You could say that the city of Richmond has its good points. A map of the waterfront around the East Bay city shows five: Point Richmond, Point San Pablo and Point Molate, as well as Point Pinole and Point Isabel regional parks.
Point San Pablo and Point Richmond are interesting places to spend a few hours eating and drinking, contemplating art and walking around.
Point San Pablo, which overlooks a harbor of the same name, is slightly lesser known. It’s reached via a three-mile winding drive along San Pablo Bay. While driving, you’ll pass Point Molate, a closed Navy fuel depot that is awaiting its next incarnation. You’ll also see East Brother Light Station located offshore. East Brother is a former Victorian-era lighthouse turned bed and breakfast, on its own island.
Point San Pablo Harbor is home to a half dozen art pieces from Burning Man, and viewing the art is worth the drive to this otherwise isolated destination. Many visitors have a meal, then wander around the large sculptures. Most of the art is located near a gravel parking lot, but one 9-foot-tall sculpture called Asterpod by Michael Christian is on the opposite side, past the houseboats. Most visitors are also drawn to Niloticus, a 40-foot-long mosaic crocodile by Peter Hazel covered with cobalt, blue and emerald ceramic and tile. After dark, the sculpture is lit up with LEDs. There are many benches in the area and places to sit to enjoy the art. On weekends, there’s music at the restaurant, The Sailing Goat, as well entertainment presented by the Point San Pablo Harbor community.
Visitors also may walk a few yards inland and see the goats kept nearby. The animals are the namesake for the harbor’s eatery, which opened in April. After ordering at the front, visitors may sit outside under the restaurant’s roof and gaze out onto the harbor and San Pablo Bay toward Marin County.
Owner and executive chef Arnon Oren honed his skills at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Oliveto in Oakland. Open Fridays through Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., The Sailing Goat is a casual place (reservations are not taken) with good food and drinks.
The menu includes pizzas made in a wood-burning oven, fish stews, salads and a variety of beverages. For dessert, consider ordering the peach cobbler with whipped crème fraiche. It has three varieties of peach; none tasted like they came from Del Monte.
Returning from Point San Pablo, hop on Interstate Highway 580 and travel one exit to arrive at Point Richmond. Head to the inland area, a national historic district recognized for its architecture. It’s a neat neighborhood, with interesting brick buildings and Victorian-era homes that date back to the 19th century.
Check out the three-story Hotel Mac, built in 1911, and the old firehouse, which today is filled with offices. The downtown also features the Sentinel statue, which shows a standing Native American. It was erected in 1908, but when it toppled during World War II it was melted down as scrap metal. It was replaced in 1984.
Point Richmond also is home to art galleries, restaurants and bars, a restored train station, and a popular public indoor swimming pool, the Richmond Plunge, or as the sign on its roof says, “Municipal Natatorium.” Located at 1 E. Richmond Ave., and dating from 1926, it underwent a long renovation and reopened in 2010.