Sonoma County’s thriving regional park system consists of more than 50 parks — including trails and open spaces — and encompasses nearly 60,000 acres. Parks run the length and breadth of the county, from Gualala to Bodega Bay, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Sonoma Valley. And it’s all there to be enjoyed by you.
What’s your outdoor passion? If it’s hiking, mountain biking, or bird watching, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in the county’s regional parks. Same with swimming, fishing, paddling, boating, camping, picnicking in a beautiful spot, or snapping photos of sweeping vistas from the top of a mountain.
Maybe your greatest wish about the outdoors is to instill a love of it in your kids, while also ensuring that they gain practical, eco-helpful knowledge about Mother Nature. Located within Spring Lake Regional Park, the Environmental Discovery Center — an earth science center with hands-on exhibits for children and their families — is perfect for you.
Or maybe you’re thinking about how much fun it would be to hold an overnight family reunion in a campground. If so, reserve a group site at Doran Regional Park on the coast in Bodega Bay.
If you just can’t get enough of the Pacific Ocean, many ocean-facing regional parks await your visit. They include — but certainly are not limited to — Gualala Point Regional Park, the Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail, Shell Beach Sea Ranch Access Trail, and Stillwater Cove Regional Park.
And if you have a boat big enough to sleep on, why not take a mini-vacation by docking at the Regional Parks’ Spud Point Marina? Located in Bodega Bay, it’s the center of commercial and sport fishing in the county and welcomes overnight visitors on its guest dock.
Another great thing about Sonoma County Regional Parks is the large number of activities it supports. For example, each spring various parks host free guided wildflower walks. In summer, Regional Parks co-sponsors the YMCA fitness program and the Healdsburg Water Carnival. Throughout the year you’ll find sunset walks, nature talks, birding excursions, family-friendly adventures and a lot more. Check the calendar to see what’s happening at any given time.
Among the 50-plus regional parks, typically the most-visited are Doran Regional Park (Bodega Bay), Spring Lake Regional Park (Santa Rosa), Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach (Healdsburg), Ragle Ranch Regional Park (Sebastopol), and Riverfront Regional Park (near Windsor).
But there are so many others just as jam-packed with beautiful scenery and things to do. The parks department maintains an A-Z list of all the parks. Click on any link to see everything an individual park has to offer.
By the way, entry to most parks and events is free. However, a $7 parking fee applies in most parks — a fee that’s waived for parks members. You can join for $69 per year ($49 for seniors, and $29 for those with permanent disabilities). Check the regional parks website to see all the benefits of membership and how to join.
For even more options, check our list of state parks in Sonoma County.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez