6 Fun Things to Do in Bodega Bay

Doran Regional Park

This long-time home to a fishing boat fleet is a small, friendly town with quirky oceanside shops, art galleries, and excellent seafood restaurants.

Nestled into a particularly beautiful stretch of Sonoma County’s 55-mile Pacific coastline, Bodega Bay is a favorite getaway for travelers and locals alike. Brimming with hiking and biking trails that offer magnificent Pacific Ocean views, picnic-perfect beaches, and amazing sights of the Pacific Ocean waves, the coastal town is the ideal spot for a rejuvenating retreat.

Explore just a handful of things to do in Bodega Bay. 

1. Go Whale Watching

whale watching in Bodega Bay in Sonoma County

One of the West Coast’s premier whale-watching spots is the Bodega Head peninsula. About 4 miles long and 1 mile wide, it shelters shallow Bodega Bay from Pacific Ocean storms.

Bodega Head juts into the ocean, offering prime real estate for spotting whales breaching and spraying. You can marvel at the awe-inspiring creatures off the coast all year long, but chances are best during their primary migrations (October through February, when gray whales head south from Alaska to Mexico, and February through April, when they reverse course).

On weekends from January through May, volunteers from the Whale Watch Public Education Program are at Bodega Head to help visitors catch a glimpse of the whales, as well as to share their knowledge and answer questions. And if you’re feeling adventurous, Ace It Bike Tours offers a guided Bodega Bay Bike & Hike Tour that lets you explore Bodega Head on foot and on two wheels, learning about local wildlife and history as you go. (You’ll also stop to treat yourself some of the county’s best clam chowder.)

Learn more about whale watching along the Sonoma Coast or find other ways to see whales up close, including charter boats.

2. Paddle Around the Bay

People kayak near the jetty in Bodega Bay
Doran Regional Park

Explore the beauty of Bodega Bay the best way possible … by venturing into its waters to paddle past cruising seals and flocks of bobbing seabirds via stand-up paddleboard or kayak. 

Visit Bodega Bay Kayak to get started with your paddling adventure through the bay, the lower Russian River, the Estero Americano, or Salmon Creek. All levels of paddlers—from beginner to expert—are welcomed and encouraged, and customized guided tours are available. Rentals include all equipment, wetsuit, life vest, and instruction before heading out. 

3. Jump in the Saddle

Chanslor Stables horseback riding in Bodega Bay
Chanslor Stables

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. Tours run from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours and venture through miles of trails that explore many of Sonoma County’s varied ecosystems. Ride along sandy beaches while foaming waves crash along the shoreline, trot through meadows dotted with wildflowers and tall grasses, marvel as you traverse canyons or take in the stunning landscapes from the hilltops. Private rides are available.

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 where you can take in panoramic views of the Bodega Bay harbor and Sonoma County coastline, or a 90-minute beach ride that includes the dunes and feeling the sea spray as you canter along a lengthy stretch of beach. You can also opt to take a trail ride on the Hagemann Ranch Trout Farm, a family-owned ranch that offers gorgeous vistas of the rolling coastal hills.

Lear more about exploring Sonoma County on horseback.

4. Visit the Filming Location of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”

The Potter schoolhouse from 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 4 miles inland.

Stroll around the 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 “Finian’s Rainbow” starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. Snap plenty of pictures of both 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 filming location from “The Birds,” offering incredible scenic bluff-top views. You can also celebrate Hitchcock’s classic film with a bird-watching expedition at Doran Regional Park, Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail, or Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail.

5. Savor Fresh, Local Seafood at Restaurants in Bodega Bay

man cooking crab in Bodega Bay in Sonoma County
Spud Point Crab Company

Bodega Bay isn’t just a picturesque fishing port, it’s also a sensational place to indulge in seafood fresh off a local boat—whether you’re craving crab, salmon, rockfish, or other ocean delights.

Stretch out at one of the picnic tables in front of Spud Point Crab Company and relish a fresh crab sandwich while watching nearby fishing boats gently rise and fall with the water. Unwind with a casual meal at The Tides Wharf Restaurant, where scenes from “The Birds” were filmed. Though casual when it comes to vibes, Terrapin Creek CafĂ© has earned national acclaim for its seasonal menus using the finest, freshest ingredients in inventive upscale pairings. Past dishes have included pan-roasted scallops in carrot-ginger puree or charred octopus with smoked-pepper aioli.

Explore even more restaurants in Bodega Bay. 

The Inn as seen from above along the bat
Inn at the Tides

6. Relax While Camping in Bodega Bay

Wake up to bay views or fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing in the distance. Known for a peaceful and quiet atmosphere, Bodega Dunes Campground is nothing short of magical. Shaded by gnarled cypress trees, the campsites make you feel like you’re in a forest even though you’re a short walk from the ocean.

Doran Beach Campground gives you the best of both shorelines—bay and ocean. Find your campsite and unwind as the salty breeze blows in across the water. This location is perfect for flying kites or taking leisurely walks, where you’ll gasp when you take in the dramatic views of the cliffs along the coast.

And those are just two of your options! No matter which location you choose, camping in Bodega Bay offers ample ways to disconnect from life’s hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature and yourself. Learn more about camping in Bodega Bay.

Want to keep planning your trip to Sonoma County? Explore our Bodega Bay trip ideas. 

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodgriguez.

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