15 Fun Things to Do in Bodega Bay, California

Things to Do in Bodega Bay, California

Last updated on March 10th, 2024 at 04:06 pm

Nestled along the rugged Sonoma Coast is the charming coastal town of Bodega Bay, the perfect place for those seeking adventure and serenity. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and only recently started exploring the hidden gems in this part of the California coast. Bodega Bay has become one of my favorite places. There are many fun things to do in Bodega Bay for those interested in solitude, adventure, and a break from city life. It has windswept beaches, delicious seafood, and gorgeous hiking trails. Plus, for movie fans, there are multiple filming locations for Alfred Hitchcock’s horror film”The Birds”! If you’re intrigued and ready to explore, let’s get into the best things to do in Bodega Bay.

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Where is Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay is located about 70 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, making it a great day trip or weekend getaway. 

After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll continue on Highway 101 for about 40 minutes before exiting and ultimately joining Highway 1.

Alternatively, you could take Highway 1 the entire way, passing through Point Reyes, adding about 30 minutes. Point Reyes is another one of my favorite places in this part of California, and you could easily combine a visit to both into a weekend trip!

Bodega Bay, California

The Weather in Bodega Bay

When exploring the beautiful coastal town of Bodega Bay, it’s essential to be prepared for the unique weather. The weather in Bodega Bay is strongly influenced by its coastal location, offering a maritime climate that brings a mix of refreshing breezes and occasional fog.

Summer in Bodega Bay (June to August): During the summer months, you can expect relatively mild temperatures, ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-60s. The mornings usually bring thick fog that burns off by the afternoon. It’s the ideal time to enjoy outdoor activities, coastal walks, and beachcombing along the stunning shoreline.

Fall in Bodega Bay (September to November): In the fall, Bodega Bay experiences a slight cooling with temperatures ranging from the mid-40s to the mid-60s Fahrenheit. The fall season is known for its crisp air and the potential for beautiful sunsets, making it an excellent time for those seeking a more serene and less crowded experience.

Winter in Bodega Bay (December to February): Winter brings cooler temperatures, ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-50s. While it might be chillier, the dramatic coastal scenery and the possibility of witnessing migratory whales along the coast make it a unique and rewarding time to visit.

Spring in Bodega Bay (March to May): The temperatures gradually warm up in the spring. Daytime temperatures range from the mid-40s to the mid-60s. The spring is a great time to see beautiful wildflower blooms and baby sheep/cows.

Bodega Bay, California
Bodega Bay, California

What to Bring to Bodega Bay

As you plan your day in Bodega Bay, make sure to pack these essentials for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Alter this to ensure you have what you need for the activities you want to do in Bodega Bay.

Layers of Clothing: Since the weather can change throughout the day, bring layers such as a light jacket, a sweater, and a comfortable t-shirt. Layers ensure you’re prepared for any temperature variations. The beaches here aren’t optimal for swimming. They’re cold and have dangerous rip currents. I recommend leaving the swimsuit at home.

Sun Protection: Pack sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s rays, especially if you plan on spending time outdoors. Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are also recommended to shield yourself from the sun. Make sure to wear sun protection even on foggy days!

Comfortable Footwear: Bodega Bay offers ample hiking trails and beach walking opportunities. Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking on sand and uneven terrain. I love my Keen hiking boots for longer hikes or Blundstones for beach walks. You may even want to pack a pair of Teva sandals (or similar) for steep walks to the beach. 

Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated by bringing a reusable water bottle. Don’t forget your favorite road trip or hiking snacks. Check out this hiking packing list for some of my favorite hiking snacks. 

Camera or Smartphone: The coastal scenery here is absolutely breathtaking; you’ll want your camera, whether it’s a smartphone or something more. Remember a portable charger, especially if you rely on your smartphone for a camera, directions, etc. I use this portable charger

Binoculars: If you’re interested in birdwatching or whale watching, a pair of binoculars can enhance your experience, allowing you to observe wildlife from a distance.

Map and Guidebook: Cell service is spotty here, so make sure you save your top things to do in Bodega Bay to your Google Map and download it for offline use. I also love using AllTrails to download hiking trail directions. The pro version allows you to download trail maps for use offline. 

