Nestled into a particularly beautiful stretch of Sonoma County’s 55-mile coast, Bodega Bay is a favorite destination for Bay Area residents as well as travelers.
This long-time home to a fishing boat fleet is a small, friendly town with a few shops and art galleries and excellent seafood restaurants.
Bodega Bay is jammed with hiking and biking trails that offer magnificent Pacific Ocean views, and nearby beaches are great places to picnic, gaze seaward, or go fly a kite (in fact, Bodega Bay has two kite shops: Second Wind and Candy & Kites).
Here are five ideas to make your time in Bodega Bay fun and memorable:
Go Whale Watching
One of the West Coast’s premier whale-watching spots is the Bodega Head peninsula. About four miles long and one mile wide, it shelters shallow Bodega Bay from Pacific Ocean storms.
Bodega Head juts into the ocean, which puts you a bit closer to cetaceans cruising by. You can spot whales off the coast all year long, but chances are best during the primary migrations (October through February, when gray whales are southbound from Alaska to Mexico, and February through April, when they reverse course).
On weekends from January through Mother’s Day, volunteers from the Whale Watch Public Education Program are at Bodega Head to answer questions and share their knowledge of whales and migration. For more info, read “Whale Watching Along the Sonoma Coast” or check our listings of Whale Watching options, including charter boats.
Paddle Around the Bay
Explore the beauty of Bodega Bay, catching sight of cruising seals and flocks of seabirds while paddling around on a stand-up paddle board or in a kayak (on your own or with a customized guided tour). Visit Bodega Bay Kayak to get started paddling through Bodega Bay, the lower Russian River, the Estero Americano, or Salmon Creek. Beginner kayakers are welcomed and encouraged. Customized guided tour are available. Rentals include all equipment, wetsuit, life vest, and instruction before heading out.
Jump in the Saddle
Choose from a variety of ocean-view trails or go riding on the beach with Horse N Around Trail Rides. Open year round, the company has access to eight miles of private trails, including some running through wildlife preserves. Or take a ride along the beach, but be sure to plan ahead as there is limited availability for this popular option and advance reservations are highly recommended. Group rides (you may be joined by other people) are walking only; private rides may provide the opportunity to trot or canter if all riders are safe and secure in the saddle.
Horse N Around Trail Rides is based at Chanslor Guest Ranch, Stables & Preserve, which offers vacation rentals and rooms, as well as campsites with picnic tables and fire pits. Bring your tent, RV, or trailer, or rent one of Chanslor's canvas platform tents. Horse N Around and Chanslor offer camp-and-ride or stay-and-ride package deals.
For more horse-related options, read "Sonoma County on Horseback."
Pose with Alfred Hitchcock
Or at least a lifelike sculpture of the infamous director. You’ll find it, and a mega-amount of Hitchcock memorabilia, in the nearby tiny village of Bodega. That’s where Hitchcock filmed one of his most famous movies — that 1963 classic, “The Birds.”
Stroll around the one-block town and you’ll spot some of the very buildings used in the movie, including the famous Potter Schoolhouse. Drop in the Bodega Country Store (you’ll know you’re there when you see Hitch standing outside, looking lifelike), and get blown away by the amazing collection of Hitchcockanalia on the walls or hanging from the ceiling.
Dine on Just-Caught Seafood
Bodega Bay isn’t just a picturesque fishing port, it’s also a sensational place to indulge in seafood — crab, salmon, rockfish and more — taken right off a local boat.
Hunker down at one of the picnic tables in front of Spud Point Crab Company and bite into a fresh crab sandwich while gazing at fishing boats docked nearby. Grab a casual dinner at The Tides Wharf Restaurant & Bar, where scenes from “The Birds” were filmed. Go all out with a meal at Terrapin Creek Café, self-described as a "casual neighborhood spot" and the recipient of a Michelin star.
Check our listings to discover all the excellent restaurants in Bodega Bay.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodgriguez.