All posts by Marin Coast Guide

Bolinas and Dogtown

 

BOLINAS

 

Seaside Bolinas is the oldest town in Coastal Marin. It is famously an eccentric and tolerant town with a community that includes descendants of early Bolinas families, artists and writers, biologists, high tech innovators, social and environmental activists, renowned organic food producers and more.

The turn-off to Bolinas from Highway One is at the head of the Bolinas Lagoon, keeping the lagoon on your left. Parking in town is problematic and the dead end main street makes turning around difficult. Alternatively arriving by the West Marin Stage public transportation can free you and townspeople from parking frustration. Or add to your adventure by turning right on Mesa Road, parking in the roomy gravel lot by the fire station, then stroll across the road to a pleasant downhill path through a eucalyptus grove. The town is dog friendly but please bring only well-socialized dogs to Bolinas. No camping or fires are allowed on the beach. Residents ask visitors to be thoughtful and respect their community, beaches and environment.

The town’s history stretches back to Native Americans followed by Spanish Californios, both settled on the sunny flatland by today’s schoolhouse. The Gold Rush brought logging, ranching and an economy dependent on maritime transportation until the 1930s. From 1914-1990s Marconi / RCA made global communication history here. Besides a literary Renaissance, the 1970s were pivotal for community commitment to preserve small town Bolinas and its wildlife-rich environment. Most of downtown was built between 1850 and 1920. The Schooner Saloon (Smiley’s) dates back to the early days of logging, and Bolinas Market has changed little since reopening after the 1906 earthquake. Next to the historic blacksmith shop/garage is Bo-Gas, one of only two gas stations in Coastal Marin. It is open 24/7 by credit card and sales contribute to Bolinas Land Trust, a non-profit providing affordable housing. Public restrooms are located in the downtown park and another by the tennis court.

In addition to savoring nature, hiking or the small beach, Bolinas offers an honor-system bookstore and farm stand, a hardware store with unusual gifts, second-hand stores, world-source gifts, a library, a few B&Bs and a few motel rooms 
at the saloon. For eating, emphasis here is on delicious locally harvested food. There are sandwiches at natural foods Bolinas People’s Store and Bolinas Market, sit down at Coast Café, and interesting new food venues are opening. Don’t miss the wildlife artist’s gallery, changing shows at the rentable Bolinas Gallery and the outstanding Bolinas Museum of fine art and local history.

The community center has a
 busy schedule of classes and events, Commonweal’s New School offers stimulating public talks and the Maritime Radio Historical Society offers RCA radio station tours by appointment. There are surfboard rentals, surfing lessons and supplies. In the historic barn, next to Bolinas Museum, The Surf Shop sells comfortable clothes now, but the owner, Buzz, was the founder of the very first surf shop (including building surfboards) between the Golden Gate Bridge and Canada.

There is no highway sign and the town has a reputation for discouraging visitors, but if you find your way here, you will find the community is friendly, interesting and full of independent-minded creative people.

Courtesy of Elia Haworth, Curator of Coastal Marin Art & History, Bolinas Museum

 

Dogtown – the first Bolinas

Just north of the Bolinas turn off is the little settlement of Dogtown. This was the original Bolinas and entry to Rancho Las Baulines (established about 1834) whose boundaries defined the township until 1916. The lagoon side town’s location today was just called “The Point”, the place where schooners were loaded with lumber, dairy, farm products and people to transport to San Francisco.

The Gold Rush brought thousands
of immigrants into the tiny San Francisco and created an insatiable need for lumber to build a city. In 1850 hundreds
of men descended on Rancho Baulines to fell the primeval redwood forests and turn the ancient oaks and pines into firewood. Sawmills were built and the rowdy community of Baulines sprang up. Yankees simplified the spelling to Bolinas. In 1865, newspaper editor Ai Barney visited Bolinas and described it as “quite a settlement, and is known under the cogomen of “Dogtown”– being so called, we presume, from the immense number of canines which infest the place”. Dogs were for hunting bear and deer. He described it’s wagon-its businesses and five or six houses. A few of those buildings remain today including the first Bolinas schoolhouse. Three copper mines opened nearby and Bolinas was briefly renamed Copper Town, but mining failed. Eventually busy commerce at The Point drew the township of Bolinas.

The name Dogtown-Bolinas stuck for the settlement, much to the frustration of resident men who believed the name Dogtown hindered attracting marriageable women. On December 31, 1868, a town meeting was held, “to deliberate on the expediency of the proposition to make sausage of all the dogs and chose a more virtuous, modest and sweet-scented word of a warbling sound as a name more suitable for our thrifty town of decent inhabitants.” Dogtown-Bolinas became “Woodville.”

