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 tours are available. Rentals include all equipment, wetsuit, life vest, and instruction before heading out.
Jump in the Saddle
There are two options for horseback riding around Bodega Bay, Chanslor Stables and Horse N Around Trail Rides.
Chanslor Stables, a working western horse ranch, offers guided horseback trail rides with breathtaking ocean views. Follow miles of trails that take you to lofty mountaintops, grassy meadows, coastal dunes, or along the beach. Private rides are available, including a private picnic ride. Chanslor Stables: 707-589-5040.
Horse N Around Trail Rides is open year round, and offers a variety of trails or a chance to go riding on the beach. Choose from a 60-minute sand dunes ride that provides panoramic views of the Bodega Bay harbor and Sonoma Coastline; a 90 minute beach ride that includes the dunes and harbor views, plus riding along a long stretch of beach; and trail rides on the Hagemann Ranch Trout Farm, an incredible family-owned ranch with gorgeous views of the rolling coastal hills.
For more horse-related options, read "Sonoma County on Horseback."
Visit 'The Birds'
Famed movie director Alfred Hitchcock filmed one of his most famous movies, “The Birds,” in both Bodega Bay and the nearby tiny village of Bodega, located just four miles inland. It’s worth the short trip.
Stroll around this one-block town and you’ll spot some of the buildings used in the movie, including the famous Potter schoolhouse and the St. Teresa of Avila Church.
These two buildings were also featured in the opening credits of the 1968 musical Finians Rainbow starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark.
Snap as many pictures as you like in front of both of these buildings, but please be respectful of the fact that the Potter schoolhouse is now a private residence.
Back in Bodega Bay, the peninsula known as the Bodega Head is another famous “Birds” filming location, offering incredible scenic blufftop views. You can also celebrate Hitchcock with a bird-watching expedition at Doran Beach Regional Park, Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail, or Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail.
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.