Located in Sonoma County, Sea Ranch and the surrounding area offer visitors a slice of quiet, Californian life. Lying just a short trip north of San Francisco, this area is abundant with small towns and a big sense of hospitality. Find a Sea Ranch vacation rental that’s perfect for you, whether you’re looking to escape to a secluded shore, or enjoy energetic hikes, kayaking, and festivals.

1. Sea Ranch

On the west coast of Sonoma County, Sea Ranch is a small planned community that fits seamlessly into its beachside environment. A large percentage of the homes in Sea Ranch are vacation rentals, so you and your family have plenty of options for finding accommodation. Spend your stay getting back to nature by exploring the numerous beach and inland trails that cross through the area, or find peace and quiet in the architectural marvel of Sea Ranch Chapel.

2. Gualala

A small beach town backed by tall California redwoods, Gualala (pronounced “wa-la-la” by locals) is a picturesque location for those seeking relaxation. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and fresh air as you explore the natural landscape of Gualala. Watch whales swim from the beach or explore Gualala Point Regional Park, which covers the lush, green area where the Gualala River opens into the Pacific.

3. Timber Cove

A tiny town sitting atop rocky coastal bluffs, Timber Cove is a popular resort location within Sonoma County. While many opt for an upscale stay at the renowned resort hotel that sits at the westernmost point of the town, it is also possible to book a vacation rental within the town. Check out the landmark “peace obelisk” on the resort grounds, or spend a day hiking along the secluded coastline. The calm nature of the Cove also makes for plenty of fishing and boating opportunities.

4. Anchor Bay

A quiet town on the southern border of Mendocino County, Anchor Bay is known for its clean, peaceful stretch of beach. Anchor Bay’s position near the westernmost point of California makes this an ideal spot for enjoying oceanic sunset views, while the town itself has accommodations ranging from cute cottages to scenic campgrounds.

5. Gallaway

The town of Gallaway is an old town known for its beach access and hiking trails. Enjoy the surf at nearby Bowling Ball Beach, a wide beach that curves inland to offer shelter from the coastal winds. Vacation rentals in Gallaway have a small-town feeling, some with bed-and-breakfast style amenities. Kids and adventurous families will enjoy a selection of nature walks in this easy, low-elevation area.

6. Point Arena

Further north of Sea Ranch, Point Arena is a town packed with seaside attractions. Hike to the Point Arena Lighthouse and enjoy the picturesque views from the cliff, or take a whale watching cruise to experience the local wildlife. Point Arena offers numerous public events and festivals year-round, so book early to catch the Flower Power Festival or the Fourth of July fireworks.

7. Manchester

The town of Manchester borders the northwestern edge by Manchester State Part, which extends for several miles along California’s northern coast. Vacation rentals in Manchester offer a taste of rustic beachside relaxation. Enjoy the local attractions including the Coastal Lighthouse, and Fort Ross State Historic Park, which commemorates what remains of a Russian fur trading colony established in 1812. The reconstructed buildings will appeal to families looking to explore not only present-day California but its history as well.

8. Elk

Less than an hour’s drive north of Sea Ranch, the town of Elk sits beside Greenwood State Beach. This beach is known as a prime spot for family picnics and beachcombing. While in Elk, pay a visit to the Greenwood State Beach Visitor Center and Museum, housed in a former post office dating back to the mid-1800’s. Enjoy viewing photographs and accounts of the town’s history as a hub of lumber production — then take a stroll through the center of town to enjoy family-owned shops and restaurants.

9. Albion

The tiny town of Albion offers much in terms of natural landscape and beautiful views of the coast. Vacation rentals are secluded homes and further down the coast, slightly away from the town limits. Enjoy the scenic driving route along the beaches, and stop to check out stretches of sand such as Albion Flat Beach, which connects to a river where visitors can canoe and kayak.

10. Boonville

Just over an hour’s drive inland from Sea Ranch, Boonville offers a taste of the California woodlands. This growing town retains its quiet, laid-back feeling, while newer shops and businesses offer visitors a great opportunity to feel at home. Spend a day checking out an upbeat cafe or farmer’s market — or take a short drive out to the nearby Old Ornbaun Hot Springs for some much-needed rejuvenation.

11. Jenner

Sitting at the mouth of Russian River, a few miles south of Sea Ranch, Jenner encompasses the Russian River Estuary, a paradise for local wildlife, and in turn, visiting birding enthusiasts. Spend a day walking along Goat Rock Beach, then stop for an oceanside picnic, or visit one of the local restaurants for a bite of freshly-caught and deliciously prepared seafood.