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Sunset views from Jenner-by-the-Sea

Sunset on the Sonoma Coast.

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Perched on a bluff high above the mouth of the Russian River, the tiny coastal village of Jenner boasts some of the most jaw-dropping views on the California West Coast. 

The panorama encompasses the river estuary, dozens of harbor seals on a sand spit at the river’s mouth, mile after mile of coastal prairie, offshore sea stacks (large rock pillars), coves, beaches, and sheer-sided cliffs. Not to mention the ocean fading into the western horizon and the contest-worthy setting and rising of the sun. 

A stay in Jenner provides extra-special treats. For example, watching the sun set while relaxing over dinner. Or meandering along the river’s mouth to watch dawn color the world. Or having Goat Rock Beach (See photo; Highway 1 and Goat Rock Road, Jenner, 707-875-3483; no dogs allowed on beach; entry fee  $8 per vehicle, $7 seniors) all to yourselves in the early morning hours. 

The former Jenner Boathouse houses the Sonoma Coast Visitors Center (10439 Highway 1, Jenner, 707-865-9757; open Thursday to Monday in spring, summer and fall; and Saturday and Sunday in winter)The center offers interesting interpretive displays that illustrate local history, flora and fauna, as well as a nature store with an excellent assortment of educational sales items. You’ll also find helpful maps, money-saving coupons, informative brochures about sights and activities on Sonoma’s coast, lodging and restaurant information, and knowledgeable volunteer docents happy to answer questions. 

Although Jenner is tiny – 136 residents at the last census – accommodations and dining get high marks.

Jenner Inn (10400 Coast Highway 1, Jenner, 707-865-2377) offers a range of beautifully-designed rooms and suites, as well as two vacation homes (some rooms are dog-friendly). 

River's End Restaurant & Inn (10048 Coast Highway 1, Jenner, 707-865-2484), which sits atop a bluff overlooking the river and ocean, includes a superb restaurant plus six view cabins “designed for couples looking to rejuvenate.” 

Whether you want to watch sunrise or sunset, prefer ocean or river views, choose to wander the sandy beach or hike along the towering bluff top, or just want to watch harbor seals and other wildlife, Jenner is the place.