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8 Incredibly Scenic Things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Discover some of the best things to do in Point Reyes, California from stunning hikes and wildlife encounters to breathtaking coastal vistas.

Best Things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Located about an hour north of San Francisco, in Northern California’s Marin County, Point Reyes National Seashore is a vast expanse of protected coastline offering spectacular oceanside scenery, wildlife, and in the spring, amazing wildflowers. Here are the top things to do in Point Reyes, California.


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Best Time to Visit Point Reyes

Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California

Point Reyes is beautiful any time of year. One of my favorite times to visit Point Reyes National Seashore is in the spring when the entire park is green and filled with wildflowers. It's also relatively quiet as far as the crowds, especially on a weekday, allowing you to experience a bit of solitude on trails.  

 

1. Tomales Point Trail

Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes California

Wildflowers along the Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes California
April Wildflowers along the Tomales Point Trail

The Tomales Point Trail is a 9.5 out-and-back hike that offers some of the best ocean views in the park.  It’s also one of the best places in Point Reyes to spot Tule Elk. We saw elk all along the trail when we went. And in the spring, the Tomales Point trail is covered in wildflowers.


The trail is on the longer side but relatively flat and easy. Note that parts of it are a bit untamed. (Lots of overgrowth on a tight trail is the best way I can describe it).

 

2. Wildlife

Tule Elk in Point Reyes National Seashore
Tule Elk on the Tomales Point Trail

Point Reyes National Seashore is home to a diverse array of wildlife due to its unique coastal and terrestrial habitats. In addition to spotting plenty of Tule Elk around Tomales Point, I saw deer, quail, coyotes, and seals during my visit. You might spot a bobcat or whale off the coast if you're lucky!

 

3. Chimney Rock Trail

Wildflowers at Chimney Rock in Point Reyes
Wildflowers at Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock Trail in Point Reyes California

At only 1.8 miles out and back, Chimney Rock is a short and easy hike, and like Tomales Point, has incredible coastal scenery and plenty of wildflowers. There's also a spot where you can see the seals below shortly into the trail. Even though I didn't see any, the very end of the Chimney Rock Trail is supposedly a prime spot for whale watching.

 

4. Cypress Tree Tunnel

Cypress Tree Tunnel in Point Reyes California

The Cypress Tree Tunnel in Point Reyes National Seashore was planted in the 1930s.  Visiting the tree tunnel is easy, it's right off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and pretty impossible to miss. At the end of the tunnel is a historic radio station.  Make sure to take a moment to check out the views from both directions, facing the station and the road.

 

5. Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Another one of the best things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore is visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse.


The historic lighthouse was built in 1870 to warn mariners of treacherous ocean conditions.  It's one of the foggiest lighthouses in the country and a fantastic whale-watching spot in the fall and spring.


From the parking area, it’s a 0.5-mile walk on a paved road to reach the lighthouse. Along the way, you’ll pass several leaning cypress trees and a series of informational plaques that share the history of Point Reyes. During the hours of operation, you can walk down to the lighthouse. A big sign warns visitors to be prepared to walk the 313 steps back to the top.


Point Reyes Lighthouse

 

6. Sea Lion Overlook

Sea Lion Overlook in Point Reyes California

On the way to the Point Reys Lighthouse you can make a quick stop at this scenic cliffside overlook.  It's a great location for spotting sea lions, whales, and birds,  Don't forget to bring your binoculars!

 

7. South Beach Overlook

 South Beach Overlook in Point Reyes National Seashore

South Beach Overlook in Point Reyes offers gorgeous views of Point Reyes Beach, an 11-mile-long stretch of undeveloped beach nicknamed “The Great Beach”. The cliffside overlook is just a short walk from the lighthouse parking area.

 

8. Point Reyes Shipwreck

Point Reyes Shipwreck

Built in the 1940s, the S.S. Point Reyes, a.k.a. the Point Reyes Shipwreck, is actually located just outside of Point Reyes. It's right behind the Inverness Market, a small grocery store in Inverness, CA. In 2016 the already decaying insta-famous boat suffered even more damage after it was accidentally set on fire.

 

I hope you enjoyed my guide on the best things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore.


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