Olema was once thought to be the epicenter of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake due to the huge fault rifts still visible via a nearby hiking path. There are historical references to this in and around the town, including at shops and restaurants. However, more recent evidence suggests that a location near Daly City is more likely the epicenter.
Olema was also the title subject of the late-1960s country-rock song, "Hippie from Olema", The Youngbloods' rejoinder to Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee".
The Olema post office opened in 1859, closed in 1860, and re-opened in 1864.
Olema has a few shops, two restaurants, a lodge, and several bed and breakfasts. Nearby is a large campground and also a large retreat for the Vedanta Society (a branch of Hinduism). Also, the Bear Valley Visitor Center, a quarter-mile from town on Bear Valley Road, provides a standard starting point for a visit to the Point Reyes National Seashore. Inside the center are exhibits and books for sale. Outside are picnic tables, a Morgan horse ranch, and Kule Loklo, a reconstructed Miwok village.