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Apr 14, 2009 07:22 PM

Where to picnic around Point Reyes?

Hog Island Oyster Farm's picnic tables are booked solid all weekends in April, but I think one can still buy oysters to go (unshucked). Where can we go around Marshall to eat our oysters and drink our wine? We are also thinking of stopping by Cowgirl Creamery to buy more food. Any picnic areas around there? We're not planning on cooking anything, so we don't need a grill.

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  1. did that on the beach once (I don't recommend handling a shucking knife if there are hangovers in the group - bring along some flat head screwdrivers instead)

    relatively short drive over to the Point proper (I think it was Drake's Bay) bring water and wetnaps (blowing sand somedays)

    how much do they charge for a bucket these days?

    3 Replies
    1. re: hill food

      I think most oysters at Hog Island go for $16 per dozen. I trust these will be more substantial than the miniscule ones we had at the Ferry Plaza Happy Hour for $1 apiece.

      1. re: pilinut

        golly, on the East Coast now and I can find unshucked for $6 a dozen - as good? well that's a different question.

        Bernal is right, it was a crunchy time. but hey when one is 25 and stupid...

      2. re: hill food

        i'd be pretty wary of heading to the Pt Reyes beaches unless it is a really calm day. And it can seem calm enough on the other side of the Inverness ridge as your driving there and be totally blustery on the Pacific side. Nothing like wind driven sand on the half shell....

        There is s totally sheltered, flat beach with picnic tables near Inverness in Tomales Bay SP. Head out to Pt Reyes after lunch, by all means. But avoid picnics on the windy beaches. They also have picnic tables at a beach on the east side of the bay that looks a little more off the road and closer to Hog Island. Sounds nice.

        Nothing at all wrong with taking your picnic into the redwoods. Samuel Taylor SP has some nice picnic tables in a cool grove on the river. The park brochure is here;

        The Pt Reyes visitor center is another option. They have a lot of picnic tables, but they do fill up. Depending on the day, all these picnic tables may be hard to get.

        And if you want to make it into a Sonoma road trip, there are other parks and picnic areas inland. Lots of options.

      3. There are picnic tables in front of Toby's Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station. Also, there is a grassy area next to Cow Girl where I've seen people picnic. You might want to take a peek at the little city park right behind Toby's (across the street). I think you could picnic there too, but I'm not 100% sure, might be more of a playground.

        You could also drive up the road to Pierce Point.

        1. Dillon Beach, reached via Dillon Beach Road from the very small town of Tomales (good bakery and also a cafe there), is a private beach with a row of sand dunes behind the beach. When the beach itself is too cold and/or windy (often), you just go back behind the row of dunes and it's sheltered. No tables there so take a large groundcloth. I was taken there a long time ago and unless you've been there you'd never know it was possible to be comfortable on a typical Northern California beach day. I'd call to make sure it's still the same way these days.

          1. Thank you for the useful info, BernalKC, Mick Ruthven, and Shane Greenwood. I've checked out your links and suggestions, and am more comfortable with the possibilities now. I.e., there will be someplace nice and not too far away to take our picnic.

            However, I have yet to get ANY response to my phone calls and e-mail re reserving a table (or even to reserving oysters, which they recommend for purchases of over 100 oysters). So I'm looking at Tomales Bay Oyster Co., and Drakes Bay Family Farm. Has anyone tried the oysters at either of these places?

            2 Replies
            1. re: pilinut

              I have had the Tomales Bay Oyster Co and thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact, I coudn't really say there is that big a difference between the two, although I didn't try them side by side.

              1. re: pilinut

                Here's an old thread comparing Hog Island, Tomales Bay, and Drake's Bay.


                We did compare Tomales Bay and Hog Island oysters side by side and found them pretty much equal in taste. The Hog Islands were prettier (no barnacles), if that makes a difference to you. Tomales Bay oysters were a buck or two cheaper per dozen compared to Hog Islands of the same size.

              2. The Bear Valley visitor center, just a couple of miles out from Pt Reyes Station, has a
                bunch of picnic tables, nice lawn and trees, and is pleasantly away from the gales of
                the seashore. And has people there who can set you on your way someplace better if
                it's not what you're looking for.


                Tomales Bay Oyster Co is generally where I get mine because it's a few miles closer
                than Hog Island and a lot closer than Drakes Bay/Johnsons. The picnicking facilities
                there are free but extremely limited. Oysters are as good as anywhere.

                Remember to bring everything you'll need. Cooler, ice, drinks, sauces, shucking knife,
                hand protection, first aid kit.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                  Ice. . . Why do I always forget the ice? Pity I can't pack it now, while I remember.

                  I have already packed the oyster knives, wineglasses, and a hat. Good idea about the First Aid Kit! Thanks you!

                  1. re: pilinut

                    Don't panic if you forget the ice. I'm pretty sure both places sell it at a slightly inflated price that's worth it if you would have to make an extra stop on the way just to buy some. Good that you said "oyster knives" (plural). You didn't say how many will be in your party or how many might be available for shucking, but you don't want to be the one who spends the day shucking while everyone else eats.

                    1. re: pilinut

                      You can buy ice, and pretty much anything else you need for a picnic, in Point Reyes Station. There is a full grocery store a block from Toby's Feed Barn.

                      1. re: pilinut

                        You might also want to pack some towels to hold your oysters while you open them and/or some gloves. Also a large jug of water to clean your hands and rinse off your knives once you're done eating.