Plan a trip to Sonoma wine country

Savor Tomales Bay

Just north of San Francisco, take in the beauty of the coast and sample succulent oysters, cheese, and more

Inverness Ridge
Photo: Thomas J. Story

We've been hiking for hours along the Inverness Ridge Trail, above the shining blue ribbon of Tomales Bay, and we're ravenous. Maybe it's all the gazing at the water that leads my boyfriend, Peter, and me to look at each other and mouth the same word: "oysters."

Twenty minutes later, we're sitting at a picnic table at Hog Island Oyster Co., shucking and slurping cold, firm, plump Pacifics harvested a few hundred feet away.

You can find good local food in any number of beautiful places, but in Tomales Bay, on California's North Coast, there's a special kind of seamlessness between the act of eating and just being in nature. The loveliness of this landscape, which flanks the Point Reyes National Seashore, is in fact shaped largely by food and the raising of it.

The grassy hills on the bay's eastern shore ― as tawny and shiny now, in late summer, as a Siamese cat's fur ― are pastures for dairy cows and beef cattle. Fruit and vegetable farmers cultivate this land too, and grapevines stipple the hills with bright patches of green. In the bay, halibut, sturgeon, perch, and herring thrive in water shared by the thousands of oysters growing there, busily filtering plankton. The briny sweetness you taste in the water when you swim in the bay is in the oysters too.

We're here to savor all this local bounty as well as the golden beauty of September on the coast. And we're here to check out Nick's Cove & Cottages, the 1930s fish house and cabins on stilts over the water that have just been reinvented and reopened by legendary San Francisco restaurateur and designer Pat Kuleto. We'll eat, we'll sleep, and we'll revel in good food and fall beauty.



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