Point Reyes Lighthouse: Comfort in the Big Outdoors

The lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore is one of our favorite day trip destinations in the Bay Area. In terms of access, one of its nicest aspects is its flexibility and open-endedness. From the parking lot to the viewing platform above the lighthouse itself, the entire experience is physically accessible to a very wide range of ages and abilities. It’s one of the best physical, psychological, and spiritual getaways around, just two hours north of San Francisco.

Even if you don’t get any farther than this bench a few yards from the parking lot, you’ll still have beautiful visit to a stunning location. (Be sure to bring warm, windproof clothes.)

The easy quarter mile road from the parking lot to the visitor center is closed to most vehicles. It’s an inviting path, with something lovely to see around every bend.

Even the signs – which are informative and well-designed, in an eighties sort of way – have gorgeous views.

The visitor center is just a small, folksy hut that hasn’t been improved or changed in at least 25 years – which I think is to its advantage. Nothing high-tech or intrusive, just functional and informative displays and very patient and knowledgeable personnel behind the desk.

If you can handle the long walk down to the lighthouse proper (and back up again), by all means do it. We have spent some of the most tranquil hours of our lives down there, sitting out in the sun, fog, wind, mist, and rain – sometimes all in the same visit – searching the ocean for migrating grey whales or just gazing out at the ocean, the birds, the occasional sea lion, enveloped by the sound of the sea and the moan of the fog horn. It’s comfort of a very deep kind.

If you are unable to go down the stairs, or not inclined, you can hang around on the upper viewing platform and have much the same experience, without the foghorn and with longer views. In all the years we’ve been going to Point Reyes, it has never been less than spectacularly beautiful and deeply refreshing to the mind and spirit, no matter what the season or the weather.

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