Name: Tomales Bay
Location: 5479 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall, CA 94940
I’ve heard people wax poetic about the oyster farms north of San Francisco enough times to finally go myself. From home base, it’s a two hour drive to get there and requires waking up at the crack of dawn. The first stretch of the drive is the basic California freeway system, paved roads and concrete walls leading the way.
Once you’ve entered Marin county, however, it’s like being transported into a New England port town without leaving the state of California. If you make all the right turns, the road leads you to a quaint downtown where antique dealers and locally run shops rule. But the road to Tomales Bay is far from idyllic itself; the twists and turns along the way are enough to churn even the strongest stomachs.
It’s all worth it, however, once you reach Tomales Bay.
The oyster farm is, as indicated by the name, situated on a bay. Picnic tables are scattered throughout and arriving early is highly recommended. Tomales Bay opens at 9am and closes by 5pm daily. While it may seem like a long time, you can pass a day there in a blink of an eye.
They don’t sell very much other than oysters, clams, mussels, and some accompaniments so it’s necessary to bring anything and everything else you’re going to need. This includes all the cookware, utensils, and other food you’ll need for the day. Luckily, other picnickers are usually nice enough to loan or barter for items if you forget something.
Oyster shucking isn’t as intimidating as it looks, thankfully. After some initial hesitations, everyone was an expert by the end of the day.
A small charcoal grill sits by each table and on windy days, it may take a few attempts to get the fire going. Cooking can take up a long part of the day depending on what you bring. On this trip, we brought potatoes and corn to go along with the oysters and clams. Other seasoned groups brought meat to grill, pasta, and soup!
Maybe it’s part pride from shucking it myself, but these were easily the best oysters I’ve had. The whole trip overall was worth the trek and all the preparation in advance. I’d go back again in a heartbeat.