Cheese Tourism: Point Reyes, California
There’s so much to do in and around San Francisco, it’s easy to overlook the importance of the dairy industry. Just north of the city is an area that produces more than its share of excellent cheese. Much of it is sold in San Francisco farmers’ markets and specialty stores, but why not make a pilgrimage to the area where it's made? You’ll see interesting dairies, beautiful seashore and more in Point Reyes.
What to do
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese offers a range of classes, events and tours that change with the season. Check out upcoming offerings on their website - and please note that these sell out early. Otherwise, you may call ahead to book a tour. They make a variety of cheeses but are best known for the creamy and bold Original Blue, the first cheese they produced (pictured above).
While Nicasio Cheese doesn’t offer tours, visit their creamery to catch a glimpse of their production room and to sample their multiple award-winning varieties. Foggy Morning, the fromage-blanc style cheese pictured below, is a four-time national award winner – don’t miss it!
Cowgirl Creamery is best known for Mt. Tam, a lovely aged triple cream. The creamery offers tours and tastings on Thursdays and Fridays, in small groups for a more personalized experience. Make your booking at least two or three weeks in advance. If you don’t want an in-depth experience, set aside some time to visit the original creamery and cheese shop at Tomales Bay Foods. Pick up a picnic lunch (featuring the best of local and international cheese) and enjoy it outside.
While you're in the area, take some time to hike along the lovely Point Reyes National Seashore. And on your way back to San Francisco, stop in Muir Woods, for a glimpse of the majestic redwoods.
San Francisco is rich with activities. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, go for a ride on a cable car, see the amazing exhibits at the California Academy of Sciences, and pay a visit to Alcatraz. No matter how much time you spend there, you’ll wish you had more.
How to get there
Air Canada and WestJet both offer a selection of flights to San Francisco from departure points across Canada.
Where to stay
If you choose to stay overnight in the area, do so at the Osprey Peak B&B (pictured above). This Japanese-style farmhouse is set in the woods, for a perfectly tranquil retreat. The owners provide copies of the California cheese trail map to help you find your way around. (Thanks to Osprey Peak for the beautiful photo of Point Reyes headlands, used at the top of this post.)
Alternatively, consider staying in San Francisco and making a day trip to Point Reyes. The lovely Union Street Inn is located in a residential area, and is surrounded by dozens of shops and restaurants. It’s directly on a bus line that takes you anywhere you need to travel around the city. Rooms are comfortable and beautifully decorated, and breakfasts are the best in the city. (See room photo below.) The drive to Point Reyes can be done in just over an hour, unless you're taking the much longer scenic route - in which case, an overnight stay is recommended.
Beth Pollock is a freelance writer and editor, who particularly enjoys writing about her twin passions of food and travel. She works as writer and content provider for Restaurants Canada, and has written articles for MENU magazine and several travel industry websites. She is also the author of three books for children.
She still remembers the Eggs Benedict she was served at the Union Street Inn, and wonders if she might fly across the continent simply to have another one of their breakfasts. (Expensive, but tasty.)
Interested in reading more of what Beth has written? Check out her blog, Of Muses and Meringues.
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- Tags: California B&B, California Cheese Trail, California Cheese Trail map, Cheese tourism, Cowgirl Creamery, Foggy Morning cheese, Mt. Tam, Nicasio Cheese, Original Blue cheese, Osprey Peak B&B, Point Reyes, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, Point Reyes tourism, San Francisco day trip, Union Street Inn