My wife and I wanted to get away. We just didn’t want to go very far.
So we headed to the coast for a weekend that included an otherworldly hike at Point Reyes National Seashore, a sublime dinner and overnight at Nick’s Cove in Marshall, and a stroll along the windswept Kortum Trail just north of Bodega Bay.
We often visit the coast for hikes or beach days, but staying overnight makes the trip far richer, a 28-hour getaway that left us feeling refreshed and exhilarated, ready for the week ahead.
Our jaunt started with a 45-minute drive from Petaluma to a trailhead just below the Point Reyes Hostel (it’s easy to park there). The 5-mile loop starts on the Laguna Trail toward Coast Camp.
Forested areas filled with birdsong give way to expansive valleys where (in March) a rainbow of wildflowers carpeted the hills. The terrain is relatively gentle though a few hills will give your legs a workout.
Just below Coast Camp is a somewhat steep trail down to the beach, but it’s well worth the descent. We brought turkey and bacon sandwiches from Ray’s Deli in Petaluma and picnicked on the sand as envious seagulls silently implored us to share.
The sounds of the crashing waves soothed our souls; the brisk wind carried the salty scent of the sea. We walked the tide line then dozed on our blanket.
The Coast Trail parallels the beach for about a mile, some of the most gorgeous hiking in California, and if you walk during the late afternoon you can watch the sun slide toward the horizon, casting ever-longer shadows.
The trail then cuts inland to return to the hostel, which is where we might have stayed a decade or two ago. But since we only had one night, I wanted to live it up.
We pulled into Nick’s Cove just before sunset and got the keys to our bungalow, so close to Tomales that we almost felt like we were floating.
Music drifted toward us from a shack at the end of Nick’s pier. The next day we identified the source — an old piano. The shack is open to hotel guests and is a perfect place to enjoy a cocktail at sunset.
Our home for the night was named Bandit’s Bungalow for a Hollywood bank heist movie shot at Nick’s Cove.
We raided the honor bar and popped a split of sparkling wine. From the deck, we took in the impressionistic views of Point Reyes and Tomales Bay.
As we unpacked, someone knocked on our door. I opened it to find a shimmering plate of a half dozen barbecued oysters embedded in rock salt, a welcome taste of Marshall delivered to all guests. They were plump and flavorful, the ideal complement to the half bottle of Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs.
Our bungalow was so cozy it was hard to leave, but we had never dined at Nick’s Cove and were eager to see if chef Austin Perkins, a Petaluman, would live up to the glowing reviews.
The restaurant has a nautical feel, with thick ropes encircling the base of the mahogany bar and wooden beams overhead.
There’s a chef’s tasting menu, but we opted to dine a la carte. The salad was so fresh I asked the server where they sourced their greens. Just up the hill in the “croft,” she said, which is what Nick’s Cove calls its on-property garden.
If you go: Nick’s Cove restaurant and oyster bar is open for brunch, lunch, cocktails and dinner, and has cabins on Tomales Bay.
23240 Highway 1, Marshall, (415) 663-1033, nickscove.com.