Your starting point for the best of West Marin and beyond
Olema House is an ideal starting point for great adventure and exploration throughout Point Reyes, Tomales Bay, Marin County and the North Coast. Conveniently located beside 71,000 acres of Point Reyes National Seashore Park, this inspiring getaway is just a short drive from premier hiking and cycling trails, excellent birdwatching and some of the most picturesque beaches Northern California has to offer.
Our team prides itself on being local experts, attuned to the area’s wide range of activities, attractions and secret spots. We’d love to share our recommendations with you to arrange a personalized itinerary tailored to your specific interests.
A visit to Point Reyes wouldn’t be complete without taking in some of the year-round activities that make it one of the Northern California’s most popular destinations.
Area Education | Birding | Beaches | Cycling | Food and Farm | Hiking and Walking | Horseback Riding | Kayaking | Lighthouse | Pacific Ocean | Redwoods | Shopping | Tasting | Tide Pooling | Whales | Wildflowers | Wildlife | Yoga | Zen
The stunning Point Reyes National Seashore Park deserves a page all its own—click here for details
Point Reyes National Seashore Association provides naturalist hikes and educational classes about the park. Whether your goal is to observe wildlife, hike the trails, expand your artistic horizons or visit iconic landmarks, Point Reyes offers a wealth of activities for all ages and interests. 415-663-1200 x307; www.ptreyes.org
The Point Reyes area is a birder’s delight. Bring your binoculars and your favorite bird book (or purchase one from us).
Be sure to check out some of our favorite spots:
Abbott’s Lagoon: This freshwater pond is host to land birds during the spring and fall migrations. Shore birds can be viewed at the saltwater lagoon, and raptors on the walk to the shore.
Olema Marsh: A bird sanctuary located very close to the hotel, this is where you’ll spy two rail species, ducks, grebes, and raptors.
If you prefer to forego the walk, try birdwatching while enjoying a cup of tea from the comfort of a back-lawn chair. Watch for our quail, hummingbirds and a large variety of songbirds.
If you’re looking to dip your feet in some white sand and salty water, try Limantour Beach on Point Reyes National Seashore, a spectacular 20-minute drive from Olema House. Over three miles of white sand backed by dunes and esteros offer a variety of beach pleasures. Heart’s Desire Beach in Tomales State Park, a golden sandy crescent edged by lawn and picnic tables with baby waves for the kids, is another favorite.
Marin County—and Point Reyes and West Marin in particular—is famous for its abundance of both road- and mountain-biking terrain. Miles and miles of options for either style of bike is available from a starting point at Olema House.
The Marshall Wall, Ridgecrest Boulevard and Fairfax/Bolinas Road are just a few of the well-known treks for cyclists. Novice or advanced rides can begin at our front door.
Mount Tamalpais and cycling in Point Reyes originally inspired pioneers like Charlie Kelly, Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher and Tom Ritchie to build bikes for rough-mountain terrain. Bolinas Ridge and Fir Top Pine Mountain can be experienced during a stay at Olema House. In addition, Samuel P. Taylor Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marin Municipal Water District lands and the Point Reyes National Seashore are home to miles of trails. From simple, family-friendly trails to more strenuous workouts, visitors are sure to find what they’re looking for in this area.
Food and Farm
West Marin Food and Farm Tours provides guided tours throughout West Marin, with a focus on the food industry. They integrate restaurants, wineries and farms in a chauffeured package. 415-599-9222; www.foodandfarmtours.com
Hiking and Walking
With thousands of acres located in six nearby park systems and monuments, the trails—and possibilities— are endless. Ask for a recommendation and a map at the front desk upon check-in.
With over 120 miles of horse trails, including beach trails and mountaintops, Five Brooks Stables in Olema offers a full service riding stable for the entire family. Whether you’re looking for guided trail rides, private rides, hay wagon rides, pony rides, lessons or horse boarding, Five Brooks offers it all.
Tomales Bay is a wilderness haven for kayakers. Rent a boat from Blue Waters Kayaks, Point Reyes Outdoors Company or bring your own. Both companies offer naturalist-led public and private tours, as well as kayaking classes.