Blanket or Beach Towel: If you plan on relaxing by the beach or having a picnic, bring a blanket or beach towel to sit on. I love this Sand Cloud one as it’s light, and the sand really does fall right off. A thicker blanket would be nice if you plan to catch a beach sunset. 

Bodega Bay, California

15 Fun & Adventurous Things to Do in Bodega Bay

Enjoy an Easy Hike at Bodega Head

Bodega Head, part of the Sonoma Coast State Park, is a large bluff that shelters Bodega Bay and the harbor from the strength of the Pacific Ocean. It’s the perfect place for a short hike, whale watching, or a sunset picnic! 

An easy 1-mile loop starts from the parking lot restrooms. It’s the perfect place to stretch your legs while potentially catching a glimpse of a whale or seals! 

If you’d like something longer, combine this hike mentioned above with another roughly 1-mile loop following the trail north out of the parking lot. You’ll pass a small sandy beach with stairs leading to it and end at Horseshoe Cove Overlook. The overlook is a granite rock with 360o views of the Sonoma Coast. 

There is ample free parking available. There are also restrooms and picnic tables.

Bodega Head Trail

Hike the Kortum Trail

The Kortum Trail is a lovely, mostly flat trail along the coastal bluffs of Sonoma Coast State Park. The total length of the out-and-back trail is 9 miles, starting at Wright’s Beach and ending at Goat Rock Beach. However, you can start and end this trail in multiple places, walk as far as you’d like, and turn back. 

I recently did the section from Shell Beach to Blind Beach. I love this section because it includes the unique Sunset Boulders formation, popular among rock climbers. The steep section of this trail occurs just after Sunset Boulders, where you climb up and over the hill to Blind Beach and Goat Rock Beach beyond. 

There is a hill just above, appropriately called Peaked Hill, which is a great place to enjoy 360o views of the coast. It can get windy up here, so stay away from the cliff’s edges. On a still day, it’s a great place to rest with a snack before continuing on your hike!

Bathrooms are located at Wright’s Beach, Shell Beach, Blind Beach, and Goat Rock Beach.

Kortum Trail, Bodega Bay, California
Wildflowers in Bodega Bay, California

Hike the Pinnacle Gulch Trail

The Pinnacle Gulch Trail is a hidden gem in Bodega Bay. The trailhead is in the Bodega Harbour community, near the golf course.

The trail is 0.5 miles one way and is mostly flat, with the exception of stairs at the beginning and end of the trail.

The trail leads to a beautiful beach that is ¼ mile long with tide pools at low tide. If the tide is out, you can combine this trail with the Shorttrail Gulch Coastal Access Trail to the south, making it a loop. Alternatively, you can also walk north to Doran Beach. 

Pinnacle Gulch Trail Bodega Bay, California

Take Surfing Lessons with Bodega Bay Surf Shack

Interested in learning how to surf? Head to Bodega Bay Surf Shack, where, from April to August, you can take a surf lesson. The lesson includes your surfboard rental, wetsuit (much needed), and other gear for a successful day learning how to surf!

If you are an experienced surfer, Salmon Creek Beach is the most popular place to surf in Bodega Bay!

Go Kayaking or Paddle Boarding

Another way to get on the water is kayaking or paddleboarding. You can go kayaking or SUP in Bodega Bay or Salmon Creek River. 

If you don’t have a kayak or paddleboard, you can rent one from Bodega Bay Kayaks (the same owners of the surf shop). They are incredibly knowledgeable of the area and will make sure you launch in a solid place to enjoy a day on the water. 

Bodega Bay Kayaks also offers guided tours!

Visit St. Teresa of Avila Church & Potter Schoolhouse

Are you a fan of Alfred Hitchcock films? If so, the town of Bodega is filled with filming locations for the 1963 horror movie The Birds. One of those filming locations is St. Teresa of Avila Church. Legend has it that Hitchcock himself attended church services here during the filming.

This white, wooden, steepled church sits on a hilltop above the town of Bodega. It’s a very idyllic setting. Ansel Adams must’ve agreed as the famous photographer photographed it in 1953.

The church is next to the Potter School, another famous filming location for Birds.

St. Teresa of Avila Church, Bodega Bay.

Explore Bodega’s Art Galleries

While you’re in the town of Bodega, spend some time checking out the town’s shops and art galleries. 

