With a three-hour stay in the park, visitors can see and do a number of things, one of which is to visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse.Travel time to the Lighthouse parking lot from the Bear Valley Visitor Center is approximately 45 minutes. From the parking lot it is a 10–15 minute walk to the Lighthouse Visitor Center. The Lighthouse can be seen from the observation deck located near the Lighthouse Visitor Center. To reach the Lighthouse itself you must descend 308 stairs from the observation deck to the facility. Note: The Lighthouse Visitor Center and the steps leading down to the Lighthouse are only open Fridays through Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and on days of high winds.
A 35–40 minute drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center can also get you to the Pierce Point Ranch and Tule Elk Reserve. Here you can learn about the history of dairy ranching in the park though interpretive signs and historical structures. A short hike from the Pierce Point Ranch will take you into the 1,050 hectare (2,600 acre) preserve where nearly 400 tule elk roam free. They can be seen any time of the year and often can be seen from the ranch parking lot. The most exciting time to see the tule elk is during the fall rut (late July through November).
Many of the park's beaches can be reached within a half-hour to forty-minute drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. These include Limantour Beach, Drakes Beach, and North and South Beaches, as well as Heart's Desire Beach in Tomales Bay State Park. Several others may be reached by foot.
Another popular destination is the Ken Patrick Visitor Center located at Drakes Beach. The visitor center has an impressive display of exhibits featuring 16th-century maritime exploration, marine fossils, and the marine environment. A full-sized minke whale skeleton is suspended from the center's ceiling. Note: The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is closed through late December 2013. It will reopen for weekends and holidays beginning December 28, 2013 from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm for the duration of the winter shuttle bus system.
If you would prefer hiking for a few hours, Divide Meadow from the Bear Valley Trailhead is a pleasant destination and resting point for a picnic. From the trailhead it is a casual stroll through a mixed Douglas fir forest along Bear Valley Creek to the tree-lined open grasses of the meadow. (5.1 km / 3.2 mi) Another nice 3-hour hike is up to Mt. Wittenberg from Bear Valley Visitor Center. This steep 400 m / 1300 ft climb to the highest point in the park is not for the weak-hearted, but provides the adventurer with panoramic views of the Seashore and Olema Valley. (8 km / 5 mi)