Shadows and Screams: Start your morning back in Railroad Square, which, by the light of day, may start to look familiar.
It was here that Alfred Hitchcock shot scenes for Shadow of a Doubt, a 1943 suspense ride about an uncle with a terrible secret and the niece who finds him out. In the movie, a locomotive— bringing with it an ominous cloud of black smoke — pulls into a train station at 9 Fourth St. The station building is still standing, and today it's a visitors’ information center.
For a bite and a cup with your view of Railroad Square, try A’roma Roasters or Flying Goat Coffee. Or, for a heartier breakfast, head to Omelet Express, then walk it off with a quick stroll through Whistlestop Antiques.
Take the car back up Fourth Street to make a left on Morgan Street, a right on College Avenue, and then a left on Mendocino Avenue. You can’t miss Santa Rosa High School as it comes up on your left. The elegant brick school lent a gothic feel to scenes in Peggy Sue Got Married and Inventing the Abbotts, and can now boast such fictional alumni as Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Liv Tyler, and Jennifer Connelly.
Make a quick right onto Pacific Avenue and follow it down to McDonald Avenue, arguably the city’s most beautiful — and famous — residential street. A stroll up and down McDonald will take you past gorgeous old homes used in Shadow of a Doubt and Scream.
Make sure you stop and peek through the gates at the McDonald Mansion, an 1870s estate that’s still the grande dame of the neighborhood. Walt Disney used some Hollywood magic to add a false third story onto this historic home in 1960, transforming the mansion into the house where Hayley Mills goes to live with Jane Wyman in Pollyanna.
Coastal Thrills: Next, you’re headed for the Sonoma coast. Drive south on Highway 101 for just a few minutes before taking the Highway 12 exit towards Sebastopol. Drive through Sebastopol, continuing on Bodega Avenue as it becomes Bodega Highway, and wind your way past vineyards, barns, and apple orchards.
About 10 miles down the road, you’ll reach the tiny town of Bodega. This was the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which still gives viewers a temporary case of ornithophobia 50 years after its release.
Park your car in front of the Bodega Country Store. Just across the road up Bodega Lane, you’ll see the St. Teresa of Avila Church (made famous by a 1953 Ansel Adams photograph and later glimpsed briefly on film during The Birds) and the old Potter School House (the setting for much on-screen running, screaming, and pecking during The Birds).
The two buildings also prettied up the opening credits of Fred Astaire and Petula Clark’s 1968 musical Finian’s Rainbow. (Feel free to snap as many pictures as you’d like in front of both buildings, but do note that the Potter School House is now a private residence).
Back down the road, don’t drive off without a visit to the Bodega Country Store. You’ll recognize it by the life-sized likeness of Alfred Hitchcock out front. This little store is stocked with Birds-themed souvenirs and Hitchcock memorabilia, and also has a big selection of organic groceries and take-out items. It’s the perfect stop off if you’re feeling — ahem — peckish after all that sightseeing. Two doors down from the store, a tiny museum shows off some seriously rare Hitchcock and Birds artifacts.
For lunch, pack up some soups, fresh-baked focaccia, and lobster mac ’n cheese from the Bodega Country Store, or grab a seat at the Casino Bar & Grill just across the street. The locally sourced, ever-changing menu at this roadhouse-style bar may surprise you, but its history shouldn’t: this was the watering hole of choice for Hitchcock’s crew during The Birds’ filming in Bodega.
Walk of Fame: Travel out to Bodega Head, another famous Birds filming location. From Bodega, take Highway 12 to CA-1 and travel through the town of Bodega Bay (more on this location later). Turn left on Eastshore Road, a quick right onto Bay Flat Road and continue on Westshore Road until the road dead-ends at a cliff-top parking lot.
Bodega Head is another famous Birds filming location. This area is just as beautiful in our day as it was in Tippi Hedren’s, so get out of the car and take it all in with a walk on one of the headland trails. If you’ve brought along lunch from the Bodega Country Store, a cluster of picnic tables makes this the perfect stop for a quick break.
Stomp the sand off your shoes and hop back in the car to drive further north up CA-1 — and deeper into horror territory. About six miles up the coastal road, Schoolhouse Beach welcomed Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. during a scene in 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. But don’t be scared: Any local will tell you this spot’s really more famous for tide pooling than for terror.
Another five miles up CA-1, take the pull-off for Goat Rock Beach. Look familiar? Try thinking back to a time before Josh Brolin was the 43rd president of the U.S. and Sean Astin was a hobbit. Steven Spielberg shot part of his 1985 cult classic The Goonies, about a band of kids searching for hidden treasure, right here.
To enjoy the same scenery Spielberg did, go for a bluff-top hike or a leisurely walk along the beach, or visit (from a respectful distance) with the colony of seals that calls this beach home.
Seafood and Bay Views: Retrace your tracks and then make a right onto CA-1. About eight miles down the road you’ll be back in the town of Bodega Bay. Dinner options abound along Bay Highway, starting with burgers, hotdogs, and shakes at The Dog House.
The site of the Tides Wharf Restaurant and Bar was used for scenes in The Birds, and though the original building burned down years ago, it’s since been rebuilt and now serves upscale casual seafood with bay views. Thursday through Sunday, the Terrapin Creek Café on Eastshore Road offers a locally sourced dinner menu in a casual —yet Michelin-starred — neighborhood atmosphere.
That’s a Wrap:
Stick around town for the night and enjoy panoramic water views from a room at the Inn at the Tides or the Bodega Bay Lodge. Or, make your way north on the CA-1 to Jenner, a tiny but charming town with plenty of lodging options including the Timber Cove Inn and the Jenner Inn & Cottages. The River’s End Restaurant & Inn, where sunsets are a downright cinematic viewing experience, is a local favorite. Further up CA-1, near the northern border of Sonoma County, it doesn’t get much more peaceful than a stay at the modern-rustic Sea Ranch Lodge.
Find these Sonoma County cities on the map. And check out this clickable movie map from the County of Sonoma.
Written by Sonoma Insider Jessica Quandt