Sonoma Coast: A Traveler’s Guide

  • Guides
  • by WC STAFF
  • on NOVEMBER 4, 2015
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One of the best things about visiting Northern California Wine Country is that you have so many choices when it comes to making the most of those vacation days. The wines available in Sonoma County have something to offer every palate, but more often than not, what pushes folks toward Sonoma County is its stunning coastline. If you’re a beach lover, simple geography makes the Sonoma Coast a winner. But leave your bathing suit at home, Sonoma County beaches aren’t meant for swimming. They’re best for strolling, soaking up views, and maybe enjoying a bottle of wine.

Where to Stay

Image Source: Bodega Bay Lodge & Yelp

Bodega Bay Lodge
103 Coast Highway 1
Bodega Bay, CA 94923
(866) 735-3662
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 866 reviews
Check Availability

Locally owned, Bodega Bay Lodge is just a short walk to Doran Beach Regional Park. All rooms have private balconies and most have views and fireplaces. Spa services, a heated pool, and whirlpool spa add to the perks. Insider tip: Take advantage of the complimentary Peet’s coffee and tea offered in the lobby all day, and don’t miss the complimentary evening wine reception.

Image Source: TripAdvisor

Fort Ross Lodge
20705 Coast Highway 1
Jenner, CA 95450
(707) 847-3333
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 193 reviews
Check Availability

If you want to get away from it all, Fort Ross Lodge is for you. Located between Fort Ross Russian Settlement and Salt Point State Park, all rooms have a private patio, small refrigerator, microwave and barbecue. Most units have wood fireplaces. Insider tip: Cell service is spotty at best, so enjoy the time being disconnected.

Image Source: Sea Ranch Lodge

Sea Ranch Lodge
60 Sea Walk Drive
The Sea Ranch, CA 95497
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 415 reviews
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All rooms at the Sea Ranch Lodge are oceanfront with windows that actually open so you can take in the sea breeze. Most rooms also have gas-burning Malm fireplaces. Pampered pooches are welcomed at Sea Ranch Lodge with a doggie bed, bowl, treats, and more. Insider tip: There are no televisions in the rooms, but 50 miles of hiking trails in the area should keep you busy.

Where to Eat

Image Source: Yelp

Spud Point Crab Company
1860 Westshore Road
Bodega Bay, CA 94923
(707) 875-9472
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 399 reviews
Reservations: Not required

Owned by a retired firefighter and his wife, the Spud Point Crab Company isn’t fancy, but it is delicious. Order inside, then find a seat at one of the picnic tables out front. If you time it right, you can watch the crab cooking on the patio. The BBQ Tri Tip sandwich makes non-seafood lovers fans of Spud Point too. Insider tip: If lines are long, you might just want to place an order for an extra clam chowder to-go. You’ll want more later. It’s that good.

Image Source: Yelp

Bones Roadhouse
39080 South Highway 1
Gualala, CA 95445
(707) 884-1188
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 271 reviews
Reservations: Not required

Bones Roadhouse is the place for good BBQ with a view. Dress is casual, and it is a good thing, because food here can get messy. Most sandwiches are big enough to share. Insider tip: Desserts are housemade, so try to save room the likes of Coconut Banana Cream Pie and New Orleans Bread Pudding.

Image Source: Yelp

Pelican Plaza Grocery & Deli
1400 Coast Highway 1
Bodega Bay, CA 94923
(707) 875-2522
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 34 reviews
Reservations: Not required

If you need it, they have it at Pelican Plaza Grocery & Deli. It is the perfect spot to put together a gourmet picnic on the go. Insider tip: Pelican Plaza Grocery & Deli has a nice selection of local cheeses to pair with any new found favorite wines. That said, if you are feeling wined out, they also have a large selection of beer.

Where to Taste

Image Source: Yelp

Annapolis Winery
26055 Soda Springs Road
Annapolis, CA 95412
(707) 886-5460
Reservations: Not required

Family owned and operated, Annapolis Winery is off the beaten track, but worth the extra time behind the wheel. Located almost 10 miles from Highway 1 at The Sea Ranch, the winery serves hand-crafted wine and beautiful views. Insider tip: Bring a picnic to enjoy when you taste and ask about the winery history. Grapes aren’t the only fruit that has grown in the fields. The vineyards are planted in an old apple orchard.

Image Source: Yelp

Fort Ross Vineyard Tasting Room
15725 Meyers Grade Road
Jenner, CA 95450
(707) 847-3460
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 21 reviews
Reservations: Not required

Fort Ross Vineyard gets bragging rights for having the closest vineyard to the Pacific Ocean in California. It’s also the first and only tasting room along the Sonoma Coast in the Fort Ross-Seaview American Viticultural Area (AVA). Insider tip: Bring snacks to enjoy on the balcony when you do your tasting. And don’t be afraid to ask about wine and food pairing.

Image Source: Yelp

Sonoma Coast Vineyards Tasting Room
555 Coast Highway 1
Bodega Bay, CA 94923
(707) 921-2860
Reservations: Not required

Located right on Highway 1, there’s no reason not to pull into the tasting room. Sonoma Coast Vineyards works with area growers and uses artisanal methods to produce their wines. Insider tip: Enjoy five wines paired with locally sourced small plates when you reserve the Sonoma Coast Wine & Food Experience. The menu is seasonal and a vegetarian option is available.

Where to Walk in the Sand

Image Source: Yelp

Sonoma Coast State Park extends 17 miles from Bodega Head in the south to Jenner in the north. There something to love about every beach here and there’s nothing wrong with just pulling over when you see a stretch of sand that looks intriguing. Jenner is where the Pacific Ocean and the Russian River meet. Harbor seals can be as common as sea gulls, especially during pupping season, March through June.

Image Source: Yelp

The high cliffs of Bodega Head make it a popular spot to watch migrating gray whales January through May. Hiking trails offer an assortment of scenic vistas and the chance to get some vacation exercise. If playing in the sand tops your list, there’s a small beach just off the inland side of the parking lot. Hold onto your hat, and on blustery days tie it down. If you’re feeling windblown, just roll the car down the parking lot entry road to Campbell Cove. Hidden in plain sight, the beach is sheltered and rarely crowded.

Whatever beach you choose, wear layers. Sunny days can quickly give way to foggy skies, or vice versa. It’s easy to peel off extra layers.