BODEGA BAY (KRON) — Think of the perfect weekend getaway: easy-to-reach, scenic, a place where everyday stresses just melt away. Relax, take a deep breath, welcome to Bodega Bay.
An easy and beautiful drive from San Francisco, Bodega Bay offers an amazing place to sit back and unwind. As you pass farms and stunning bands of wild flowers, you can feel the layers of city tension disappear.
MORE: Wine Country Getaways
Even better, the area combines abundant activities with an incredibly soothing environment. There’s hiking, fishing, whale watching, horseback riding, surfing (for the experienced), great seafood, the list goes on. Do everything, or do nothing, it’s your choice.
What better way to enjoy the area’s rugged coastline than by hiking along it. There are a variety of excellent trails to choose from, ranging from easy to moderate. Pack a picnic lunch, bring your rod and tackle or perhaps a nice set of binoculars. Bodega Bay is known for its excellent bird watching.
“My daughter and I rode our bikes from Bay Flat Road through the Bodega Dunes camp grounds all the way to the beach. It was an adventure, refreshing and beautiful,” said Brandi Baskett of Bodega Bay.
While you’re out hiking, why not take a walk on the beach. Go to Pinnacle Beach for the dramatic rock formations. Doran Regional Park has a 2-mile stretch of sandy beach and is a popular place for visitors to picnic, build sand castles, fly kites, surf, fish and stroll.
“There are two big beaches – Doran Park and Salmon Creek. The surfers prefer Salmon Creek. Doran is a little easier to access. Additionally, there are lots of little beaches north of Bodega Bay along Hwy 1. They each have their own personality and cult following. My favorite is Schoolhouse beach where the sand is actually little, tiny ocean smoothed rocks – so cool,” said Sissy Blanchard President at Bodega Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.
It would be a shame to be so close to the ocean without actually spending time on the water. Bodega Bay offers many boating opportunities. A kayak rental can get you up close and personal with seals and other ocean life. Or perhaps sailing is more your realm. Naturally, there are a number of ways to charter a boat for a nice day of fishing.
“Going out on a fishing boat was a fun first experience if you don’t get seasick. You should be prepared if you don’t know,” said Teri Packard of Roseville. “One of my favorite times on the coast is taking surfing lessons from Bodega Bay Surf Shack. It made me a lot less afraid of the ocean,” said Vanessa Medina of Santa Rosa.
Of course, many come for the pleasures of whale watching.
“So many great experiences at Bodega! My favorite would be watching a pod of killer whales playing off the head! Nothing like the smell of fresh ocean air to soothe and relax,” said Rick Murphy of Sebastopol.
Have a Wonderful Stay
There are lots of places to stay, both practical and luxurious. I recommend The Bodega Bay Lodge for great resort amenities: like a top-rated restaurant, a casual fireside bar, highly personalized spa services and complimentary evening wine reception. Oh, and did I mention how friendly the staff is? Loved my visit and would highly recommend.
“We were blown away by the amazing service, the infinity hot tub and of course the views. Very impressed and will be coming back again,” said Miki Carlton of San Mateo.
From its seaside perch situated on seven acres of gracefully landscaped grounds, the Lodge offers warm, cozy rooms with private balconies, and real wood-burning fireplaces. The Bodega Bay Lodge is an ideal location to kick off your Bodega Bay adventure, great for either work or pleasure.
If you’re looking to rent a home during your stay, there’s a wide variety of coastal vacation rentals at your disposal, from rustic to elegant. Take your pick. They’re great for families and you have everything you need to cook a nice dinner or just grilled cheese sandwiches.
Check out more places to stay by visiting the Chamber’s website here.
Enjoy Great Seafood
Naturally, there are an abundance of excellent dining opportunities in Bodega Bay and one of my favorites is the Fishetarian Seafood Deli and Market. Owned by avid sports fisherman Shane Lucas, the market and restaurant has been a Bodega Bay fixture for nearly 40 years.
Fishetarian is known for its fish and chips but don’t leave without sampling the clam chowder. “They serve the best clam chowder hands down. Perfect blend of spices, cream, fresh clam and chunks of potato with a hint of cilantro,” said Stephanie Carlson Sharp of Santa Rosa. There are also fish tacos, fresh oysters, and organic tiger prawn spring rolls.
Lucas is a big believer in sustainability, both in fishing and farming, and boasts organic meals and compostable greenware. “All of our fresh fish is LOCAL. We are casual, and very kid friendly,” said Fishetarian owner Shane Lucas. “We love offering visitors and locals a great selection of fresh and prepared seafood and all the traditional seafood dishes with a healthy “fishetarian” twist. Using organic produce, and offering vegetarian / gluten-free, local options whenever possible.”
And don’t forget the fish market. Perhaps you want to take home a nice fillet of local king salmon to grill at your campground or ocean bungalow.
I also recommend the Duck Club Restaurant at Bodega Bay Lodge. Enjoy traditional favorites, like Oyster Rockefeller or Seafood Stew. If you’re feeling especially carnivorous, try the pan seared duck breast or lamb. The Duck Club restaurant also has a great menu for breakfast. Try their Bodega Bellini- Sparkling Wine & Massenez Crème de Pêche with their delicious French Toast- Seasoned Buttermilk Batter with a Crunchy Cornflake Crust and Vermont Maple Syrup. Yum! They also serve a gluten free version.
For those who’d like a more casual meal, eat at Drake’s Fireside Lounge, also at the Bodega Bay Lodge. Sit back and enjoy a glass of wine, local artisan cheeses and the ambience by the outdoor fire pit.
How about Terrapin Creek Café, which prides itself on locally sourced ingredients. Feast on oysters, halibut, scallops or tuck into a nice ribeye. “This is an unassuming place tucked away in Bodega Bay. Really special dishes and an interesting wine list with a lot of local offerings,” said McKenna Rowe of Los Angeles.
For a sweet snack, stop by Second Wind Kite and Taffy shop. Pick out your favorite flavored taffy- From Neopolitian, Pink Lemonade, Blueberry, Pomegranate, Peanut Butter to Oreo Cookie-you won’t run out of choices.
“Our taffy comes in fresh each week from a small family company on the coast of Oregon,” said Second Wind owner Elaine Leitner. “They make taffy the old fashioned way, and we order different flavors each week along with our tried-and-true favorites. So there’s always something new and exciting in our Candy Beach!”
But don’t forget, this is wine country, and your trip wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the local offerings. Gourmet au Bay has an excellent selection and a fantastic bayside deck to really relax. Partake in a little wine surfing – a traditional flight with a more coastal twist.
For other highly reviewed places to eat in the area visit:
• Spud Point Crab Company
• Fisherman’s Cove
• The Dog House
• The Bird’s Café
“There is a lot in this tiny place that will peek the interest in the young and old. It’s affordable, and fun for the whole family,” said Baskett
“I’ve been going since I was 4 years old. I love it because it still has a “wild beach coastline” feel. It smells wonderful and clean. You can see seals and sea lions waiting for the commercial fisherman to toss them their scraps at the piers,” said Herlinda Heras of Rohnert Park.
Bottom line: it’s hard to beat Bodega Bay for its unique combination of relaxation and activity. Take advantage of the hiking, fishing, fine food, and wine. Or take a nice side excursion to a Sonoma winery. Physically, it’s only a short drive away, but emotionally it’s a world apart.
Jennifer Boden is a KRON 4 contributor and editor of California Wine and Travel. Jennifer, a former news anchor, lives and plays in Northern California’s Wine Country. Find Jennifer online at https://www.facebook.com/californiawineandtravel