Point Reyes National Seashore is 35 miles north of San Francisco via State 1. Get maps and weather info at Bear Valley Visitor Center (9-5 Mon-Fri, 8-5 Sat-Sun and holidays). The Lighthouse Visitor Center (10-4:30 Thu-Mon) has exhibits on local wildlife; stairs lead down to the lighthouse. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/pore or call 415/464-5100.
The nonprofit group Point Reyes Field Seminars offers about a dozen photography workshops annually (from $89; www.ptreyes.org or 415/663-1200), led by Sean Arbabi (Sep 10 and Nov 19) as well as Ernest Braun, Brenda Tharp, and others.
Weather and light. If you're trying to capture good images―or just enjoy a hike or picnic―vacillating weather can be your biggest challenge. Check conditions at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Morning often brings high clouds or fog to the east side of the park, so spots like Bear Valley offer favorable light then. By late afternoon, light is warmer and more favorable on the beaches and other generally west-facing features.
Spotting wildlife. Look for seals and sea lions hauled out near the lighthouse and shorebirds on Limantour Beach. The area near the Bear Valley Visitor Center is home to acorn woodpeckers, deer, and a herd of Morgan horses. Tomales Point is the best place to find elk.
Where to eat
The Olema Inn & Restaurant. The vibe is comfortingly West Marin, but the menu is very downtown (organic small plates, Niman Ranch meats). $$$; lunch Sat-Sun, dinner daily except Tue. 10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Olema; www.theolemainn.com or 415/663-9559.
Tomales Bay Foods. What used to be a hay barn now houses a mecca for foodies, with a deli, a produce stand, and Cowgirl Creamery cheeses. 10-6 Wed-Sun. 80 Fourth St., Point Reyes Station; 415/663-9335.
Where to stay
For a complete list, contact the Point Reyes Lodging Association ( www.ptreyes.com or 800/539-1872).
The Blackthorne Inn. On a hillside perch, the rambling wooden inn is like sleeping in the treetops. 5 rooms from $245. 266 Vallejo Ave., Inverness Park; www.blackthorneinn.com or 415/663-8621.
Point Reyes Seashore Lodge. With a breakfast room filled with great photography of Point Reyes, the inn helps you start the day inspired to take great pictures. 22 rooms and 2 cottages from $135. 10021 State 1, Olema; www.pointreyesseashore.com or 415/663-9000.