Marshall, California

Oysters are perhaps now the most visible “crop” in Marshall, where about half the state’s shellfish growers lease acreage on the floor of Tomales Bay. Clams and oysters are available roadside from the companies themselves, or barbecued at most of the area’s restaurants.

Marin’s dairy industry began here. Brothers Hugh, James, Samuel, Alexander, and David Marshall showed up from the East with cattle in the mid-1850s but folklore has it that Clara Steele and a Miwok Indian got the local industry started in 1852, when they milked a wild cow.

Marshall is still home to a couple of dairies – one of them organic- although these days the hillsides are mostly just used for grazing.

Hikers can enjoy Millerton Point, which is about four miles north of Point Reyes Station and part of Tomales Bay State Park. The walk out to the end along Alan Sieroty Beach isn’t long, but the point extends far enough across Tomales Bay so as you can almost yell back and forth with people in downtown Inverness. Atop a pole not far from the parking is an osprey nest.

Further north is state-owned Marconi Conference Center, sort of junior version of Asilomar in Pacific Grove that features a gorgeous (though empty) Mediterranean-style hotel. Guglielmo Marconi, the father of wireless radio, built the first trans-Pacific receiving station here in 1913; the 28-room hotel was meant to house workers. RCA took over the site in 1920, followed decades later by the cultish drug-and-alcohol rehab group Synanon, which thrived there in 1970s before turning violent and collapsing.

Just north of Marconi uphill of the highway, stands a small Miwok cemetery, the spare white crosses sometimes draped in flowers.

Marshall has a boat launch, at county owned Miller Park about three miles north of “downtown.” North past that is a string of dilapidated waterfront cabins, formerly a Bohemian establishment known as Jensen’s Oyster Co. but now a ghost village owned by the National Park Service. Nearby is the marshy delta of Walker Creek, which at sunset looks webbed with quicksilver. The birds posing like alabaster bottles are egrets.

"The national seashore begins 25 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, and it must drive developers crazy to see it just lying there, virtually empty. Its natural state is a tribute to former President John F. Kennedy, who declared that the peninsula should be saved as a national treasure. He set aside nearly 80,000 acres for public use. The largest town at the edge of the park, Point Reyes Station, consists of a couple of dozen buildings that line both sides of Route 1."

- Washington Post

"Take the roads less traveled on this coastal road trip. From San Francisco, head north to discover secret wine country, driftwood strewn beaches and romantic coastal hamlets like Mendocino. Escape to cosy B&Bs and exclusive inns, paddle along a secret river, watch the horizon for spouting whales and watch the fog roll in at sunset."

- Visit California

"Making the world your oyster in Marshall (
West Marin's coastal landscape, dominated by grazing land, dairy farms and the vast Point Reyes National Seashore, is the antithesis of the county's affluent inland cities. Marshall, at the north end of Tomales Bay, is where Marin's dairy industry started. Today, though, its fortunes rest with mollusks – about half the state's shellfish producers grow oysters, clams and mussels on the bay floor here. Buy them along the road to take home or rent a picnic spot to shuck and grill them yourself (shucking lessons available on request). Or splurge on a night or two in one of the impeccable stilted cottages over the bay water at Nick's Cove, which includes oysters upon arrival and has an oyster bar in the restaurant."

- SF Chronicle

" Stinson Beach, California - As with most West Coast shores, the hunting on Stinson Beach doesn't compare with that along the Gulf. Still, this beach just north of San Francisco does supply limpet shells and sand dollars―plus lots of surfers, a couple of nice seafood restaurants nearby, rugged natural beauty, and endearing small-town quirkiness."

- Coastal Living

From Travel & Leisure Magazine

Sun worshippers ready to escape San Francisco’s foggy wrath tend to fall back on familiar options, like the lovable but insanely crowded Stinson Beach to the north, or Santa Cruz’s classic boardwalk to the south. This Memorial Day, veer ever-so-slightly from the beaten track for these alluring, under-the-radar beach town alternatives:


Just 10 miles up the coast from its touristy neighbor Point Reyes Station, Marshall lures locals for its water-to-table fare and panoramic views of Tomales Bay. Watch fisherman haul in buckets of fresh shellfish from your perch on the sprawling deck at Nick’s Cove restaurant, or buy a sack of buttery-briny kumamoto oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. and shuck them yourself at their bayside BYOP (Bring Your Own Picnic) tables.


Notoriously reclusive residents and unmarked roads deter the masses from Bolinas, leaving its enchanting beach and meandering coastal trails pleasantly void of Memorial Day crowds. Two Mile Surf Shop provides surfboard rentals for cruising the beach break, or trek one of Northern California’s most photogenic coastal hikes by following the Palomarin Trailhead at the end of Mesa Road to the remote and swimmable Bass Lake.