Welcome to Olema
Like many of the tiny communities in Western Marin County, Olema is a holdover from an earlier time, a time when the state was a rollicking frontier and full of developing industry in the 1800’s. This was a time when the livelihood of any particular place relied on the whims of the railroad. Unfortunately, Olema was bypassed in favor of Point Reyes Station in the north. After the railroad left, the town began its slow descent into obscurity. Luckily, existence is cyclical, and Olema has found new life as an historic location and Marin County recreation spot.
Lay of the Land
Olema is often referred to as the “Gateway” to the Point Reyes National Seashore by virtue of its southerly position along Highway 101. This makes it impossible to reach Point Reyes Station or any of the other vacation destinations along the Tomales Bay by road without first moving through Olema. The community is several miles southeast of the seashore and the bay itself. Olema is an unincorporated community and even lacks a census designation, making specific data for the area hard to come by. However, as is the norm for Marin County, home prices and income averages are most likely well above state averages.
Transportation of any sort is limited in the western section of Marin County by virtue of the number of protected spaces and ordinances preventing large scale development. However, Olema is a major hub of transportation, at least by the standards of Western Marin County. It sits along the intersection of State Highway 1 which provides regional access, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, which is a major county road, and Bear Valley Road, which meanders through the Point Reyes Station region of the county. When it comes to public transportation however the community of Olema is limited in its options. The West Marin Stagecoach provides shuttle services designed to access the more rural communities in the undeveloped sections of the county. Stagecoach routes run to a variety of locations in the area around Olema.
Olema lacks any major residential infrastructure or commercial sections. For the most part, the town consists of buildings leftover from the region’s earliest modern settlement and a few modern homes. Surprisingly, Olema is also home to several local restaurants and lodging options. Ranging in shape and size, these locations cater to a diverse clientele.
The Olema farm house is a combination restaurant, bar, local grocery, and fully functional deli. It bills itself as one of the original establishments in the region, with the building first opening its doors in the mid 1800’s. Currently, the restaurant and bar focus on serving a modern array of locally grown and produced items rotated on a seasonal basis. The grocery and deli side of the business is focused on providing quick and easy meals for visitors traveling to one of the local parks or further down the road to one of the beach side locations. The Sir and Star on the other hand is a much newer dining location. The Sir and Star features a more complex menu and a reservation only dining experience. It is currently available for dinner reservations only.
While Olema lacks a luxury resort, it does feature numerous lodging options of a more quaint nature. These include the Alta Olema Bed and Breakfast, Bear Valley Inn, Inn at Roundstone Farm, Olema Cottages, the Olema Druids Hall, and several local campgrounds. Each of these locations provides a different sense of comfort, level of service, and quality of experience. Visitors can feel confident that their needs will be met whether they are seeking a single night’s stopover on their way to somewhere else or designing an extended regional visit around the community of Olema.