Judge James Shafter, whose sharp-eyed family wound up with the Point Reyes peninsula following California statehood, subdivided the wooded west shore of Tomales Bay in 1889 to recover some railroading losses. Inverness - Shafter was a Scotsman - served as a summer town from the start, a magnet for many of the Bay Area's comfortable set and later, refugees from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake who unknowlingly relocated atop the same, mischievous San Andreas Fault. Over time, Inverness has also drawn its share of artists and academicians.
A high percentage of the homes remain with their original families. One can find Shafter descendents, as well as the grand-nephew of the last tsar of Russia, plus heirs to this or that fortune that was gained generations before dot.com Monopoly money.
Many old-timey traditions survive: swimming lessons at Shell Beach (at the end of Camino del Mar), a full calendar of sailing races in summer, foot races on July 4, and in early spring, the garden club's Primrose Tea. To walk the shady lanes under a canopy of bay, oak, and pine, is to sense a bygone era of endless family picnics, with kids meeting up to adventure in the woods or camp on the beach - an era, observes local writer John Grissim, which if it didn't exist, it certainly should have.
For the visitor, Inverness marks the last settlement before entering the mass of the Point Reyes National Seashore, 72,000 acres of wilderness and beach and ranchland from which one can still see San Francisco.
What's the weather like in Point Reyes and Inverness?
Autumn in the Point Reyes National Seashore is clear and warm. When the gray whales run off our coast, December through February, (you can see them from the Lighthouse), it's bright and clear between rainstorms. On spring days, you'll often spy a whale off the wildflower-covered hills of Tomales Point or Chimney Rock. In summer, plan to swim in Tomales Bay. And there's almost no day of the year when you can't enjoy a hike - even if it's raining. The pleasures of coming home wet and chilly to a warm fire, fresh baked cookies and a good book at Ten Inverness Way make rain look downright attractive.
Things to Do - A Sample Itinerary
Start at Point Reyes National Seashore Headquarters
At Tomales Bay State Park, Heart's Desire Beach is perfect for swimming; the picnic area has tables and grills overlooking the bay. And if it's foggy on the ocean side, it's often sunny here. Hike the Johnstone Trail, along the bay from beach to beach.
Picnic at Heart's Desire Beach, a Bay Beach
Automobile sightseers, head out to the Lighthouse or Point Reyes Beaches North and South. Hikers, visit Kehoe Beach for drama and long miles of comfortable walking. Abbott's Lagoon is the place to hike on a foggy day; the waves seem to roll in from a cloud. Chimney Rock is perfect in whale and wildflower season in particular.
Hike to Kehoe Beach,
a Pacific Beach
Samuel P. Taylor State Park has plenty. Hike Tomales Point Trail: Hike along the spine of Point Reyes with views to the Pacific on one side and to peaceful Tomales Bay on the other. This is the home of the Tule elk. Take a convenient detour from the trailhead down to McClure's Beach for tide pooling.
Hug a Redwood at Samuel P. Taylor
Enjoy Fresh Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. or Tomales Bay Oyster Company
Enjoy fresh oysters straight from the water. Bring a bottle of wine or barbecue your oysters on site. Both are located on the eastern side of Tomales Bay, a beautiful coastal drive which takes about 30 minutes from the Inn.