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California: Vintage Tomales Bay farmhouse opens for vacation stays

Straus Home Ranch that's been a dairy farm since 1941 opens as a Tomales Bay vacation rental

If you want to learn a thing or two about California's early organic farming movement, read up on the Straus family. They have had a dairy farm on Tomales Bay north of San Francisco since 1941. Heifers still graze behind the farmhouse along Highway 1. 

Ellen and Bill Straus ran the 160-acre farm in rural West Marin, which became the first organic dairy farm in the West. They did more than just farm too. Ellen also was an environmental activist known for her work on founding a land trust in 1980 that would protect the area's dairies and farms from development.

Now the Straus Home Ranch farmhouse that's more than 150 years old has been renovated and listed as a vacation rental. The location is a great stepping-off point for hiking (it's right near Point Reyes National Seashore), kayaking on Tomales Bay, tide pooling at nearby beaches, and touring organic farms in the area.

The house with upper and lower porches has four bedrooms (sleeps eight), living and dining rooms, and even a piano. It rents for $750 a night with a two-night minimum.

With advance notice, children Michael and Vivien will take guests on a hike to the fields and tell the farm's story too, its website says.

Info: Straus Home Ranch, (415) 335-6630, or email


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