Thirteen designated State and County beaches provide 30,000 acres for leisurely strolls along the shore. Play chase with the waves, watch the seals and sea lions surf, throw bits of crackers and bread to the seagulls and settle onto a driftwood log to watch the endless parade of waves crashing the shore.
Strap your binoculars around your neck and head onto wetlands trails along the bay and coast for some of the best coastal bird-watching youíll ever experience. Our protected coast offers year-round shelter to migrating birds as well as permanent residents who take advantage of an abundance of food and a perfect environment for raising families.
Discover a wide variety of shells on the beach, admire them, play with them, photograph them, but donít take them home. Please leave them for others to discover.
Whether itís raining or the sun is shining, the coastal roads are always a pleasure for rides. Get yourself off the beaten track for some thrills in the hills or stick to Coast Highway 1 and head North for panoramic views up and down the coast and straight down to the crashing surf.
There are many ways to watch whales along our coast. One of the most spectacular is to take one of our boat cruises out to sea and get close to the migration route. Still thrilling is the ride out to the end of Bodega Head where volunteers answer your questions, give mini-seminars and help people sight the spouts and black humps rising from the waves.
Whether you cast your line into the surf or the river, or charter a boat out onto the sea, you can choose your thrill and the kind of sea life you want for dinner. The Sonoma Coast, Russian River and tributaries are famous for fish of all kinds.
Park at the lower parking lot at Goat Rock State Beach or on the top of the hill at Jenner and hike to the end of the Russian River. Youíll find a large herd of seals bathing in the sun, slipping in our out of the water and surfing the current where the river joins the sea. In Spring, they use the beach area for giving birth to their pups. This has been designated a protected territory for the seals, so please respect the signs and stay a safe distance. Youíll often volunteers ready to answer your questions as they keep a watchful eye out for the sealsí safety.
Pack you horse into a trailer or just rent a horse out here. Coastal parks and private ranches offer many opportunities to wander through the dunes and long the beach while other trails go up into the hills for spectacular views of the coast.
Call ahead to find out when the tide is low then head to one of the rocky shores where broad shelves reach out into the water and reveal sea urchins, star fish, tiny crabs and rocks covered with mussels and barnacles among a wide variety of sea life suddenly visible.
There is an abundance of places for a quick snack, whether you want a bite to eat or need to load up your picnic basket. Search out the bakeries, full-service delis and even a crab shack then take your munchies to a hilltop or beach for a view while you eat.
Scattered far and wide among our inland valleys, youíll see tiny, boutique wineries nestled into the hills offering rare treasures not available through large markets. The Visitors Center will have maps and lists of wineries you may want to visit.
In early spring and fall one of the funniest sight is baby lambs romping in pastures along our hills and valleys. Watch them jump and twist in the air before the settle into the more sedate life of mature sheep.
Take a tent and gear to one of our environmental campgrounds along the Russian River or pull up an RV to our fully developed slots on the coastal camping parks. You have a full range of experiences to choose from whether you want to be alone among the stars or camped among your fellow travelers.
Grab a wet suit and your board and head to a wide open beach. The waves are just right for wild rides. Check with one of our surf shops for the dayís best spots.
If you look real close, there are beaches that seem to grow sand dollars in the surf. With a little luck, youíll find perfect, round dollars with deeply etched patterns on their backs.
One of the unique ways to throw a party around here is to charter a boat and crew then head out to sea or meander around the bay. Your friends will be talking about what a great time they had for years to come!
Find yourself a beach with soft, wet sand and build your dream castle with shells and pebbles to decorate the walls and fortify your structure against the ravage of impending waves. But donít limit yourself to just castles. Get creative, sculpt mermaids, seals and flying fish while youíre at it!
At some time during your day of fun your sweet tooth is going to start begging for sugar. This is one place where you can satisfy that craving beyond the grocery store candy bar. Thereís a wealth of salt water taffy stores with their own secret recipes for the chewy confection and lots of ice cream shops with all the flavors.
Get away from reality and come to one of our many bed and breakfast inns, lodges, hotels and vacation rental homes. There are enough choices to give you reason to come back over and try them all. Choose from luxury rooms overlooking the bay to antique furnished rooms in a B & B to a complete house on the coast with all the amenities of home.
Our coastline boasts some of the best surfing spots along the northern shore. Call ahead to one of the local surfing shops for weather and wave conditions. Some spots offer long, low waves crashing onto sandy beaches, others present the challenge of surfing into rocky coves. Thereís always someone braving the waves.
