It’s a BEAUTIFUL Labor Day weekend in the Bay Area – so what do you do? You go up to Tomales Bay Oyster Company. Tomales Bay Oyster Company is about an hour north from San Francisco. Lots of winding roads and twisting routes – that’s why the ride is an hour. But when you get there, it’s a beautiful picnic area. The concept is easier to explain to you by telling you my adventure. Keep reading to find out more about this treasure gem!
(Plus some tips and hints to make this an amazing experience at the end!)
We woke up around 8 in the morning to prepare to leave as soon as possible. With the long drive ahead of us, and picnic tables on a first come first serve basis (even with reservations) – my friends and I were out on a mission: to score the best picnic table at the mini oyster farm park. Get the one tables near the bathrooms and you’re covered under a shade, but you’re cramped and don’t really get to see the gorgeous lake. Get the tables along the shore and you’re golden. Large umbrellas, a small beach lake at your toe-tips and you’ve got self a beautiful picnic. Of course the tables along the side behind these aren’t bad as well. You’re in the shade, and you get to see the lake in the background.
Pictures are views from the bathroom area, so the little wooden shack in the first pictures holds about 8 parties.
The winding roads make me car sick, but I can’t help but stare out the window to at look at the gorgeous blue ocean as we twist and hug the mountain curves. We arrive and no surprise, the parking lot is full so we park on the side of road shoulder just like the other 30 cars or so. We unpack the car with our “supplies” and walk over. We’re golden because we get the best seat in the house.
What, in my opinion, the good side looks like.
Above is the lake side. I’m standing right next to the grill and the nice lake is right at our toes! As the day goes on, the tide gets higher and water rises right next to us. The picnic area is elevated so you take a giant step down into this.
Now we wait as our friends arrive one by one. Some are bringing beer and booze, others are bringing chips, cups, and utensil supplies, water, and of course the marinated short ribs, chicken wings, and pork belly. Yes folks, this is a real picnic! This place supplies you with the table and grill – and of course oysters, clams, and mussels. We prepare our table and order 50 oysters – I think. $1 oysters anyone? You can rent shuckers there for a deposit of $3 or 5 (I can’t remember). But they give it back to you when you return the shuckers. Spent a few hours of course eating, chatting, cheers, and by 4pm the workers are trying to kick us out.
This place has TONS of stuff. Oysters, clams, and mussels. Plus all the food you bring yourself – you really can’t starve. As you can tell, there is parking but you might have to walk quite a way before you reach picnic area. Reservations are recommended but they give up your table if you’re not there by 11. There are quite a few “rules & regulation” in terms of reservations, first come first serve, number of people in your party, and etc. I hard to explain and go over them all but it’s on the website here. They made quite a few changes from the first time I went, but it didn’t impact our experience too much.
This is definitely something you must plan out well. The days, who is bringing what, and who is driving. To be honest, we came in about 4-6 cars and our party had about 10-15 people. With work schedules and everyone living in different areas, this was just easier. They aren’t too “strict” on regulating, but for a positive experience I would work with as much as you can when coordinating plans.
Tips: – Make sure someone reliable gets there first and on time – whether you have reservations or not.
– With this being said, make sure the person who is bringing the MAIN COURSE is one of the first few people to arrive. You don’t want to be the first few and find out the MEAT man will be 1-2 hours late. And then you’re stuck there. With NO FOOD!
– CASH ONLY!!
– They do have soda machine in case you get thirsty, and they have a huge ice machine. Bring your own bag and buckets.
– Bring SUNSCREEN! For some reasons, no one thought of this. At all.
– Bring foil, cutlery, tongs, anything you’ll need for a successful BBQ.
– If you didn’t quite get it, bring everything you would bring for a BBQ – food, snacks, etc. You get to picnic there.
– Bring lots of water.
– Bring s’mores. Yes s’mores.
– Make you have designated drivers. This is not a joke. The drive can be dangerous, regardless of which route you take, no matter how “good” your friends say that – please make sure someone who is responsible will be driving.
– Bring spare clothes in case – especially if you’re bringing kids. They’ll most likely want to jump in the water and play around.
– Bring hand wipes, towels, hand sanitizer. Anything to clean yourself. They don’t provide paper towels.
– Bring a cooler if you’d like.
– Be prepare to stand. We stood around and kept food on the table and chairs. You get one picnic table. So you don’t get one table to put food on and one to eat at. One table for everything.
– If you’re bringing a purse, be prepared to place it on something not clean or carry it with you everywhere.
It’s great for picnics & BBQ, birthdays, or just large get togethers to hang out.
Tomales Bay Oyster Company
15479 Hwy 1
Marshall, CA 94940