In the 24 years that we've lived in California we had never been to the Point Reyes Lighthouse so we finally decided to take our 7-year-old son to see it. It was well worth the trip!
We checked in at the Bear Valley Visitor Center to make sure the conditions were good for a Lighthouse visit. Sometimes the winds are so strong that they close it, and sometimes it is so foggy that you don't have any views. You can call ahead too.
The drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center out to the Lighthouse is about 40 minutes, but the drive is so beautiful and interesting that the time goes very fast. You will drive through the adorable town of Inverness and along the shores of beautiful Tomales Bay.
If you go in the Spring or early Summer, the wildflowers are in full bloom! There are many ranches on the way and the cattle are enjoying their free range style, in fact they are sometimes ranging in the middle of the road! We ended up seeing a lot of wildlife that day: tons of cattle, elephant seals, 13 deer, and a coyote!
When you get closer to the Lighthouse you will encounter spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and Drake's Bay on the other. It takes your breath away to be on the very edge of the continent!
There are restrooms at the Lighthouse parking lot. From there you take a short walk on a maintenance road.
There is a small Lighthouse gift shop at the top with some hands-on things for the kids, whale information, and books.
Then you arrive at the top of the Lighthouse steps and WOW is all I can say!
308 stairs down to the Lighthouse! The stairs are cemented and there are sturdy, fenced-in rails on both sides so it is very safe for children. The views all around you are unbelievable!
When you get to the Lighthouse you can walk around the bottom and middle decks for more photo opps.
You can also go inside both the Lighthouse and the companion house and learn about the lives of the original Lighthouse keepers (the Lighthouse is now automated).
But save your energy because what goes down must come up again!
On your way back from the Lighthouse we highly recommend a short side trip to the Elephant Seal Overlook. Take the Road to Chimney Rock Trailhead and park in the parking lot at the end. There you will see a short foot path to the Elephant Seal Overlook. You can view them from a pretty close distance!
The Lighthouse is closed every Tuesday and Wednesday. Check in at the Bear Valley Visitor Center for conditions before you make the drive out there.
There are many other things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore: countless hiking trails, beaches, backpacking, and kayaking. Visit the Point Reyes Website for more information. Happy exploring!