Set the scene at a cozy little restaurant with candlelit tables or a view of the sunset across the bay. Your selection ranges from fresh fish and shell fish or barbeque ribs and chickens to hearty steak from range fed beef. Vegetarians will find our restaurants and cafťs offer unique vegetable specialties inspired by local residentsí passion for a healthy life.
Make sure you visit one of our many art galleries and studios displaying paintings, sculptures, fine jewelry, handcrafted ceramics, antiques and contemporary Japanese prints. Many artists come to live in our inspirational region creating masterpieces youíll find nowhere else.
Just in case you find our beautiful area impossible to resist, stop in at one of our many real estate offices and get an idea of whatís available for a vacation home, a perfect place to retire or even a chance to start over again in a new place.
Take a back road and climb into the hills for views of the entire coast where cars rarely travel. Follow the ridges and watch birds from their vantage points as you look down towards the sea. Or take your mountain bikes along designated trails in the coastal and inland parks.
As the Russian River meanders through the inland hills, it passes by lush forests with towering old growth Redwoods. As you approach the sea, the countryside opens to broad expanses of grass-covered terrain where sheep, cattle and horses graze in total contentment. Catch the fog rolling in on a summer evening like cascading clouds hugging the hillsides as they spill into the warm valleys. Bring your own canoe, or rent one near by.
Thereís a wealth of history residing in our small villages where locals treasure the past by preserving its buildings and atmosphere. Pick up our Sonoma Coast brochure at the Visitors Center.
One thing about coastal towns thatís consistently true; thereís always an excuse to celebrate something. From the Fishermanís Festival with its bathtub and a parade of boats decorated as theme floats to kite festivals and art festivals and any old excuse for music, food and crafts. Check with the Visitors Center for a schedule of events coming up throughout the year.
Itís hard to go on vacation without bringing gifts home for your family and friends. Explore our tiny boutiques, candy and gift shops and take a peek at the vast array of T-shorts, wind socks, banners, kites and other souvenir items to commemorate your trip.
From the early days of winter when the rains bring life to seeds scattered during summer, the hills come alive with flowers of every variety and color. Sea pinks, California golden poppies, Paintbrush, wild radish in yellow, white and lavender and Lupine are just a few of the wild flowers painting the hills and ocean bluffs with color throughout the year.
People come from all over the world to play golf on our areaís unique courses and links. Choose the serenity of inland hills with spectacular views or the challenge of wind and terrain right on the coast overlooking the bay and sea.
Thereís nothing quite like casting your kite to the wind when it offers a strong steady breeze all year long. Whether you fly on the beach or choose a hill above the sea. If you donít own a good, strong kite, stop in one of our local kite stores for everything you need.
Take your pick of hiking among the sand dunes or up into the coastal hills. There are many well-marked trailed in our coastal parks. Bring along a day pack and picnic for some spectacular sights. And donít forget your camera!
If you think the world above water is spectacular, you should take a look below sea level. Check in at one of our dive shops for tidal information and tips on the best places to dive. This is definitely sport for experienced divers since the current and waves can get tricky. But for those who know, itís hard to find a better cold water dive.
Our area attracts health conscious people from all over. We probably have more certified massage therapists per capita than any place in the world! Whether you go to their place of business or hire one to come to where you are staying, itís a completely relaxing experience.
Take some traps and head across the bay to the far shore for a day of crabbing. Set up a volleyball net and bring your own team for a rousing game while the traps catch their fill. Bring a big pot of water to boil and add fresh vegetables for a feast around the fire in the afternoon light.
For the hearty diver, there are numerous places designated for diving. Take a buddy, check the strictly enforces size limits, catch and regulations, then have the most delicious dinner in the world (Scuba gear not permitted)!
Thereís a shortage of places to relax in a spa or Jacuzzi overlooking the bay or the Pacific Ocean. Or slip into our unique enzyme baths in Freestone. Itís just another way to make sure you go home feeling fully refreshed.
Grab a deli sandwich and some drinks or prepare a romantic champagne picnic and set your blankets among the sand dunes protected from the wind. You can watch surf from above and feel the warmth of the sun on your body while the sounds of the crashing waves soothe your soul. You may even want to take a nap!
Thereís hardly a day when you donít see fluorescent colored sails skimming across the waters of Bodega Bay. Wide open spaced protected from boat traffic offer the perfect place to practice your skills and meet the challenges of shifting winds and tides throughout the day.
Got a yen for espresso or a foamy cup of cappuccino or latte? Pick your coffee shop from the tiny and quaint to those boasting coastal views. Yes, thereís even a local roaster supplying fresh roasted beans you can savor on the spot, take home or to your camp site for a fresh cup first thing in the morning.