Artisan’s Co-op: Artisan’s Co-op is a gallery with art, handmade crafts, and other unique designs from over fifty local artists. 

Bodega Heritage Art Gallery: Located in the original blacksmith shop from the 1850s, the Bodega Art Gallery has showcased many art forms since the 1960s. You’ll find ceramics, paintings, antique ships, and more. 

Artist's Co-op Bodega Bay

Explore Sonoma Coast State Park

Sonoma Coast State Park encompasses 17 miles of coastline from Bodega Head to Vista Trail. It includes some of the most beautiful beaches in Sonoma County; some are long sandy stretches, while others are rocky with secluded coves. 

Here are a few of the most popular beaches in Sonoma Coast State Park!

Shell Beach: A famous beach for tide pooling!

Goat Rock: A sandy beach home to a colony of harbor seals (keep your distance), and don’t bring your dogs!

Schoolhouse Beach & Portuguese Beach: Both are beautiful sandy beaches that will be popular on sunny afternoons! 

Salmon Creek Beach: A two-mile stretch of sand that is popular for spending the day surfing or fishing. North and South Salmon Creek Beaches are also home to Western Snowy Plovers, so please abide by the rules of no dogs, horses, or fires to protect their natural habitat.

Most beaches have designated, paved parking lots, restrooms, and picnic tables. However, remember to leave no trace and pack whatever you bring!

Rugged Sonoma Coast

Spend the Day at Doran Regional Park

Doran Regional Park offers many ways to spend a fun day on the coast. 

You can relax at Doran Beach, a 2-mile stretch of sand with relatively calm waves.

A boat launch in the park provides access to Bodega Bay and Bodega Harbor, which you can use for your kayak or paddle board.

Horses are allowed on a 1-mile stretch of sand at the park’s east end.

If you’d like to hike, Cheney Creek Trail connects Doran to the popular Birdwalk Coastal Access Trail next to Bodega Harbor. This is a popular hiking trail for birdwatching.

Doran Regional Park offers 120 campsites with potable water, flush toilets, showers, and electrical outlets. There are no electrical hookups. 

Day use costs $7.00 and is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If the parking lot fills up, it will close.

Charter a Boat to Go Whale Watching

Gray whales migrate up and down the California coast to or from Baja California. The best times of year to see them are between December and January as they travel south or mid-February to early May as they travel north. So basically, from December to May, you may spot these beauties off the Northern California coast.

You may be lucky enough to spot them from the coastal bluffs, especially Bodega Head. Alternatively, you could book a whale-watching tour. 

Bodega Bay Whale ChartersBodega Bay Whale Watching, and Andiamo Whale Charters offer private whale-watching tours for up to 6 people. The small boats are perfect for getting close to the best whale-watching sites. 

Saddle Up for a Horseback Riding Adventure

Going for a horseback ride along the beach is another fun way to experience the beautiful Sonoma Coast. 

Horse n Around Trail Rides offers multiple Bodega Bay trail rides. You can ride along the dunes, the beach, or a homestead pasture. 

There are private and group ride options available. 

Go Wine Tasting at Sonoma Coast Vineyards

Sonoma Coast Vineyards is a lovely little tasting room offering wine tastings (recommended reservations). The interior includes a cozy fireplace, multiple seating options, and a bar to enjoy wine. If it’s a nice day, you can take your wine outside to their patio to enjoy a view of the Bay. 

The wine tasting is $30 and includes a flight of 5 wines from various vineyards on the Sonoma Coast.

Sonoma Coast Vineyard wine tasting.

Where to Eat in Bodega Bay

The Sea Flower Cafe and Espresso Bar: I love a good matcha, and the people at the Sea Flower Cafe make an excellent one! They also have a wide selection of pastries, sandwiches, and other treats to take with you to the beach!

Seaflower Cafe Bodega Bay

The Fishetarian: The Fishetarian is known for its fish and chips, fish tacos, and clam chowder! You’ll order at the counter and then find your table. They also have a small market with snacks and drinks if you want to make a picnic out of it!

Seafood platter from The Fishetarian.

