Are San Franciscans the luckiest city dwellers in the world? Within a two hour drive in three directions, they have natural escapes of such awe-inspiring beauty it’s hard to understand why they would ever stay in SF for a weekend. To the south, it’s the misty redwoods of Big Sur. To the northeast, the expansive, rolling vineyards of Napa and Sonoma. And to the northwest, miles of seriously amazing coastline. I mean, COME. ON. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live there, as I would spend every minute scheming how not to work.
Pt Reyes National Seashore is a phenomenal find for people who want rugged, unspoilt nature. You can walk for miles along a craggy, windswept peninsula, ocean on one side, Tomales Bay on the other, and you won’t encounter anyone else except for the resident elk.
You can shuck your own oysters at Tomales Bay Oysters. You can hole up in a luxurious, woodsy cabin like Manka’s Inverness Lodge or you can rent one of the waterfront bungalows at Nick’s Cove. Pick up cheese at Cowgirl Creamery, some bread and vegetables at Toby’s Feed Barn (and an awesome latte) and have a picnic. It’s laid back, capital L. On the way back to SF, take your time and cruise Highway One, a picturesque drive that takes you through some dramatic nature, and only south of Stinson Beach (surfer haven) does the road get REALLY windy (ahem, not good if you’re prone to nausea).
San Francisco is probably the chillest city you can return to. And chilliest. It was summertime and it brought with it the requisite fog. Still, we sat outside at Boulette’s Larder for clean market-sourced food and rose before strolling the food shops at the Fish Pier. We went over to Berkeley to taste some tapas at Cesar (and I had an incredible version of an old cocktail called the Corpse Reviver). The best meal, though, was at Delfina, along 18th St. For foodies, 18th St is heaven.
Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina serve up simple, well-executed Italian that makes you realize delicious food does not mean recreating the wheel, it means using really good ingredients in the best way possible. Bi-Rite Market and Creamery is an upscale grocery shop with lots of their own products, all beautifully merchandised. Their creamery does soft serve, sort of like a fancy Dairy Queen, with flavors like mexican chocolate and candied walnuts. Oh yum.
Tartine, a bakery on the corner, produces a beautiful loaf of bread- crusty on the outside, soft and pliable and delicious on the inside. Their double pain au chocolate is a lovely monster of chocolate and butter, the best combination possible. Am I singing praises too loudly? Maybe. But I ate very, very well in San Francisco.
WHERE TO GO:
PT Reyes National Seashore (stay in Pt Reyes Station, Inverness, or Tomales Bay)
High-End: Manka’s Inverness Lodge. Gorgeous, feels the Scottish Highlands. Would be amazing to hole up their for a weekend with someone you LOOOOVE.
Nick’s Cove: fun, definitely splurge for one of the waterfront rooms
Low End: there are tons of vacation rentals in the area for about $175 a night, including an beautiful cabin over the water. We booked late and stayed at the Motel Inverness, which is actually much nicer than a motel (sits on Tomales Bay, views of birds, water and cows grazing in the distance, room decor is 90s rustic, somewhere in between Pottery Barn and Home Depot. But it was a great location and affordable.
Osteria Stellina– It’s probably the nicest restaurant in Pt. Reyes Station. Organic produce and locally grown items find their way into simple, fresh Italian. We didn’t try the pizza but it looked fantastic.
Pine Cone Diner– Great for breakfast. Sit outside at the picnic tables, enjoy the brusque tough love service, order the Hangtown Fry and savor small town life. Read about it on yelp
Cowgirl Creamery, Toby’s Feed Barn: Artisanal goods made with love and meant for a picnic