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Welcome to Tomales

Just north of the Tomales Bay sits a peaceful little town called Tomales. Like most of the towns in the western half of Marin County, Tomales doesn’t have much in common with the bustling economic centers and cosmopolitan residential neighborhoods so common in the east. Tomales was once on its way to cultural and economic relevance, but the railroad moved and the town began its slow descent into peaceful obscurity. Nowadays, Tomales is full of people enjoying the local scenery and each other’s company.

Lay of the Land

Tomales is located in the northwestern section of Marin County, just above Tomales Bay and just east of Dillon Beach. Even though Tomales is not as close to The Point Reyes National Seashore as many of the communities that line the Tomales Bay, it’s still close enough that most people consider it a part of the Point Reyes Peninsula region. Surprisingly, unlike most of the communities in the county, Tomales isn’t surrounded by a national park or an open space preserve. The 204 residents of Tomales are part of one of the more economically modest communities in the county. The estimated median income for the area this $38,375 while the estimated median home value for the area is $653,717.


Tomales has the poor luck of being one of the most isolated communities in a county with what could be generously described as a modest transportation infrastructure. This means that for the most part, the only way to access Tomales is via California State Route 1. Fortunately, Route 1 is a road that follows the Pacific Ocean along the entire western edge of California. It provides access to Sonoma County in the north and the Bay Area in the south. Additionally, the West Marin Stagecoach, a series of small shuttles that connect the western edges of the county with the more populous eastern section of the county, features a stop in Tomales.

Local Highlights

Despite a rich history and reasonable proximity to the shore, for the most part, Tomales is a tiny residential community. It is not as much of a destination as many of the communities in the area because it is not located directly along the shore, visitors have to first pass all of the communities in the Point Reyes Peninsula region when traveling along Route 1 to get to Tomales, and Dillon Beach, the only privately held beach in the region, is two miles to the west. However, Tomales does attract a few visitors each year.

The William Tell House is an old style saloon and restaurant located along Highway 1 in Tomales. It has a rich history, existing in one form or another in the area since the 1880’s. While it has changed hands several times over its 130 year history, and has undergone extensive restorations, the William Tell House still resembles the classic saloon that it once was. The menu features numerous local favorites and incorporates locally grown products on a seasonal rotational basis.

On a separate note, the Tomales Deli offers patrons a lighter, less formal dining option. Though it focuses on using the same locally procured seasonal organic ingredients as the William Tell House, “The Deli,” as it is affectionately known by residents, provides meals designed to be consumed on-the-go are at an alternate location. This is also true of the Tomales Bakery, a local establishment which provides a collection of breads, croissants, and danishes for hungry residents and visitors alike.

The Continental Inn is located among the rolling hills of downtown Tomales. Though recently built, it is designed to be a replica of the original Continental Inn that once stood on the same location. It features a total of nine rooms, each designed around a separate theme and with a personalized amenity package.

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