48 Hours in Jenner on the California Coast
Slow down, relax, and immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of Jenner, nestled on the Sonoma County coastline.
Located where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean, Jenner (pop. 136) is a place where the pace is up to you. Challenge yourself with a rugged hillside hike with stunning views, paddle a kayak on the river, stroll leisurely on a beautiful beach, sit on the sand and watch a colony of sea lions, or snuggle into a comfy chair while sipping Sonoma County wine and enjoying Pacific Ocean vistas.
Whatever you choose to do and wherever you go in this rustic coastal community, the people will be friendly and the scenery will be absolutely amazing. Here's a two-day itinerary with a few suggestions for how to spend your time in Jenner.
Brunch at Café Aquatica
Start your day at Café Aquatica, a charming roadside retreat for a casual, organic meal, and a hot cup of coffee. Enjoy breakfast pastries, savory breakfast burritos, or bagels with cream cheese and lox. The café deck overlooks a beautiful estuary, offering views of local flora and fauna
Kayaking With WaterTreks EcoTours
Nature and outdoor enthusiasts can live out their vacay dreams via a kayaking tour with WaterTreks EcoTours, owned by Suki Waters, a local Native American guide and kayak instructor. Visitors can explore quiet estuaries or the Pacific Ocean while learning about local wildlife, Sonoma County history, and more.
If you're seeking some fun out of the water, take a short drive south on Highway 1 to Goat Rock Beach, which offers views of immense sea stacks (tall, rocky columns that rise out of the ocean), white-capped waves, sand dunes, and the massive, flat-topped rock that gives the beach its name. The spot is popular for birdwatching and hiking, and features several trails, including Kortum Trail, a 4.6-mile loop that connects Blind Beach, Shell Beach, and Wright's Beach. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, the 6.2-mile Pomo Canyon Trail follows the historical trading route of the Pomo and Miwok peoples and leads hikers into a redwood forest with a waterfall.
Wine Tasting in Downtown Jenner
Before dinner, browse for locally crafted souvenirs at Jenner Sea Gifts and Wines, a small shop offering jewelry, clothing, chimes, seashells, and local wines. Then, visit Tasting by the Sea, a wine bar in the back of the gift shop. Here you can enjoy a wine tasting, or order wines by the glass or bottle, while enjoying gorgeous views of the Russian River. Evenings are particularly lovely on the bar's large outdoor deck, which includes a cozy fire pit.
Dinner at River's End Restaurant
Perched on a bluff just up the hill from the Jenner Visitors Center, overlooking both the Russian River and Pacific Ocean, the cozy River's End Restaurant serves delicious dinners and fine wine set to the backdrop of spectacular sunsets. Chef Martin Recoder offers unique and eclectic seasonal menus that showcase local Sonoma County meat and produce, like Dungeness crabs.
Breakfast at Coast Kitchen
Timber Cove Resort’s Coast Kitchen restaurant offers organic, seasonal Wine Country coastal cuisine with clean, crisp presentations, served amid stunning ocean views for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
After breakfast, it’s time to hit the road. The stretch of coastal Highway 1 just north of Jenner is not about getting there. The goal is to really be there—to pause and savor each moment. Take it slow, and use the turnouts as stops where you can stretch and enjoy the views; each has its own unique delights.
Explore Fort Ross State Historic Park
At the first stop on Highway 1, dive into history at Fort Ross State Historic Park, which from 1812 to 1841 was the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements along the West Coast. Faithfully reconstructed buildings recall the once-thriving colony, including the stockade, a Russian chapel, a barracks, two blockhouses, and a windmill. Visitors can explore the park at their own pace, with helpful staff available to assist with any questions or other needs.
Wine Tasting & Small Bites Pairing at Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery
After a morning of fort adventures, it's time to sip some wine and enjoy stellar views at Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery. Known for their zesty Pinot Noirs and crisp Chardonnays, this vineyard is closer to the Pacific Ocean than any other vineyard in California. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays through Tuesdays, Fort Ross offers Wine Tasting & Small Bites Pairings. Their in-house chef sources all of the products locally, providing guests with a true farm-to-table experience.
Outdoor Adventures at Salt Point State Park
Just a few miles north of Fort Ross Vineyard, the beautiful 6,000-acre Salt Point State Park stretches along the Pacific Ocean coastline, with more than 20 miles of hiking trails, two campgrounds, an underwater park, and a host of recreational activities, including hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and scuba diving. The park features rocky spires, panoramic views, kelp-dotted coves, open grasslands, forested hills, open prairies, a pygmy forest, and a lively visitors center with many activities. Don’t miss the Tafoni sandstone—stone that’s riddled by honeycomb-type erosion that produces ribs, ridges, holes, and other patterns. Download a Salt Point State Park brochure.
Sunset and Dinner at Jenner Inn
From fettuccine Alfredo to fish and chips, fresh salmon, and indulgent cheeseburgers, the restaurant at the Jenner Inn has something for everyone. Plan to book a dinner reservation during dusk to experience sensational views of the sun sinking into the Pacific Ocean, which are best enjoyed with a local Sonoma County beer or glass of wine.
Where to Stay in Jenner
From the rustic and romantic cabins at River’s End Restaurant & Inn and the historical Jenner Inn) which was constructed entirely from redwood in the last 1940s by Swedish boat-builders) to the one-of-a-kind Timber Cove Resort (featuring unparalleled ocean views, 46 unique guest rooms and various acclaimed sculptures) there are a number of options for staying in and around Jenner. Explore hotels and lodging in Jenner.
How to Get to Jenner
There are several ways to reach Jenner from Highway 101—the multi-lane freeway running north-south in central Sonoma County—and all of them are scenic. From Petaluma, head west out of town on East Washington Street as it turns into Bodega Avenue; go right on Valley Ford, then right again on winding Highway 1, following it north for 10 or so beautiful miles to Jenner.
From Cotati, follow Highway 116 west through the farming communities of Sebastopol, Graton, and Forestville, and on through the river towns of Guerneville, Monte Rio, and Duncans Mills, until you hit Highway 1 where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. You can also take the River Road exit off Highway 101 in northern Santa Rosa, following the meandering Russian River first on River Road and then on Highway 116 to Highway 1, and Jenner.
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