The Unforgettable Beauty of Point Reyes

Bright sun on the rolling grass, deer and elk standing proudly on the hills, beautiful black and white cows calmly patrolling the meadows, elephant seals barking noisily, wild expanses of  rough sea… This is what we were treated to during a weekend get-away at one of California’s best, Point Reyes National Seashore.

Incredible, isn't it? (And elephant seals on lower right beach)

We made this trip with my older son, who was about 19 months old at the time. It is a magnificent place for children to explore but is by no means a children’s destination. It is raw nature and beauty that anyone will love.

Where exactly it is...and Tomales Bay is the skinny body of water between Point Reyes and Marin County

The drive was 2 hours from our house in Sacramento. That’s about the limit of sane driving with a toddler. We rented a small house overlooking Tomales Bay with my father and stepmother.

Vacation rental Point Reyes

I believe that renting a house when traveling with kids is the best choice. The house gave us the freedom to do what we wanted without worrying about other guests. The space outside was lovely– we played ball and walked to the beach to throw rocks a couple time a day.

Like many houses on the coast of California, this one was rustic and had floor-to-ceiling windows to take full advantage of the view.

Tomales Bay house rental

Overlooking Tomales Bay

A kitchen is a must when vacationing with children. My dad prepared pancakes for breakfast just as he would at home– it was easier and cheaper than going out and made my son happy.

Tomales Bay house rental

A view of Tomales Bay in the backyard

The peninsula is a lot larger than one might imagine.  Our first stop was one of the peninsula’s rugged beaches.

Point Reyes beach

A wild and beautiful beach on the Point Reyes peninsula

I probably don’t need to tell you how excited my son was about being on the beach for the first time.

Point Reyes

My son and his grandparents

Because the peninsula is so large, we had to come back to explore further and visit the lighthouse. The weather on the coast of California is notoriously moody. We got a bit unlucky because it was an unusually windy day… and here that means there was some serious wind! But at least we had all sun and no dense fog, which is so common here in the summer.

Point Reyes

Hold on!

Point Reyes

But who cares about the wind when you get views like these?

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes

A view of the Pacific

Winter and early spring in California is whale-watching time. We were there at the very end of the migration season. We looked and looked but saw none. Maybe next time…

This lighthouse, on the tip of the peninsula jutting way out into the sea, seems like a crazy place to work. It was built in 1870 and used for more than 100 years. Heavy fog in this area means visibility can dip to little more than one hundred feet, so it was a dangerous place for ships going to and from San Francisco.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Two deer checking us out

Point Reyes deer

Here it's harder to see them as they ran away. What a place to live!

A view from the car. I could have driven around there all day. So gorgeous.

Point Reyes beach

The pure beauty of this place reminds me of why I love living in California. And the ease of taking our son along reminds me of why I love traveling with my kids.

Have you been to Point Reyes National Seashore? If so, what was your experience like?

What places do you love for their have wild, rugged nature?

(Photo credits: all the photos are mine except the first two, which are from Wikimedia Commons).

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22 Comments

  • Cindy says:

    What a wonderful post, Jenna! We also had a fantastic getaway in Point Reyes (camping with our airstream in Olema). The restaurants in Point Reyes Station are great, the museum & surrounding hikes were a treat, and the beaches were spellbinding. Loved thinking about Sir Francis Drake landing there!
    http://www.nps.gov/pore/historyculture/collections.htm
    We can’t wait to go back – and your post is very inspiring! 🙂

    • Jenna says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the link to the story. I will definitely check it out. The coast of CA has so much history that most of us are not aware of!

  • Stephen says:

    Beautiful and geologically/geographically very interesting…with the fault line running right through it.

    • Jenna says:

      I should have mentioned the fault line. I wanted to do the hike that goes over/on the fault line but ran out of time. I will do it when I return there next time.

  • What a great getaway. Looks like your cottage was in a perfect location to enjoy the views and the area. Nice to see your family in the photos, too!

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks, Cathy. Yes, the cottage was in a great location. Hard not to be in such a beautiful area!

  • Yes I have been to Point Reyes and the lighthouse! We spent a wonderful day touring all around. You had amazing weather- clear beautiful sun is hard to come by during the summer. I find the coast/beaches in Northern CA to be VERY cold but scenic.

    • Jenna says:

      We were actually there in early spring, so that is why we had sunny (but windy!) days. Sorry if my mention of the fog above was confusing. I have not explored a lot of the northern coast but have heard the same– cold but very beautiful!

  • Leigh says:

    I love the rustic getaways with floor to ceiling windows and great views. Somehow even a short get away feels much longer – and what a beautiful area. I’ve only spent a few hours there but obviously need to go back.

    You have a very cute son too BTW.

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks, Leigh. There is quite a lot to do there, so even though we had 3 days, I left feeling like I need to return and explore more.

  • Denise says:

    I always find ocean/sea shots especially captivating!

  • Laurel says:

    I haven’t been to Point Reyes but would love to go, the views of the coast look incredible!

  • Sophie says:

    Never been north of San Francisco (in California, that is), but this looks so windy and rough and simply gorgeous. Your son looks adorable!

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks, Sophie. I haven’t explored all the coast of Northern California, but I have heard that it is rough, wild, and really beautiful.

  • Shakeela Mirzad says:

    Hi Jenna! These pictures are sooo beautiful. I was looking at them with my two kids. I wish I could go there someday! I was one of your students in CRC.

  • Charu says:

    So beautiful Jenna! I love the color of the sea and the raw beauty of the landscape. It reminds me a bit of the Monterey ocean, although the coastline is far, far different. What a lovely idea to rent a cottage too…very English.
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    • Jenna says:

      I hadn’t thought of it being English, but I like that 🙂 The landscape is beautiful on this part of CA’s coast. In fact, I wish I were there now!

  • Wow- what a wonderful looking place. It just went on our CA trip list.

  • Cindy Topete says:

    I am handicapped and was wondering if the trip down to the light house was all stairs? Are there any handicap ramps.

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Cindy,
      That’s a good question. I remember seeing only stairs, but actually, they were closed on the day we were there due to high winds, so I’m not sure if there is a ramp or not. You should be able to find out this information by accessing the Point Reyes official site.

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