Spud Point Crab Company: Spud Point Crab Company is well known for its clam chowder, so on a busy Sunday afternoon, I snagged a parking spot on the road and hopped in line to try it for myself. Not that I’m a clam chowder connoisseur or anything like that.

The line moved fast as everything was readily prepared. I got the New England clam chowder and crab sandwich. The clam chowder was great! A fair amount of actual clams and other seafood, easy on the potatoes. The crab sandwich was simple, just fresh Dungeness Crab on a sourdough roll.

Is it better than any other clam chowder or crab sandwich I’ve had before? Not sure, but it was tasty.

On weekends, they also sell crab cakes starting at 1:00 pm. I was in line at 2:00 pm, and they’d already sold out!

If you don’t want to wait in line, other restaurants are on the same road, including Fisherman’s Cove and Anello Family Crab & Seafood. 

Clam chowder and crrab sandwich from Spud Point Crab Company.

Bodega Bay Oyster Company: Bodega Bay Oyster Company is on the way into Bodega Bay Bay on Valley Ford Rd. They offer fresh oysters and other seafood choices. They’re well known for the BBQ oysters! I’ve yet to stop in because I usually pass early in the morning or after they close. But I will make it a point on my next trip to Bodega to stop here!

Where to Stay in Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay is a small town, but there are many places to stay in Bodega Bay and the surrounding Sonoma County area. You can choose camping along the beach, luxury hotels, or an Airbnb. Here are a few of the best places to stay in Bodega Bay for various travel styles and budgets.

Camping in Bodega Bay

There are multiple campgrounds in Bodega Bay and the Sonoma Coast.

Doran Regional Park offers 2 miles of beach with over 120 campsites for both RVs and tents available year-round. The Miwok campground is the park’s tent-only camping. Access to the Harbor and Bay is easy, so bring your kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. The campground has showers, restrooms, and dump stations but no hookups.

Book your campsite here.

Westside Regional Park has direct access to Bodega Bay, making this a popular spot for fishermen. There are 47 campsites for tents and RVs open year-round, but they are more suitable for RV life. There is potable water, flush toilets, showers, and a dump station, but no electrical hookups. 

Book your campsite here.

Bodega Dunes Campground has about 100 tents and RV campsites with trails leading to the Bay and the beach! It’s also located just down from Bodega’s best matcha, the Sea Flower Cafe. There are hot showers, flush toilets, and a dump station, but no hookups. 

Wrights Beach, located just north of Bodega Bay, has 25 oceanfront campsites! There are no showers or potable water here, but you can get both at Bodega Dunes campground. 

Book your campsite here.

Hotels in Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay Inn is a quaint Inn located in old town Bodega Bay, tucked away off Highway 1. This family-run Inn offers free Wi-Fi and parking. The rooms are comfortable and have everything you need for a cozy place to stay in Bodega Bay! 

Check rates and availability here.

The Inn at the Tides is a charming, rustic, yet luxurious stay in Bodega Bay. The Inn offers beautiful views of the Bay from the onsite Tides Wharf Restaurant, an indoor/outdoor pool, and clean, comfortable rooms. 

Check rates and availability here.

The Lodge at Bodega Bay is the perfect place for a luxurious stay on the rugged coast. Many rooms come with bay views, a patio, and a fireplace. There is a spa onsite to aid in your relaxation from a day of coastal adventures. Their pool and hot tub overlook Doran Beach, and they have two onsite restaurants. This luxury hotel also offers excellent amenities like free bicycle rentals to explore the area, guided nature walks, Doran Beach passes (along with beach essentials), and S’mores! 

Check rates and availability here.

Unique Stays in Bodega Bay

The Spyglass Treehouse is a magical place to stay outside Bodega Bay in Occidental. This stunning villa offers a cedar hot tub surrounded by redwoods, an infrared sauna, and other bespoke amenities. You will leave this beautiful place here feeling recharged and reconnected with nature.

Check rates and availability here.

You now have a complete list of fun things to do in Bodega Bay to plan a relaxing, yet adventurous day trip from San Francisco. Alternatively, you could extend the day trip into a coastal getaway weekend! No matter how long you choose to spend in Bodega Bay, I promise it’s well worth the time.

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10 fun things to do in Bodega Bay, CA.
The best day trip to Bodega Bay, California.
The best things to do in Bodega Bay, CA.

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