#1 Start with the Point Reyes Lighthouse
Enjoy the spectacular views from the up above the lighthouse at the observation deck.
From there 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.
Climb down the 313 stairs to the famous lighthouse. Beware the high winds! Enjoy the journey down, take pics along the way, and don’t stress about the trip back up!
Look for 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.
How do I get to 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.
The History of the Point Reyes Lighthouse
The Lighthouse was built in 1870 to warn and protect sailors from the dangers of the region. The lighthouse opperated for over 100 years keeping ships away fromt eh treacherous coastline.
Automatic light systems took over in 1975 and now the National Park Service takes care of the historic lighthouse as a museum.
#2 Take a 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 trail along the edge of the peninsula. You’re immersed in Drakes Bay with some of the most pristine and breathtaking vistas in California.
#3 Hike the 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 a 50 minute drive from the Lighthouse on Limantour Road. The trailhead is on the east end of Laguna Road in Point Reyes Station.
This trail is very popular becasue it offers a great experience of coastal views, wildlife, and meadows. Plan on 2.5 hours for this hike.
#4 When to Whale Watch in Point Reyes
If you’re lucky, you can see whales migrating throughout the year in the waters off Point Reyes.
Just watch from the coastline, along the bluffs and from the lighthouse. Some years are better than others for the sightings, but it’s worth a try!
Summer and Fall: Humpback whales, Blue Whales, Fin Whales are migrating.
Winter and Spring: Gray Whales are migrating.
All Year-Round: Minke Whales and Orcas are migrating.
When is the best time to go to
The official warm months are June through October.
The cold months are December through February.
Not to worry, there’s plenty to do rain or shine. Just think layers and comfortable shoes!
Point Reyes National Seashore can be windy, foggy, sunny, warm, and cold!!!
I recommend you not stress about the weather here and come whenever you can! It’s unpredictable due to the Bay, the hills, and the micro climates.
The Best Places to Eat in Point Reyes
Point Reyes Station has lovely restaurants, bakeries, cheese shops, and places to dine inside and outdoors. Here are the best spots:
~ Bovine Bakery
~ Cafe Reyes
~ Cowgirl Creamery
~ Palace Market
~Point Reyes Roadhouse
~ Side Street Station
~ Station House Cafe
~ Toby’s Coffee Bar
~ Whale of a Deli
Point Reyes Tips
~ 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.
Point Reyes Fun Facts
~ In 1962 JFK established Point Reyes as a National Seashore.
~ 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.
~ It’s over 600 feet above sea level.
~ And was built on a ledge blasted out of the rock with dynamite.
~ Also in the Point Reyes National Seashore is the remarkable Alamere Falls – a water fall on the beach!
~ The lighthouse moved 18 feet north during the 1906 earthquake!
Now you know all about the 4 best things to do in Point Reyes, California!
In a nutshell…
Point Reyes is well worth a visit becasue of its unique natural beauty and access to outdoor adventures for every traveler.
From exploring the rugged coastline and pristine beaches to hiking through ancient forests and observing wildlife in its natural habitat, Point Reyes has something for the whole family.
Nature enthusiasts, foodies, and wine lovers can all relax in this gorgeous part of Northern California.
Take your girlfriends, take the kids, or just go by yourself. You won’t be sorry!