The picture of a perfect summer in California pretty much paints itself – gorgeous beaches for lazing and playing, #nofilter scenery and the seemingly infinite possibilities for wonderful adventures in big cities, small towns and all the exciting places in between. Up at HI Point Reyes hostel, the warmer weather means picturesque days amongst the wildflowers and wildlife in the national park, plus a host of fun things to see and do. Since we know that the best part of traveling is getting those insider tips and hitting up the lesser known spots, we asked Hanna Morris, General Manager of HI Point Reyes, to fill us in on how to make the most of summer in this corner of California.
Things to Do in Point Reyes in Summer
Watch the fog roll in from the top of Mount Tamalpais
A hike in Mount Tamalpais State Park is a rewarding experience even before you get to the peaks that expose the beauty of the Bay Area from panoramic overlooks. In the summer, it’s especially magical because while San Francisco is blanketed in its infamous fog, you can watch the smoky mist roll in from the top of the world – or at least, the top of Mount Tam, as the locals call it. From the very peak of the mountain, you should be able to see Farallon Island, the East Bay and most of the San Francisco Bay.
Tip: The park is about 45 minutes from HI Point Reyes. Get there early, especially weekends when it gets a little crowded.
Sip on local mead at Heidrun Meadery
Mead might conjure up images of pirates and old-timey taverns, but you can sample some in this century at Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes Station. The meadery has upped the ante on the honey wine by producing a sparkling, Champagne-like version, which guests can sample on the scenic farm after taking a tour of the facility to see how honey turns into the perfect summery drink. The flowers from which the bees get the nectar, and the honey bees themselves are all on site, so you get to experience the process from its very beginning to the end.
Tip: You can skip the tour and tasting and just enjoy a glass or bottle of mead on the serene garden patio.
You’re absolutely spoilt for choice up at the Point Reyes National Seashore when it comes to picking a picnic spot. For a start, HI Point Reyes hostel has an excellent patio with a grill and front garden if you don’t want to venture too far away and would still like to enjoy some al fresco dining. Otherwise, there are nearby trails that lead to sweet spaces and Limantour Beach, which is about two miles from the hostel. Pick up some supplies at Point Reyes Station (or down in Mill Valley before you head to the hostel to save a little bit of money) and wile away an afternoon soaking up the sun.
Tip: There is a picnic area with barbecue grills across the driveway from the Bear Valley Visitors Center.
Eat oysters at Hog Island, Marshall
Oysters are a favorite local delicacy, and if you’d like to have a quintessential Point Reyes summer experience, Hog Island Oyster Farm in Marshall is where to go. The outdoor café, which is also a sustainable shellfish producer, serves up oysters, breads, cheeses and drinks on long communal tables perfect for striking up conversation and making new friends. You can get fully immersed in the experience and shuck your own oysters, plus you can bring your own additional picnic goodies and drinks so you can splurge a little on the seafood. Or you could have all the shucking done for you so you can simply enjoy the sweet scenery and festive vibe.
Tip: Reservations are highly recommended, so book your table as soon as you book your stay at HI Point Reyes!
Build a beach fire
“Get your permit from the Bear Valley Visitor Center earlier that day and head down to the beach for sunset!” says Hanna. “When you’re ready, build your fire and listen to the waves as you relax in the darkness.” Warm nights are made for beach fire bonding, and on clear nights, you can enjoy another essential summer activity in Point Reyes – stargazing. Away from all the light pollution of a city, the sky opens up into a twinkly blanket and you can reconnect with the earth since you’ll be disconnected from everything else not in your immediate surroundings.
Tip: Remember to douse your fire with water and make sure the coals are completely cool at the end of the night.
Snack on some ice cream
Specifically, “grab a cone of Double 8 Dairy buffalo milk gelato from the deli in Palace Market and stroll the streets of Point Reyes,” as Hanna suggests. That’s right, the favorite summer time treat is made with buffalo milk, which makes for a creamy, rich gelato to indulge in as you walk around the quaint little California town. Point Reyes Station is pretty much the definition of charming with its Main Street and cute stores, and as you walk around enjoying your ice cream, you may feel like you’ve stepped into the perfect summer moment.
Tip: Double 8 Dairy buffalo milk gelato is available in various stores and restaurants in Marin as well.
HI USA tip: Feeling inspired by all the beautiful sights? Take a look at how you can get arty in Point Reyes.
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