Pacific Coast / PCH, California
Ever since my baby was born, motherhood had kept me busy for the initial 4 months. Was bored staying indoors and was wondering what place to visit with my family. I had already been to most places around the Bay Area and was looking to visit some place very pristine which is stroller accessible (since I had to take my baby with me). Hence began my google search for places around Bay Area. Among places like the Muir Beach, Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands was this place called the Point Reyes National Seashore. Photographs of the place looked pretty alluring, but I wondered if the place was worth the drive (almost a 3 hr drive from Mountain View ) .
Well, my desperation to travel provoked me to pack my backpack for the journey. Still unsure of the journey, we set out on our trip to point Reyes at 10 am in the morning. We went en route the Golden Gate Bridge to further take the California Highway 1. Celebrated for its scenic beauty, Highway 1 was the route that would lead us to Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes is the only national seashore of the West Coast located approximately 30 miles from San Francisco.
After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge we found ourselves on Highway 1.At first we crossed Marin City to enter the Tamalpais Valley. All we saw in front of us were tall trees with the road meandering its way through the valley. Once the view in front of us cleared, the landscape was breathtaking! Ahead of us was the panoramic view of the Muir Beach. Highway 1 indeed does justice to its notoriety, I thought to myself. All I could see to my left was the endless vast Pacific Ocean. This was certainly not the first time I had seen a beach but I must admit that the winding roads and the steep rocky cliffs made the scene more awe-inspiring. To add to it, was the 11o’clock sun which shone right above the ocean. It made the water look like precious diamonds, whose sheen even the most shimmering earthly diamond could not match. The rocky cliffs could anytime mimic the cliffs of Ireland!The Muir beach was only the beginning of the beautiful stretch that we were to embark the rest of the journey on.For the next 7 miles, we were having an on and off view of the cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was as if the ocean was playing hide and seek with us. The next landmark we encountered was the Stinson Beach swathed in white sand. We did not stop at any of these beaches since our main destination was the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The Point Reyes Lighthouse has existed for over 130 years now and has provided direction to countless mariners in that expanse of the Ocean. Like any other lighthouse, this lighthouse is positioned approximately on a 300 feet high cliff that overlooks the Ocean.
Now coming back to our journey, after the Stinson beach we came across a picturesque lagoon called the Bolinas Lagoon. After we crossed the Bolinas Lagoon, we came across a series of little towns like Five Brooks, Olema and Iverness. Olema onwards Highway 1 took a minor turn which lead us to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at the very end of which is located the Point Reyes Light House. From this point we had to drive another 22 miles to reach our destination. On the way to the Lighthouse, we saw the Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve followed by the petite town of Inverness. From Inverness Sir Francis Drake took a left turn and thereon we were taken to a land of open pastures. These vast pastures seemed endless with extensive green grasslands inhabited by grazing cows. The Sir Francis Drake just did not seem to end. The drive seemed everlasting escorting us straight to no man’s land! Although we had a map with us, I for an instant, doubted my sense of direction. We stopped to ask a biker if we were on track, to which he nodded yes. After the assurance we continued on the road, but still the Lighthouse was nowhere to be seen. I felt relieved when at a distance I could see the rising sandstone cliffs of the Drake’s Bay. I knew that from here the Lighthouse was barely 5-6 miles.
At last we reached the parking lot, from where the Point Reyes Visitor Centre was a 0.5 mile walk uphill. The view from the Parking lot was magnificent and could be seen mostly throughout the walk uphill. Lighthouse was another 0.1 mile descent down some 300 odd stairs. I lost all control over myself on seeing the panorama before me! Down below was the Light house, positioned at the tip of the cliff with the infinite Ocean in the background. The waves glistened in the sunlight, slamming against the rocky bottom of the cliffs, splashing back and forth. The sun above the horizon shining at its fiery best, created a silhouette like effect making the shadowy frame of the Lighthouse visible to us. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs a gust of cool wind welcomed me. I went and stood near tip of the cliff (fenced of course)It felt somewhat like a dream. I could not help but feel that I was nothing but a mere speck in comparison to the Ocean yet the Ocean of Consciousness within me was equally cosmic as the Ocean that lay in front of me. .I felt physically, mentally and spiritually rejuvenated. I spent some quality lonesome time at the Lighthouse, took some photographs and climbed my way up. I agree the quick descent was triggered by the view , however the climb up the hill to the visitor center did not look appealing. And so it lived up to its expectation. The ascent uphill was very tedious although satisfying. Wanted to take my baby downhill but refrained from doing so as I did not want the winter chills to affect him. We thought of visiting the Drake’s bay too but planned otherwise since we wanted to reach home before dusk
Some essiential tips to the travel enthusiasts around Bay Area - I urge you to not limit your travelling instincts to San Fransisco and Golden Gate Bridge since there are lot of beautiful places to visit beyond the Golden Gate Bridge itself. Of which the Point Reyes National Seashore is one place. If planned appropriately one can easily cover the Point Reyes Lighthouse and Drake’s Beach overlooking which are magnificent sandstone cliffs. One can easily take babies to the Point Reyes Lighthouse with the help of a Baby Carrier and stroller (strollers can be taken uptill the visitor center only beyond which they need to be taken in a carrier). Also one needs to bear in mind that there are no eating joints at this place and the last moderately commercial place on the way is Olema and Inverness. Hence if one needs carry some food or visit the gas station, Olema is the place to do so. The Parking lot itself is a good picnic spot and is equipped with restrooms (although I will not speak for the hygeine maintained at the rest room.)
