Side Trip from San Francisco: Things to do in West Marin

The city of San Francisco is known around the world, but cross the Golden Gate Bridge and in less than an hour’s drive you can leave city life behind. Home to the West Coast’s only national seashore, West Marin is may be best known for its beaches, but there’s plenty here for folks not interested in getting their feet sandy.

Get started by fueling up in Point Reyes Station at Cowgirl Creamery. It’s an ideal spot to stock up on tasty supplies, but there’s also a great opportunity to learn about the art of cheese making. Large windows allow a nice peak whenever cheese is in production. But every Friday they offer a couple Cheese 101 Classes. They’re just $5, and held at both 11am and 2pm. Samples are plentiful during the hour-long class, but you’ll also learn the science involved in cheese making. Make reservation online ahead of time, but if you’re there and it’s sold out, it never hurts to ask. They try to fit everyone in.

After all that cheese, some wine might sound nice. Heidrun Meadery is a quick and easy drive on Highway 1, a half mile north of Point Reyes. If you’ve never had mead before, it’s wine made from honey instead of grapes. Heidrun is a great spot for a mead introduction; they produce sparkling meads using the traditional French Méthode Champenoise. The blooms bees visit for nectar impacts the honey, which ultimately dictates the flavor of the mead. Tours are typically available only on weekends, but tastings are offered seven days a week.

Time to get outside and moving – on horseback. The Point Reyes National Seashore has more than 80 miles of coastline, but there’s also about 150 miles of hiking trails that highlight a variety of scenery. Five Brooks Ranch offers group trail rides ranging from an hour to six hours in length. So you can decide how long you want to bump along. Riders have to be at least six years old, but all levels are welcome.

You should save a little time to hit the sand. Drakes Beach got the attention of many about a year ago during the United States government shutdown, when a colony of elephant seals took over. Pupping season is in the winter, but elephant seals visit Point Reyes beaches throughout the year, so keep a lookout. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for Tule Elk as well. They have a way of popping up when you least expect it. Somewhere around 400 are said to roam the park.

For more about Dana’s adventures and writing, follow her on Instagram @danarebmann and Twitter @drebmann. You can also visit her website.

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