For us, the hallmarks of Autumn are being comforted by food and nature. If no one were looking, we’d cozy up in a cabin in the country and eat pie all day. That’s where Point Reyes comes in handy. With its pastoral scene of rolling hills, quaint 19th century towns and exceptional food, it’s the ultimate Fall getaway.
West Marin is filled with natural splendor, but none more dramatic than Point Reyes National Seashore. Try the picturesque Abbotts Lagoon trail for an easy introduction. It’s a level stroll through meadows kept vibrant green from the constant spray of coastal fog. You’ll end up at an expansive, windswept beach where said fog lends an otherworldly aura. You know you’re somewhere special when every other person has a photojournalist’s camera slung ’round their neck. Sibley nuts take note: it’s a birding mecca this time of year.
The newly opened Sir + Star should be a highlight of your trip. Housed in an 1870s inn painted a dramatic charcoal gray, it features a minimal interior of plank floors, artful taxidermy and tree branches that cast shadows from free-standing candelabras. It feels like the home of some particularly hip Shakers. Dishes are refined versions of rustic comfort. A thick cut of local smoked salmon is topped with salt-cured marsh greens (yep, as in what you hiked by earlier) and a quail over rich, savory dressing is possibly the best poultry dish you’ve eaten. Special occasion or regular Sunday night, dining here is a treat.
If you closed your eyes and pictured what brunch heaven might look like, you’d probably envision Saltwater. It’s a modern seafood shack in Inverness with a sunny — and heated — deck that peeks over Tomales Bay. Raw oysters are like precious art forms so pristine you almost feel bad devouring them. Cooked oysters raise the bar with bacon, basil and brown butter. Add a vibrant panzanella salad and a glass of rosé and call it a very good day.
Afterwards, duck into the next door Blackbird for a rich Snickerdoodle Pie cookie. Take it across the street for an up-close view of Tomales Bay and a requisite Instagram of a rusty, grounded boat.
Marin Sun Farms needs no introduction to Bay Area foodies who tout their high-quality, pasture-raised meats. In a stroke of genius, they took an adjacent lot and propped-up tables, plunked down hay bales and created the perfect country setting for their meat-centric menu. Try the lamb burger topped with manchego, chimichurri and a glorious lamb bacon. They also pour flights of cult wines from Bolinas-based Sean Thackrey. If you made this your only stop, your trip would be a success.
Source the picnic of your dreams at Tomales Bay Foods . All manner of cheese, wine, bread, and spreadables fill this former hay barn. It’s also the original home of beloved Cowgirl Creamery. Picture windows display future deliciousness in the form of resting Red Hawk rounds, a cheese unique to Point Reyes thanks to a native bacteria.
For a casual meal, try Cafe Reyes for delicious wood-fired pizza. Skip the sparse dining room for a seat on the back patio and enjoy a gorgeous backdrop of Point Reyes’ forested ridgeline and moody, shape-shifting clouds.
You’ll love Osteria Stellina for it’s well-executed Italian fare and easy going vibe. The food speaks to its surroundings with hearty dishes like braised meats and pastas. The wine list shuns the locavore gods and boldly goes overseas in search of minerality. Servers are relaxed, knowledgeable and friendly. You’ll have a difficult time not being happy here. When we went, it was to celebrate an anniversary. Hence, the camera only came out to take a picture of the complimentary dessert they sent out. Aww.
This post is a modified version of an article that was originally published in Marina Times, October 2013.