I now feel very content to have chosen a place like Point Reyes Lighthouse to travel to after spending a long engaging stay at home. I certainly agree that the Point Reyes Lighthouse is indeed one of the blissfully divine places I have ever visited!
This coastal highway winds along the scenic miles of California's coast. Both beaches and the rugged coastline can be seen. This is definitely the long way, but you can always pick a few stretches to hit the road. Some good choices include stretches near Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Muir Beach in Marin, Jenner in Sonoma County, and Mendocino. Enjoy the drive.
While visiting Point Reyes, you may check out this bay, which lies between the park and the coast. Here, the San Andreas Fault runs along the bay, from northwest to southeast. It's the only place where the fault is plainly visible on the map. The town there has a few good places to eat.
Cambria is known (or sold) as the "village of the artists".
This is still fully to be demonstrated, because it appears me as not artistic at all.
The point is actually, that I LIKED IT A LOT.
Just outside the Highway 101, heading north and before getting the route towards the coast and the Pacific Coast Highway, there is a tiny (and THIS is a surprise) road that brings to this lovely, small, peaceful village.
Not to sleep in, but deserving a visit. This is Cambria
The Native American Museum is very interesting at the entrance to this park with artifacts in excelllent condition. I didn't go into the park but spent the time it took my friends to take the gondolla ride, visiting the museum. It was a free tour for me but I think to view the trees is $11.
is not so off the 'beaten path' but it is in a rather undeveloped section of Big Sur coastline.
Here we see McWay Falls drop into an ocean cove. Don't miss this easy stop if you are coming down Hwy. 1 in central California.
The pleasure about cycling the Pacific coast is that every night you get a spectacular sunset, usually at dinner time or shortly after!
Enjoy, it's free...
To enhance your experience, make sure to camp in one of the many state parks that are located by the ocean...
This is the Lone Cypress that is depicted in the trademark of Pebble Beach. It's just one of many sites along the 17-Mile Drive on this peninsula. This drive provides access to many beautiful seaside views. However, they charged an $8 admission to drive our own vehicle on what I thought were public streets. I'm glad it was cheap. Although it was a nice drive, I'm not so sure it was even worth the lousy $8. Others may think otherwise. Try it for yourself and you decide.
Santa Barbara is a jewel. The city is located about one hour north of Los Angeles. It has a beautiful beach and a historic Spanish downtown. In the backcountry there are green hills and mountains. The sea breeze, the California sun and the beaches are reason enough for a long visit. Once you are there, stroll through downtown and climb up the tower of the old courthouse, which you can see on the photo to the left. The picture below the tower is the view over the city from the observation deck on top of the tower.
if your comming up US 101 there are many senic drives that paralel the main highway. don't be afraid to take them - you will see alot more big trees and nature and it won't cost much in time. Also hit trinadad harbor. nice quiet places to get food and lodging. everything from B&B's to RV camps - clean and cheap.
As you drive along Pacific Highway 1 (from LA to SanFran), DON'T FORGET to drop by Big Sur... (See pic below). Such FANTASTIC coastal scenery is too breathtaking for anyone to miss!!!!
Try the hot springs off Gaviota (About 50 miles north of Santa Barbara) if you are driving on the 1 or 101 from LA to San Francisco.
To get there, drive 101 North Freeway past Santa Barbara, past Gaviota, through the tunnel, then take the Highway 1 exit, and turn right (almost a U-turn) in the first intersection. 10 minute hike to Hot Springs, and if you really want a fantastic view you can continue the path upwards and hike to Gaviota Peak (About 3 hours up/down).
California! What is it that most people think of when they think of this state! For me it is the ocean! The Pacific ocean is a wonderful site...no matter how many times one views it! And though it is not 'off the beaten path' sometimes one would have to search out the path to view it!! This Beach photo is taken from the small town of Samoa California!! In the North!
The La Jolla Cave - located inside the La Jolla Shell Shop in La Jolla, just outside of San Diego. 114 steps down the inside of a cliff leads you to the mouth of a cave and a view of the ocean - gorgeous - and only one way down or out.
Watching whales passing close to the shore is something I'll recommend you. You may check one of the options for doing so on this page: