Hometown Edition: A Day in the North Bay

In this post, I bring you north across the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) for some incredible views, delicious cheeses and an overall shucking good time.

Recently, two of my best friends from college came to visit my hometown, San Francisco. It was the perfect opportunity to play tour guide and show them what the Bay Area has to offer.

Whenever I have visitors, I love to spend a day outside of the city. While the other half of TBP is traveling Europe (Yes, I'm so jealous. Have you seen Morgan's Scotland pictures!?!), I feel lucky to live in a place where a quick drive takes me to so many amazing destinations - Tahoe, Santa Cruz, Napa, Point Reyes Seashore...and the list goes on.

Today, I take you up Highway 1 to Tomales Bay, with a few of my favorite stops on the way. I hope this post helps you plan your own successful day trip outside of San Francisco.

If you have feedback or tips of your own, please share in the comments section.  

xx A

 GGB is ready for her close up.

GGB is ready for her close up.

  @maxtheterrier  and I at Vista Point.

@maxtheterrier and I at Vista Point.

 San Francisco skyline views from Marin Headlands. See our  TBP insider tips  for how to get this view!

San Francisco skyline views from Marin Headlands. See our TBP insider tips for how to get this view!

Itinerary

+ A quick stop at The Mill for coffee and toast will get your morning started off right

The Mill is a collaboration between Four Barrel Coffee (my #1 in SF) and Josey Baker Bread. I recommend an almond milk cappuccino and the mountain rye & cream cheese toast.

+ Drive across the GGB

I love the drive across the bridge, especially when it's foggy out. With the bay views and Alcatraz to your right, make sure to keep your eyes on the road!

+ Stop at Vista Point for views

The first exit off the bridge takes you to Vista Point. Pull over for sweeping views of the Bridge, Alcatraz and the gorgeous SF skyline.

 

 

+ Muir Woods

If you're in Northern California, don't miss the redwood trees. Redwoods can live for thousands of years and make up the tallest and largest trees in the world! 

 

+ Drive Highway 1

California's Highway 1 is known as one of the world's most scenic drives. This particular route is part of the Pacific Coastal Highway (PCH). From San Francisco to our final destination, this winding road takes you through Stinson beach and up the coast to Point Reyes National Seashore.
 I think of Highway 1 as a rollercoaster drive, but my visitors felt a bit car sick... 

I think of Highway 1 as a rollercoaster drive, but my visitors felt a bit car sick... 

 Luckily, there are some gorgeous places to pull over along the way. 

Luckily, there are some gorgeous places to pull over along the way. 

 

+ Grab picnic supplies at Point Reyes Station

A North Bay day trip isn't complete without a stop at Cowgirl Creamery to pick up delicious cheeses, crackers, salami and even a tiny bottle of rosé to bring to Hog Island. Don't forget to ask the cheesemongers for a few samples. I recommend the Mt Tam Triple cream. 
 North Bay is a great place to escape  @karlthefog .

North Bay is a great place to escape @karlthefog.

 A cheesemaker in action at Cowgirl Creamery. Mt Tam triple cream, please!

A cheesemaker in action at Cowgirl Creamery. Mt Tam triple cream, please!

+ Learn to shuck oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co.

Hog Island Oyster Co. is situated right on Tomales Bay with some gorgeous views and lovely wooden picnic tables where you can post up and shuck fresh oysters. If you go on a Tuesday or Thursday, you can shuck without a reservation. Otherwise, don't forget to call ahead!
 Tomales Bay views from Hog Island.

Tomales Bay views from Hog Island.

 The freshest oysters + lemon and hot sauce.

The freshest oysters + lemon and hot sauce.

+ Head back to the city in time for dinner

If you have time to stay overnight, I recommend this magical treehouse in Petaluma. Otherwise, it's time to head back over the bridge.

TBP Insider Tips

>I don't have a car in San Francisco, so I use Getaround whenever I take a day trip outside the city. I call it the Airbnb for cars and it's super easy to use.

>To get to Marin Headlands, take the Sausalito/Alexander Avenue exit after crossing the bridge and turn left under the freeway. Take a right on Conzelman Road until you reach a small parking lot on the left. From there, you can walk up the headlands towards the GGB and get the view in the picture above.

>Always check the website to confirm the availability to shuck at Hog Island. There are two sections there: the picnic area with grills, and the "Boat Oyster Bar" with picnic tables sans grill. On Tuesday and Thursday, you can shuck your own oysters without a reservation at the picnic tables w/o grills. Any other day, you need a picnic reservation w/ a grill to shuck. If you end up making a reservation for the Boat Oyster Bar, don't fret, just order the BBQ Grilled Oysters and learn to shuck next time.

>Driving Highway 1 really is a rollercoaster ride, so here are some tips I use to avoid car sickness. 

  1. If you're not driving, call shotgun!
  2. Keep the window down. I like to stick my hand out the window and channel Michelle Branch
  3. Remember how your parents told you not to read in the car? Well, looking at your phone counts too. I always feel nauseous after insta-ing on a long car ride. 
  4. Take a break if you need to. There are so many beautiful places to pull over on this ride. Get some fresh air and stretch your legs.

> I've taught a bunch of friends how to shuck oysters and the most important thing is to be patient. Here are some tips if it's your first time shucking. 

  1. Always wear a glove on the hand holding the oyster. Safety first, friends!
  2. Line the shucking tool at the hinge of the two shells and slowly, but with some strength, wiggle the tool into the hinge.
  3. Once your tool slides between the shells, twist (don't pry) until the shells separate. 
  4. After that, you can pry the oyster to remove the top shell. I always use the tool to separate the oyster from the shell so it slides right off when you're ready to eat it.
  5. Add lemon, hot sauce, etc and you're done!

Special thanks to Carly Gazze for her photo contributions.