The pocket-sized community in Marin County became home twenty years ago. This town of deep-rooted cottages and newly modernized homes is tucked away nicely among the rolling hills. A variety of trees dot the neighborhood streets and as I look out my living room window, deer saunter by. This infers in me comfort, knowing nature and people can coexist in harmony.
Anywhere I go, whether it be to the local shopping center or to downtown for delicious dining, I am likely to run into a familiar face. But even in this cozy community, the streets can turn into a cluster of blinking lights. Regardless of its charm, this town succumbs to crowds and traffic jams.
When respite is needed, my husband and I take advantage of the beautiful outdoors in “our backyard.” This means a journey into West Marin – a favorite place on our map for day trips. In only a ten-minute drive west, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard takes us over White’s Hill where we exhale into relaxation. We pass what once was the shimmering emerald green lawn of San Geronimo Golf Club and cruise towards one of our favorite stops, the Lagunitas Deli, for a mouth-watering sandwich. This little market provides a few outdoor umbrellaed tables where patrons can sit, chat, and watch cars go by. Occasionally, we order our sandwiches to go, setting out for another favorite destination, Samuel P. Taylor Park.
After making a left turn into the park, we drive to the ranger station to check in, handing over a few bills for the day-use fee. Then we continue further into a magnificent redwood forest as though entering into a magical paradise. After parking the car, we unfold our legs and stretch, tipping our heads up to match the awe-inspiring Redwoods’ height. We stand in a world where breathing is easier. Our eyes search for a picnic table by the Papermill Creek so we can be soothed by the sound of gentle flowing water – perfect music for unwinding. After the last bite of our sandwiches, we stroll around hand in hand, delighting in the laughter of children playing and the mesquite aroma of the barbecues. The group picnic site evokes special memories as we approach: birthday celebrations and college graduations with barbecued meats, bean bag tossing, cake, and camaraderie.
But the deli and park aren’t exclusive to pulling us out of the stop and go traffic back in town. We detour off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard by turning right on a side street, driving at the posted fifteen-miles-per-hour speed limit through the blink-of-an-eye town of Nicasio. This town is where the Rancho Nicasio restaurant and concert venue resides. The “barbecues on the lawn” find their way onto our summer to-do list each year: great food, a margarita or two, the tree-lined scenery, and band of the day. But when the sun sets, the atmosphere takes on a new alchemy – enchanting strings of lights and stars in the night sky twinkle to create an unforgettable evening.
Passing Nicasio and nearing Bear Valley Visitor Center where we’ve hiked and picnicked, our eyes notice the cows grazing in the pastures. They often lift their heads to see who’s passing by. We arrive at the center and wander through, reading displays on all types of wildlife: deer, coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, gopher snakes, and great blue herons – education at our fingertips. I always manage to find something appealing in the gift shop: another t-shirt or bandanna to add to my collection, or one more book to keep others company in my bookcase, waiting to have their pages turned.
If we don’t plan to hike or picnic at the center, we head less than ten minutes away to the delightful town of Point Reyes Station. First stop, I spoil myself with a latte from Toby’s Coffee Bar. Toby’s is our favorite store in town. From chocolate, nuts, and jams, to shirts, jewelry, greeting cards, and books, this inviting store has everything! We mosey around, never walking out empty handed.
After finishing up at Toby’s with bags in hand, we enjoy one more spree and it’s for cheese! Stepping into Cowgirl Creamery, we hesitate, unsure of what delectable variety our palates crave: an Aged Sharp Cheddar or Gouda, a crumbly Goat cheese, or a Soft Brie or Camembert. When minds are made up, we add to the shuffling of bags with cheese in hand, and look for a table to savor it. If we didn’t lunch already, we may head to the Palace Market’s deli for a sandwich, saving the cheese for later. A bench suffices while we satisfy our hunger and watch regulars and visitors amble by. We then immerse ourselves into perusing each little shop with gusto. Point Reyes Station offers enjoyment for all. It’s a quaint town for a shopping expedition, to simply wander and window shop, or to satisfy appetites. It is the texture of Bay Area country living – a leisurely embrace of life.
Marin County brims with cozy and tranquil destinations where life is unhurried. These lovely locations offer reprieve from idling on crowded streets with frustrated drivers. We pause, crossing the threshold into a simpler time. Choosing whatever journey’s-end we prefer, Marin County is full of magic. We transport to where the air is refreshing, birds delightfully sing, trees welcome our company, and since the pace is easy-going, we actually have time to “smell the roses.”
This was written pre-Covid, but I’m optimistic that we’ll have the chance to repeat this adventure when life enters into a another new normal – one without masks and social distancing, when hugs and handshakes are welcomed, and smiles are seen again.
I hope you enjoyed! Lauren 💗
Photo credit: Google images for Samuel P Taylor picnic ground
& Pt. Reyes. All other photos are mine.