If you’ve been following my instagram feed for the last few years, you may have noticed an extreme uptick in oyster consumption. This phenomenon is partially due to my frequent trips to Inverness, California.
By way of having a lot of friends who live in San Francisco, endless wedding season inevitably brings me to Napa at least once a year. There are so many healthy hedonist delights in this part of the country, beginning with the breathtaking scenery and ending with the bottle enjoyed while taking it in.
Needless to say, I’m very grateful for an excuse to visit so often. But by the end of these wedding weekends, thanks to the heavy wine pours, late night choruses of Shout, and over-feasting on wedding cake fondant (not to mention the 3,000 miles of travel to get there from NYC), I end up feeling strung out and exhausted.
Literal champagne problems.
So Charlie and I have developed a little travel tradition. And that’s to follow up the long weekend of friends and festivities with a few days of rest and relaxation (and oysters) in Inverness, California.
The Bay Area has some pretty impressive scenery (the vine-covered hills of Napa being towards the top of that list), but we’ve fallen particularly hard for this particular bay.
Inverness and the larger town of Point Reyes Station, which sits at the foot of Tomales Bay, is only an hour from both Napa Valley and San Francisco. Charlie, who is from the Bay Area, grew up going there for long weekends with his family. It’s one of his happy places, and I’ve happily adopted it as one of my own as we make new memories there together.
For anyone who’s looking to spend a few days surrounded by natural beauty, with equal parts outdoor activities and cozy relaxation, it’s the perfect getaway. And the tranquil Marin vibe, clean local cuisine, and small town feel, make it a great place to detox after the tourist hustle, bustle and hedonism of wine country.
Read on for some of my favorite things to do, places to stay, and more importantly, things to EAT (!!) in Inverness and the surrounding areas of Point Reyes Station and Tomales Bay.
From one healthy, Cali-loving hedonist, to another,
WHERE TO STAY: THE BEST HOTELS IN INVERNESS
Mankas: Our most recent trip included a few nights in one of Mankas’ amazing cabins. The rooms are outfitted with working fireplaces and big sleigh beds that will make you feel like you’re staying in the guest quarters of some Northern castle on Game of Thrones. The main lodge burned down a few years ago, which lead the owners to move check-in to a chrome RV out front. It only adds to the charm. And it didn’t hurt that we were greeted every morning with a breakfast crate on our doorstep. The box contained a covetable hipster metal thermos of coffee, mason jars of sugar and cream, and two bowls laden with fresh strawberries and homemade yogurt so smooth and fluffy, it might as well have been whipped cream. Heaven. It also inspired this recipe once I was home.
Airbnb: There are also some great AirBNB’s in the area, where you’ll be able to take advantage of all the fresh Marin county produce and buy wholesale oysters to shuck yourself. I stayed in this cute studio on one trip and loved it.
WHAT TO DO: THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN INVERNESS, TOMALES BAY AND POINT REYES STATION
Go for a hike at Point Reyes National Seashore: There are so many great trails in this 150 mile expanse of preserved seaside land. But my absolutely favorite is the Tomales Point Trail. It takes you through an elk preserve, which makes you feel like you’re hiking surrounded by Santa’s fleet. If you reach the end, you get an equally magical view of the bay. The trailhead is at the end of Pierce Point Road, a bit of a drive from town (45 minutes), but you’ll be greeted by some very happy Clover Organics cows on the way.
Catch some rays at Limantour Beach: If you like a good long beach walk, followed by a picnic lunch in the dunes, this is the perfect setting. It’s also a great place to camp out for the evening if you’re looking for more adventurous accommodations.
Go for a trail ride: One of my favorite ways to see the scenery of any beautiful place is at 30 miles per hour on the back of a pony! There are a few ranches on your way into town, and in the neighboring area of Olema that offer day rides.
Kayak in the bay: The waters of Tomales Bay, which separate Point Reyes Station town from the seashore around the bend are perfectly calm, and ideal for all manner of paddle sports. If you take a boat out a few hours before sunset, you’ll see magic hour at its finest.
WHERE TO EAT: THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN INVERNESS, TOMALES BAY AND POINT REYES STATION
Sir and Star at the Olema: For a more upscale meal in a cozy yet casual California setting, this restaurant was perfect. I ate local duck with frizzled broccoli, and they were incredibly accommodating with my strange request to have a fresh little gem salad as my dessert. If you’re staying at Mankas, inquire a few days before your stay about having the Sir and Star cater a cozy dinner in your room!
Saltwater: The theme of everywhere you eat in Inverness is oysters, and they don’t get better than at this neighborhood restaurant right by the bay. We had them broiled two ways, one slathered with bottarga butter and thyme, the other with house fermented chili butter. The seared steelhead didn’t disappoint either. Make sure to mosey across the street to check out the beautiful abandoned boat on the shore (see lead picture of this post).
Hog Island Oyster Company: One of the more well-known oyster farms on the west coast, Hog Island has a beautiful picnic area and serves out of this world grilled oysters with their signature chipotle-bourbon butter, which I’ve recreated for the site. It’s also very fun to watch them process the oysters straight from the sea as you enjoy a plate of their comrades!
Cowgirl Creamery: Cheese on cheese on cheese. You can peer through the glass and see all of cowgirl creamery’s signature cheeses being aged, and of course pick up a few rounds of Mt. Tam for the road.
Inverness Park Market: A great place to do a little organic grocery shopping or pick up a healthy sandwich for your beach picnic. They have gluten-free bread and lots of other options too.
ITINERARY: AN IDEAL WEEKEND IN INVERNESS CALIFORNIA
Friday, evening arrival
>> Check int o your hotel or Airbnb. (Hopefully) cCtch the sunset over the bay.
>> Grab casual oysters and local eats at Saltwater for dinner.
>> Pop across the street to check out the abandoned boat on the shore.
Saturday, beach + bay
>> Get an early start, pick up sandwiches at Inverness Park Market, and head to Limanteur beach. Relax in the dunes and enjoy a picnic lunch.
>> Drive through Point Reyes Station and pick up some edible souvenirs at Cowgirl Creamery.
>> Enjoy mid-afternoon oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company.
>> Siesta until dinner time.
>> Enjoy a special meal at Sir and Star in Olema.
Sunday, hike + head home
>>Gather your picnic provisions again and head to Point Reyes National Seashore. Spend the morning and afternoon hiking Tomales Point Trail. Pop by another stretch of beach on your way back to the hotel for check out, or en route back to SF.