Blue Waters is a rental and guided tour company offering kayaking tours and rentals, mountain bike rentals, and paddle board rentals. 415-669-2600; www.bluewaterskayaking.com
Point Reyes Outdoors is an organization much like Blue Waters, but with a deeper emphasis on the naturalist viewpoint. They offer Kayaking tours, mountain bike rentals, and guided hikes. 415-663-8192; www.pointreyesoutdoors.com
The Historic Point Reyes Lighthouse is located on the tip of the Point Reyes Peninsula. Originally built in 1870 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this is the best place to see the whale migration. Located on a jutting cliff side, the lighthouse offers a stunning visual tableau, as well as an unusual physical challenge. More than 300 steps lead down to the lighthouse. It may be easy enough going down, but it’s like climbing a 30-story building coming back up!
This part of Northern California offers several beaches to enjoy. Take in overhead views of the rugged coast, soft rolling waves and sunsets as you gaze at miles and miles of ocean and beach.
Muir Woods National Monument, close to Olema House and open year-round, is located in an isolated canyon a 20-minute drive from Olema House at Point Reyes. John Muir thought Muir Woods to be the best tree-lovers monument in the world, with some trees dating back over 1,000 years and towering 260 feet into the sky. Samuel P. Taylor Park, about five minutes from Olema House, is also home to coastal Redwoods and offers hiking trails and picnic sites.
Point Reyes is known for fresh, locally produced oysters, cheeses and wines and organic farming. Many local companies have received awards for their delicious, farm-fresh products. Due West Market, located next to Olema House, offers many of these items for sale. The Cheese Factory in Petaluma is another nearby attraction.
Enjoy browsing in the local stores for the perfect keepsake, whether it’s art, jewelry or a colorful T-shirt. From boutiques to barns, Olema House at Point Reyes has no shortage of shops to recommend.
Sit, savor and indulge in McEvoys indoor and outdoor tasting room, where wines are paired with Tuscan style olive oil. Heidrun Meadery produces naturally sparkling varietal meads using the traditional French Méthode Champenoise.
Explore the microcosms of ocean life left behind when the tide recedes from the beach, creating little marine worlds among the rocks. The best tidepooling zones are up at McClure’s Beach and down at Sculptured Beach. Arrive an hour or so before low tide for optimal views of mussels, barnacles, starfish, limpets, sea anemones, crabs, snails and countless other creatures.
Whale watching season begins in November, with the southern migration of the California gray whales leaving for warmer waters in Baja. Prime viewing is typically between Christmas and the end of January. The whales’ return to their Alaskan feeding grounds begins in February, with prime viewing in late March and April. The Point Reyes Lighthouse is the best spot from which to see them, but be forewarned: weekends are high traffic for whale-watchers, so prepare for the park service shuttle buses to take you from Drake’s Visitor Center out to the lighthouse.
The looping path at Chimney Rock is usually overrun by blooming wildflowers from the end of April through early summer. After the spring rains, wildflowers near Olema House can’t wait to enjoy the sunshine. Poppies, lupines, mission bells, sagebrush, buttercups, coast fiddlenecks… the list is endless. And with so many different regions to investigate, you’ll enjoy the challenge of trying to see them all.
Rated the number one outdoor activity north of San Francisco, with over 200 five-star reviews, Point Reyes Safaris offers wildlife viewing and photography safaris in Point Reyes National Seashore. www.pointreyessafaris.com 303-929-8443
Point Reyes Tours offers daily trips through Point Reyes National Seashore. The tour visits the park’s major attractions, including the lighthouse, and makes stops at scenic overlooks, taking in some of the famous wildlife like the tule elk and elephant seals. www.pointreyestours.com 303-929-8443.
Yoga Toes is a cozy studio located just up the road in Point Reyes Station. Classes are led by local, independent yoga teachers. 415-663-9999; www.yogatoesstudio.com. Or, just bring your mat to a secluded area of the park in the bright sun or during sunset while the ocean roars and the gulls cry.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center is located just minutes away in San Geronimo Valley and offers classes, lectures and guided meditation for those interested in Buddhist thought and practice. For those seeking more of a “retreat” experience, the Green Gulch Zen Center is about 20 minutes south of Olema House on Highway One.