Woodville faded into a neighborhood of fewer residents and locals continued to call it Dogtown for over 100 years. Finally a local resident petitioned the Board of Supervisors of Marin County to restore the name. By unanimous resolution in April, 1976–it officially became Dogtown.

Courtesy of the Bolinas Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOLINAS

 

Seaside Bolinas is the oldest town in Coastal Marin. It is famously an eccentric and tolerant town with a community that includes descendants of early Bolinas families, artists and writers, biologists, high tech innovators, social and environmental activists, renowned organic food producers and more.

The turn-off to Bolinas from Highway One is at the head of the Bolinas Lagoon, keeping the lagoon on your left. Parking in town is problematic and the dead end main street makes turning around difficult. Alternatively arriving by the West Marin Stage public transportation can free you and townspeople from parking frustration. Or add to your adventure by turning right on Mesa Road, parking in the roomy gravel lot by the fire station, then stroll across the road to a pleasant downhill path through a eucalyptus grove. The town is dog friendly but please bring only well-socialized dogs to Bolinas. No camping or fires are allowed on the beach. Residents ask visitors to be thoughtful and respect their community, beaches and environment.

The town’s history stretches back to Native Americans followed by Spanish Californios, both settled on the sunny flatland by today’s schoolhouse. The Gold Rush brought logging, ranching and an economy dependent on maritime transportation until the 1930s. From 1914-1990s Marconi / RCA made global communication history here. Besides a literary Renaissance, the 1970s were pivotal for community commitment to preserve small town Bolinas and its wildlife-rich environment. Most of downtown was built between 1850 and 1920. The Schooner Saloon (Smiley’s) dates back to the early days of logging, and Bolinas Market has changed little since reopening after the 1906 earthquake. Next to the historic blacksmith shop/garage is Bo-Gas, one of only two gas stations in Coastal Marin. It is open 24/7 by credit card and sales contribute to Bolinas Land Trust, a non-profit providing affordable housing. Public restrooms are located in the downtown park and another by the tennis court.

In addition to savoring nature, hiking or the small beach, Bolinas offers an honor-system bookstore and farm stand, a hardware store with unusual gifts, second-hand stores, world-source gifts, a library, a few B&Bs and a few motel rooms 
at the saloon. For eating, emphasis here is on delicious locally harvested food. There are sandwiches at natural foods Bolinas People’s Store and Bolinas Market, sit down at Coast Café, and interesting new food venues are opening. Don’t miss the wildlife artist’s gallery, changing shows at the rentable Bolinas Gallery and the outstanding Bolinas Museum of fine art and local history.

The community center has a
 busy schedule of classes and events, Commonweal’s New School offers stimulating public talks and the Maritime Radio Historical Society offers RCA radio station tours by appointment. There are surfboard rentals, surfing lessons and supplies. In the historic barn, next to Bolinas Museum, The Surf Shop sells comfortable clothes now, but the owner, Buzz, was the founder of the very first surf shop (including building surfboards) between the Golden Gate Bridge and Canada.

There is no highway sign and the town has a reputation for discouraging visitors, but if you find your way here, you will find the community is friendly, interesting and full of independent-minded creative people.

Courtesy of Elia Haworth, Curator of Coastal Marin Art & History, Bolinas Museum

 

Dogtown – the first Bolinas

Just north of the Bolinas turn off is the little settlement of Dogtown. This was the original Bolinas and entry to Rancho Las Baulines (established about 1834) whose boundaries defined the township until 1916. The lagoon side town’s location today was just called “The Point”, the place where schooners were loaded with lumber, dairy, farm products and people to transport to San Francisco.

The Gold Rush brought thousands
of immigrants into the tiny San Francisco and created an insatiable need for lumber to build a city. In 1850 hundreds
of men descended on Rancho Baulines to fell the primeval redwood forests and turn the ancient oaks and pines into firewood. Sawmills were built and the rowdy community of Baulines sprang up. Yankees simplified the spelling to Bolinas. In 1865, newspaper editor Ai Barney visited Bolinas and described it as “quite a settlement, and is known under the cogomen of “Dogtown”– being so called, we presume, from the immense number of canines which infest the place”. Dogs were for hunting bear and deer. He described it’s wagon-its businesses and five or six houses. A few of those buildings remain today including the first Bolinas schoolhouse. Three copper mines opened nearby and Bolinas was briefly renamed Copper Town, but mining failed. Eventually busy commerce at The Point drew the township of Bolinas.

