There is a wonderful stretch between the last few weeks of July and into August where there is a little span of calm before the next storm. I love this time of year. Summertime should be enjoyed and languished in, if at all possible. Go smell the roses, I am!
My parents came for a visit two weeks ago and we did a lovely tour around Sonoma County. I've lived in this area for four years and am finally settling into it and exploring. If you are in the area or visiting, I highly recommend this drive.
Starting point - Sebastopol. We drove out Hwy 12 (to Bodega) to Wild Flour Bread Bakery 140 Bohemian Highway, Freestone, CA - http://www.wildflourbread.com/ - Hours: 8:30am to 6:00pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday, & Monday. I don't know if I can describe how good this place is, there was and always is a line out the door. The scones are mind-blowing and their garden is absolutely beautiful. If you’ve ever driven by, you’ve smelled their baked goods baking – stop next time!
The little Antique Store & Gift Shop next door Enduring Comforts was the shopping hit of our outing. My Mom (a high-ranking member of the Retail Therapy Royal Line) was impressed and kept saying that it was the best store we saw all day and she can't wait to come back. Thea who owns the store is lovely, has a great eye and gives 10% of all new (non-antique) items across the board. A GREAT place to buy gifties.
We then jumped on the Hwy 1 to make our way to Point Reyes National Seashore and Point Reyes Station - My husband and I have made this trip a number of times with family and friends - it is a great day trip from North Bay or San Francisco. There are terrific places to stop for amazing seafood, shops and sightseeing along the way…
We sat along the Bay and had a dozen BBQ & Chorizo Oysters on the half shell and a super creamy bowl of New England Style Clam Chowder at The Marshall Store - 19225 State Route 1. This place is great, tons of locals with their dogs, cyclists, Harley riders, and more - it seemed like everyone was coming here for a moment of bivalve bliss.
The drive from the Marshall Store out to the Bear Valley Visitors Center, Point Reyes National Seashore is stunning (and it was a grey, cloudy day). Rolling hills, 1 block towns with a post office and general store, and the smell of eucalyptus and the sea, twas de-licious.
Bear Valley Visitor Center open: weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and weekends and holidays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays open until 6:00pm through September 4, 2010.
All campsites are accessible only by hiking, biking or horseback for the backcountry sites, and only by kayak or boat for the Tomales Bay sites. There is no car or RV camping available in the park. And is by PERMIT ONLY.
We then headed out to Drakes Beach and the Kenneth Patrick Visitor Center
Allow 30 minutes for the drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
- From the Bear Valley Visitor Center, head north 0.2 miles (0.3 km) to Bear Valley Road.
- Turn left and follow Bear Valley Road 1.75 miles (2.8 km) northwest to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
- Turn left and follow Sir Francis Drake Boulevard 13.4 miles (21.4 km) west to Drakes Beach Road. Tip: Follow road signs for “Lighthouse” until you see a sign for Drakes Beach.
- Turn left and follow Drakes Beach Road 1.6 miles (2.6 km) south to the Drakes Beach parking lot.
Drives like this on the West Coast make me utterly thankful that the U.S. has park services, land trusts and conservationists.
After taking in the ocean and of all things a Gopher on the beach… we headed back inland to Point Reyes Station, a lovely town with great shopping, a one-of-a-kind dive bar/tavern, and the fantastic Cowgirl Creamery.
Cowgirl Creamery - They just came out with a new cheese - 'Wagon Wheel' which is made with milk from neighboring Straus Family Creamery at their new First Street Creamery in Petaluma and aged on site for two months. It is AWESOME for a raclette (if you don't know what this is you should it’s the Swiss version of fondue). The purveyors are knowledgeable and generously provide endless samples.
In 1997, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith opened Cowgirl Creamery in an old barn, made it beautiful, put in a small plant for making hand-crafted cheese, bought organic milk from the neighbor, Straus Family Creamery... and the rest is history!
Old Western Saloon - This place gets 5 out of 5 darts on the dive bar dartboard rating scale. Built in 1890, ‘tis a real live Western saloon with swinging doors, original cash-only cash register, gorgeous stained glass, potbelly fire burning stoves, pool tables, darts, live music, excellent jukebox, and colorful locals. First time we went in a few years ago was during the holidays. My husband and I were all alone chatting with the bartender. Unbeknownst to us it was Toys for Tots days for 3 of the local Harley crews - and the saloon was a pit stop -all at once we were surrounded by black leather and facial hair - it was awesome and we had a blast talking with the lot.
Toby's Feed Barn - I love this place - who combines a feed store, art gallery, great gifts and organic produce? The Giacomini family who opened and has run the place since 1942, that’s who! They host a myriad of events, concerts and fundraisers for the community… heck, Alice Waters spoke there last weekend. This is a classic California gem; don't miss it…and the guys that work there are super sweet.
Last but not least on our trip was dinner - we stopped back by one of our favorites (my parents fell in love with this place). Nick's Cove - http://www.nickscove.com/ - 23240 State Route 1, Marshall, CA
The food was stellar, it always is… Dungeness Crab Cakes with Meyer Lemon Aioli, I had the Grilled Hanger Steak - which was perfectly cooked. My Mom had the whole Branzino with caramelized fennel. Also good is a quick drive up to Nick's for Oysters and Bloody Mary's, which rock as well.
All-in-all a GREAT day trip. Let me know if you take it sometime and have any stops to add!