Western Trips

Western Trips

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Visit Beautiful Tomales Bay California

If you've traveled north of San Francisco California you surely know how beautiful the Pacific coastline is. There are so many tourist attractions in this area that visiting it can certainly last several days. One area that you'll want to add to your vacation or trip planner is the town of Tomales.

Tomales California, located in west Marin County, has a population of around 200 and is approximately a one and one-half hour drive from the city of San Francisco.

tomales bay mapGetting to Tomales From the San Francisco Area 

One way to reach Tomales from San Francisco is to go north on Hwy 101 over the Golden Gate Bridge and pick up Hwy 1 north of San Rafael. Another would be to go north of Hwy 101 to Petaluma, exit at Hwy 116 and  and then go west on Bodega Ave, Chileno Valley Rd and Tomales Petaluma Rd to Dillon Beach Rd in Tomales.

Visit Tomales Bay and Point Reyes National Seashore 

Tomales Bay

Before the Europeans landed in what is today northern Califorina, the Coast Miwok people were the first to reside in this coastal area of sheltered coves, beaches, tidal marshes, and forest of Bishop pines now known as Tomales Bay State Park, forty miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

tomales bay
Tomales Bay shore view
The park came into being after developers were buying up large parcels of land along the seashore during the 1940's. Conservation groups along with residents became involved and the result was the opening of Tomales Bay State Park in 1952. The park features four surf free beaches plus forests and meadows. Hikers will find some excellent trails at the state park. Two trails at the park include the Jepson Trail and the Johnstone Trail

Kayaking Tomales Bay 

One of the most popular places for kayaking is on Tomales Bay off Point Reyes National Seashore It is the largest unspoiled coastal embayment on the coast of California. Tomales Bay is a 15-mile long, 6780-acre tidal water body.

The bay is bounded mostly on the west by the Point Reyes National Seashore. Towns and villages around this area include Pt. Reyes Station, Inverness, Tomales, Marshall, and Dillon Beach.

Point Reyes National Seashore

The Point Reyes National Seashore is a must visit when you travel to the area of Tomales and west Marin County. Point Reyes National Seashore is a fascinating piece of land. Point Reyes is a beautiful outcropping of coastal land. The Point Reyes seashore is one of the most scenic on the west coast. Tomales Bay is adjacent to Point Reyes and is a popular place for boaters, fisherman and oyster lovers. Point Reyes Light House is a great photo stop when you're at the national seashore.

tomales california photo
View of village of Tomales
The Point Reyes headlands stick out about ten miles into the Pacific Ocean. This is the reason that the point had been very dangerous to mariners for well over 100 years. Any shipl leaving San Francisco Bay had to take serious note of the Point Reyes area. Historians list some eighty maritime accidents off Point Reyes claiming hundreds of seamen. Before the Point Reyes lighthouse could be built, a suitable flat site was blasted out of the rock about 300 feet below the cliff. This is the reason that visitors today must walk down the long steps to enter the lighthouse itself. Visiting the lighthouse is a fun part of exploring the Point Reyes National Seashore and if the day isn't foggy you'll be able to take some terrific photos of the rocky California coastline.

Visit the Tomales Regional History Center

The Tomales Regional History Center is located at 26701 Hwy 1, Tomales CA. The History Center is located in the auditorium of the old high school just south of the business district. As of this writing, the
hours are 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, and Sunday. The number for more information is (707) 878-9443.

The town of Tomales is notable for its collection of intact architecture, the diversity of which reflects the evolution of the village. The Tomales Regional History Center is the perfect venue to see the various types of architecture that the village is well known for. Queen Ann style, Craftsman homes, a Spanish Colonial Revival school, a Richardsonian Romanesque church and 20th century buildings have all graced this village. 

point reyes lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse on a foggy day
Built near the San Andreas Fault, the 1906 earthquake did considerable damage to Tomales and a large 1920 fire burned down several commercial buildings. Interestingly enough, Tomales kept a great deal of it's structural integrity and if you compare photos of early Tomales with those taken today you'll see a great deal of similarity. 

For a schedule of events and upcoming exhibits at the museum see website www.tomaleshistory.com/events.htm 

See the Western Trips articles on the links below for more northern California travel stops...

Coastal Hiking at Bodega Bay

Luther Burbank Home and Garden / Santa Rosa 

Aircraft of The Castle Air Museum / Atwater, CA

Tomales Bay Lodging

The lodging available along California's Tomales Bay is plentiful and diverse. There are unique B&B's, cottages directly on the shoreline and quaint hotels. Below are websites for several...


The next time you visit northern California and in particular the Bay Area, a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin County along the coastline on Hwy 1 is a trip into California's coastal beauty and history. Plenty of coastal sightseeing and outdoor activities makes this part of northern California a popular vacation destination.

(Article copyright 2014 Western Trips)

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