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Inverness - California

Gateway to Pt. Reyes

When you think of Inverness and Tomales Bay, you always see oysters -- acres of oysters. The native oysters were enjoyed by the Miwok Indians for thousands of years. Today, West Marin oysters are cultivated and grown by oyster farmers and served on the shell or in a dozen other ways in the seafood cafes clustered around the bay.

Things to See and Do

Some of these cafes are in the town of Inverness, which lies on the sheltered side of the Pt. Reyes peninsula, where if one had eternal life, one would ride north toward Alaska thanks to the San Andreas Fault which lies under the bay.

The town lies next to Pt. Reyes National Seashore, one of the major natural attractions in Northern California.

Inverness was founded as a summer resort by James Shafter, a lawyer and ranch owner who was a partner in the narrow-gauge railway operation. He landed in debt and paid it off by subdividing his land in 1889. This is a cozy town, with period architecture. For the past hundred years it has remained a rustic little seaport. A museum in the library building displays artifacts of this early Inverness development.

Tomales Bay State Park is also on the quiet side of the bay, with swimming beaches, trails and picnic sites. It is reached by taking Sir Francis Drake Highway past Inverness. There are several sandy-bottom coves -- Indian, Hearts Desire (the main beach), Pebble, and Shell -- with good swimming and sunbathing. There is a stand of Bishop pine in the park, a species not found off the peninsula. Rock cockles are abundant along the shore, below the sandstone bluffs. There is a shady picnic area of a dozen tables overlooking the water near Heart's Desire Beach.

Inverness Hotels & Cottages

Manka's Inverness Lodge
(415-669-1034)
Set on a hillside above the town and long one of the most fascinating lodging places in California, Manka's was originally a private hunting lodge. After a recent devastating fire, they're still working on the main lodge building. Even withoiut the main lodge, this a wonderful romantic place to spend a getaway, and the food and service are as good as the surroundings. It's expensive but many visitors think it's worth it for the experience. You can stay in one of several cabins, or at the boathouse on Tomales Bay. We look forward to the day when the main lodge and dining room are restored.

Ten Inverness Way
415-669-1648
Ten Inverness Way is a B&B inn with four rooms in a redwood shingle cottage with library, bar and whirlpool. The inn gets a lot of return guests, some who come here every year, for the great accommodations and the reasonable prices.

Inverness Motel
12718 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. (866-453-3839 toll-free, or 415-236-1967)
This standard motel has budget accommodation, with restaurants nearby.

Blackthorne Inn, in nearby Inverness Park
266 Vallejo Avenue, Inverness Park, (415-545-4415)
This is an unusual building which grew like topsy, with a windowed tower above the main building. It was recently renovated and looks like a large and quite distinctive tree house. There are six bedrooms. Breakfast is served.

Staying in a private cottage is a preferred way to stay here, and for very cozy accommodations you may wish to stay at Rosemary Cottages 75 Balboa Avenue, (415-663-9338) a French country cottage furnished with antiques with a full kitchen and wood stove; or at Secret Garden Cottage, 501 Via De La Vista (415-663-8020) where you make your own breakfast in a full kitchen. This is a one bedroom-one bath private craftman-style cottage with an large outdoor deck and hot tub.

Tomales Bay Resort
12938 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. (415-669-1389 or 800-339-9398 toll-free) If you want to stay close-up to Tomales Bay, you need to stay here. With 35 rooms set right beside the lightly lapping waves of the bay, you get an atmospheric experience with an unparalled view, with birds flying bay, the famous mist coming in and out, and a bay-side swimming pool. There are rooms in the main building and several options in adjacent buiuldings, including the expensive Captain's Quarters and The Tomales Bay Suite.

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