Californians have always had a remarkable talent for escape. We made an entire state for this purpose, did we not?
From the peaks to the valleys, expansive cities to tiny, rural towns, inlets and islands, and everything else in the space between fantasies, this state knows how to get out of dodge in gorgeous places.
We just happen to have a near-perfect suggestion for your next escape plan. For locals, it’s prime for a short stint or a long trip, located just over an hour away in minimal traffic.
Nick’s Cove, located in Marshall, CA on Tomales Bay, originated in the 1930s. The ‘30s were, we like to think, the decade the road trip was born. For the first time, Americans owned cars and were quite literally going places. Weekend trips or extended vacations with the family became more commonplace for the growing middle class. Thus, Nick’s Cove was born. A series of little cottages nestled along the bay served as an idyllic location to while away a few days. That, along with the scenery, wildlife, and hunting and game nearby, solidified the staying power of the spot. Nick’s closed for a stint starting in 1999, only to be brought back to life in 2007 with more energy and escapist qualities than ever before.
So about those cottages we mentioned... they’re really something. We can’t recommend any place better to rest your head while exploring Point Reyes National Seashore. While the cottages may be surrounded by Northern California’s finest coastal views and hiking trails for perfectly aimless wandering through nature, we wouldn’t judge you if all you did was eat oysters on the private deck of your little cottage while kayakers glide across the bay and Great Egrets stand spindly-legged in the sandy mud at low tide. Truly, this is a perfectly acceptable manner in which to bide your vacation time. Mornings are perhaps the most beautiful, with the lapping of water beneath your cottage and fresh coffee, tea, and pastries delivered warm to your door by a kindly attentive staff. And the bathrooms are so lovely, in fact, we actively considered sleeping in the claw-foot tub. Gorgeous with wainscoting and ample floor space and a rain shower head, it was a hard goodbye to reckon with at our stay’s end.
For one, the food is worth a jaunt out of the city, whether you’re staying overnight at Nick’s Cove or not (though, for the record, we highly recommend you do both). While most widely-known for their BBQ oysters—served complimentary to guests staying in the cottages—the rest of the menu at Nick’s is just as exceptional. In the spirit of California’s tradition of farm-to-table eateries (thank you, Alice Waters), Nick’s Cove features seafood, meat, veggies, bread, and dairy sourced from surrounding farms, gardens, and the generous bay. Think: Straus Creamery, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, Cowgirl Creamery, Larry Wagner Farms, Hog Island Oyster Co., and Petaluma Poultry to name a few.
While the water is surely one of the most attention-catching aspects of Nick’s Cove and the surrounding area, the earthy seaside landscape deserves your time as well. The Croft, for example, is Nick’s Cove’s very own garden. Small but mighty, the entire space is landscaped along the side of a grassy hill overlooking the restaurant, cottages, and bay. This arrangement is not only beautiful, but functional as well. The resident garden manager, Brendan Thomas, has worked extensively for the past two years to build out the space by cultivating the soil, utilizing permanent beds for crops and flowers, and embracing the coastal climate. Onsite, you’ll find an abundance of leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus, along with a rain garden of wildflowers, a coop full of healthy, colorful chickens producing a variety of multicolored fresh eggs—and an enormous rooster, who will be thrilled to show off his silver feathers and harem of hens to you.
// 23240 CA-1, Marshall, CA, nickscove.com, photography by Isabella Welch.
Isabella Welch is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in history. Her writing has been featured in history journals, travel blogs, as well as her own site, New Carthage. Director of Editorial & Creative Development at Bob Cut Mag, lover of stories and tinto de verano, she’s usually found wandering the Headlands.