Bountiful Tomales Bay

North of San Francisco, the coastline is pristine and the oysters are fresh

Manka's sign

  • Tomales Bay Manka's sign

WHAT TO DO

Cowgirl Creamery 

Through the window near the main entrance of Tomales Bay Foods, observe award-winning cheeses being made. Or sign up for the demonstration and tasting ($3; 11:30 a.m. Fri). You can buy the cheese, as well other good local and international cheeses, at the creamery's sales counter. INFO: Closed Mon-Tue; in Tomales Bay Foods, 80 Fourth St., Point Reyes Station; 415/663-9335.

Farm and ranch tours Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) leads tours to local food producers. INFO: Apr-Oct; $10-$25, reservations required; 415/663-1158.

Heart's Desire Beach A good picnic spot in Tomales Bay State Park. INFO: $6 per vehicle; off Pierce Point Rd., 4 miles north of Inverness; 415/669-1140.

Horseback riding Point Reyes Arabian Adventures owner Susan Rowsell will trailer your steed (she'll provide one) to any spot around the bay you choose for a guided ride. Horses are extremely well trained and peppy, not your usual trail nags. INFO: From $35 per hour, reservations required; on State 1 in Point Reyes Station; 707/477-7181.

Kayaking The veteran guides at Point Reyes Outdoors point out the bay's natural marvels while you paddle, and they'll help you improve your stroke too. INFO: From $75 half-day, reservations required; on State 1 in Point Reyes Station; 415/663-8192.

Marin Sun Farms The clean, handsome butcher shop sells the farm's own grass-fed beef, lamb, and chickens, plus free-range eggs with deep-golden yolks. INFO: 10905 State 1; 415/663-8997.

Point Reyes Vineyards The converted former dairy has Marin County's first vineyard tasting room since Prohibition. Winemaker Steve Doughty produces sparkling wine and bright, cherrylike Pinot Noir. He makes fine Zinfandel and Cabernet, too, from grapes grown farther inland. There's also a three-room B&B here (scheduled to reopen in November 2007). INFO: Open Fri-Mon; $3 tasting fee; 12700 State 1, Point Reyes Station; 415/663-1011.

Straus Family Creamery Visit the West's first organic dairy ― known for its rich, delicious cream-top milk in glass bottles ― to see the milking of the cows and make your own butter. Straus satisfies most of its energy needs by using a methane digester, which converts cow manure to electricity, enabling owner Albert Straus to drive an electric Toyota RAV4 fueled purely by cow power. INFO: The only way to visit is by joining an organized tour with Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT; see " What to Do: Farm and Ranch Tours")

Vladimir's Czech Restaurant & Bar Seemingly every part of owner Vladimir Nevl's long and storied life has ended up on the walls of his restaurant, from his boyhood in Moravia to his escape (on skis) from the 1948 Communist coup in the former Czechoslovakia to his life as an equestrian. Unfortunately, the hours are erratic and the food is unreliable, but it's a great place to stop for a beer and a chat with Mr. Nevl. INFO: $$$; closed Mon; 12785 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness; 415/669-1021.

Next: where to eat 

 

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