The name Dogtown-Bolinas stuck for the settlement, much to the frustration of resident men who believed the name Dogtown hindered attracting marriageable women. On December 31, 1868, a town meeting was held, “to deliberate on the expediency of the proposition to make sausage of all the dogs and chose a more virtuous, modest and sweet-scented word of a warbling sound as a name more suitable for our thrifty town of decent inhabitants.” Dogtown-Bolinas became “Woodville.”

Woodville faded into a neighborhood of fewer residents and locals continued to call it Dogtown for over 100 years. Finally a local resident petitioned the Board of Supervisors of Marin County to restore the name. By unanimous resolution in April, 1976–it officially became Dogtown.

Courtesy of the Bolinas Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inverness

INVERNESS

Leave Point Reyes Station behind and head west, cross The Green Bridge and follow the sign for Inverness. This is Sir Francis Drake Blvd, named for the infamous British Admiral – explorer or pirate, who may or may not have landed at Drake’s Beach. Take a left on Bear Valley Road to access the lovely Limantour Beach or the Point Reyes National Seashore Visitor Center. At the visitor center Park rangers are available to give out information about the light-house, whale-watching, Tule elk, hiking trails, conditions in the park, history, wildlife, the ranches and more.  There are books for purchase and free brochures with trail maps.

Continuing north on SFD, the first settlement is Inverness Park, founded in 1911 around a trout hatchery. Perry’s Deli has been beautifully renovated and the name changed to Inverness Park Market. Chef Ed Vigil is turning out sumptuous deli food and offers complete dinner specials, changing each night. You may enjoy your meal with a glass of wine at the adjoining Gather at the Market. Their fresh fruit smoothies are not-to-be missed.   Next door, in the fanciful driftwood covered cottage, Spirit Matters, you’ll find one of a kind gifts. Friendly Motel Inverness, exuding the rustic chalet atmosphere typical of Inverness, beckons overnight guests.

Move on now to Inverness. Along the way enjoy lovely views across Tomales Bay

of the rolling hills of the eastern ranches, green in winter months, yellow in the summer. In “Downtown Inverness” a jewel of a pocket park featuring native plants is tucked beside the parking lot for Saltwater, the Post Office and Saltwater Depot. There are picnic tables here in the pretty park and more across the way behind the Inverness Store, where you can picnic near the much photographed wreck of an old fishing boat. The general store has picnic supplies, deli sandwiches, wine and beer, ice and a terrific selection of ice cream. On sunny days you may find BBQ’d oysters.

Affable Luc Chamberland’s much praised restaurant “Saltwater” has become the heart of this tight knit community. The menu showcases oysters and a treasure trove of organic Marin products.

Vladimir’s Czech Restaurant is a cozy spot for ice cold beer in the warm and friendly old world pub and a full service restaurant providing lunch and dinners, featuring roast duckling, wienerschnitzel, Moravian cabbage rolls, kilbasa, and apple strudel, a full bar, an outdoor patio. Vladimir’s daughter Vladia is usually on hand to steer wayfarers toward local treasures. Stroll down the lane beside Vladimir’s to the charming Inverness Library and Jack Mason Museum, across from the historic Ten Inverness Way, a popular Bed and Breakfast. When the library is open, the friendly librarians are the go-to source of information and local lore. Down the road The Dancing Coyote Beach Guest Cottages offer peaceful waterfront lodging. Don’t forget Manka’s Inverness Lodge up the hill on the left on Aberdeen Way, a 1910 hunting and fishing lodge built in the Arts and Crafts style.

The lovely old St. Columbo’s Episcopal Church and Retreat House was visited by Prince Charles and Camilla in 2005. The Retreat House offers worship and meeting spaces and overnight accommodations. Further up SFD on the right is the Tomales Bay Resort, a classic Marin family resort, newly renovated. The resort has an onsite activity center offering kayaks, bikes, hikes, massages, a marina and a boat launch and a swimming pool. Continuing on, Chicken Ranch beach is hidden on the right – no signage, but cars parked along the road give a clue. This beach, with its very shallow water, is the perfect place to take the little ones and the dog and you can put in your kayak here. Where the road turns west, the ecofriendly resort, The Cottages at Point Reyes, is a delightful place to stay.

If the pounding surf of the blue Pacific is your destination, a broad, wild breath-taking panorama awaits you out in the historic ranch land area of the Point Reyes Seashore.

Here at the end of the continent visit the Lighthouse, Chimney Rock and the Tule Elk Preserve. Visit www.nps.gov/pore or phone the Bear Valley Visitor Center at (415) 464-5100 for the most up-to-date information on the Park.