The town of Bodega Bay, California lies north of the San Francisco Bay Area, situated at the northern end of a namesake bay. Bodega Bay is surrounded by breathtaking beaches and coastal wilderness areas. The town’s picture-perfect appearance has made it the setting for a number of movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film The Birds. The area’s pristine natural environment and pleasant Mediterranean climate make it a popular destination for hiking, beachcombing, water sports, observing nature, and other outdoor activities. The region is also renowned for its fresh local seafood and wine-tasting opportunities. Book a stay at a Bodega Bay vacation rental today. That said, here are the most incredible places in and around Bodega Bay.

1. North Bodega Bay

Source: Pixabay/tpsdave

On the north side of the town of Bodega Bay, within Bodega Harbor, are marinas, fishing ports, and a boat launch. You can take a sailing tour of the bay or charter a boat to head out to the open ocean and fish for halibut, salmon, ling cod, and rock cod. From the north end, a road leads along the peninsula to the promontory at Bodega Head, which has a series of hiking trails. It’s an ideal spot for watching the migration of gray whales, as they swim very close to shore at this point. Westside Regional Park, which lies partway along the peninsula, is a great place for fishing.

2. Central Bodega Bay

flower garden near the bay
Source: Flickr/Melanie

The dominating feature in the central portion of the town of Bodega Bay is Doran Regional Park. It lies on a small peninsula that encloses Bodega Harbor on the south. The park has two miles of sandy beach where you can stroll, sunbathe, have picnics, build sandcastles, and fly kites. You can also enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing, and kite surfing. Along the jetty at the mouth of the harbor, you can go fishing and crabbing as well as observe coastal sea life.

3. South Bodega Bay

hiking trail
Source: Flickr/harminder dhesi

The southern end of the town of Bodega Bay features two unique coastal access trails. Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail covers about half a mile through steep ravines to a lovely quiet beach where you can picnic and stroll along the shore. Shorttail Gulch Coastal Access Trail is steeper and leads to a beach with spectacular rock formations and hidden coves. At low tide, you can hike down one of the trails, walk along the beach, and return up the other. You can also relax and play 18 holes of golf at a course called The Links at Bodega Harbor.

4. Salmon Creek

sea gulls flocking at the shore
Source: Flickr/David A. Hofmann

The village of Salmon Creek, which is on the north side of the Bodega Head peninsula, lies near a number of popular beaches. North of the Salmon River is North Salmon Creek Beach, where you can fish, picnic, comb the beach, and bird watch. It’s common to see a number of surfers out on the offshore waves. On the other side of the river is South Salmon Creek Beach. A wide sand spit juts out between the river and the ocean, where you can often spot seals and seabirds. Further along the peninsula is Bodega Dunes Beach. The beach is a lovely and isolated stretch of sand, and the numerous trails through the dunes are great for hiking and horseback riding.

5. Jenner

parked kayak boats
Source: Flickr/Bennett Honson

The town of Jenner is on a high bluff at the mouth of the Russian River, with breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The Russian River Estuary attracts wildlife such as elephant seals, sea lions, harbor seals, great blue herons, and brown pelicans. You can observe these and other marine animals from Goat Rock State Beach on the southern side of the estuary. The abundant driftwood at the beach makes it an excellent beachcombing location. You can paddle a kayak out into the middle of the river to explore Penny Island. At the southern end of Goat Rock Beach is a popular launch point for hang gliders.

6. Occidental

orange flowers
Source: Flickr/planet a.

The town of Occidental lies a few miles northeast of Bodega Bay amidst towering California redwoods. Its Main Street is a great place to stroll and check out galleries, gift shops, and restaurants. The Occidental Center for the Arts features galleries with the works of local artists, book signings by regional authors, and regular performances of jazz, folk, and classical music. The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center is an 80-acre facility that seeks to integrate artistic expression with ecological concerns. For the adventurous, Sonoma Canopy Tours offers long zip-line rides through the redwood forest canopies.

7. Dillon Beach

human-like stone formations
Source: Flickr/stefan klocek

Dillon Beach is south of the town of Bodega Bay. The beach area in front of the town features clean white sand and a great tide pool area to explore. The waves offshore are popular with surfers. To the north is Estero de San Antonio State Marine Recreational Management Area with its beautiful and diverse environments of saltgrass, mudflats, freshwater ponds, and forested ravines. Activities include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and wildlife observation.

8. Marshall

grasses near the watercourse
Source: Flickr/David Abercrombie

The small town of Marshall lies just inside the mouth of Tomales Bay. Restaurants in and around the town are renowned for barbecued clams and oysters that are freshly caught in the bay. Across the bay is Tomales Bay State Park, a great spot for swimming, hiking, picnicking, and boating. The park features pine forests, meadows, marshes, and several beautiful beaches. Adjoining the park is Point Reyes National Seashore, a vast expanse of forested hills and beaches that are excellent for hiking. The wildlife you can observe includes elk, raptors, marine birds, and offshore gray whales.

9. Santa Rosa

tree in the middle of the grasses
Source: Flickr/harminder dhesi

The city of Santa Rosa is about 20 miles east of Bodega Bay. It’s surrounded by pristine wilderness in the heart of California’s redwood area and wine country. Wildlife corridors run through the town, and within the city you can often observe deer, raccoons, great blue herons, and snowy egrets. The city’s park system is extensive, with numerous trails for walking and cycling. Among its fascinating museums are the Pacific Coast Air Museum, the History Museum of Sonoma County, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, and the Charles M. Shultz Museum, which commemorates the work of the creator of the Peanuts comic strip.