Sonoma County California Getaways / Bodega Bay and Guerneville

Bodega Bay And Guerneville

Having visited Sonoma County California several times, what many refer to as Wine Country, I can tell you there are manyl fun, picturesque and historic low cost side trips you can add to your visit. One of those is Bodega Bay which is due west of Santa Rosa on the coast. Take your camera because you can get some very good pics at Bodega Head which is a state park. Bodega Head is a short drive around the bay past the marinas and up over a hill. It attracts a lot of visitors and includes some very scenic walking paths. Park your car and have picnic because it’s got great coastal views.

bodega bay california
Crab Pots lined up at Bodega Bay Marina getting ready for crab season

On a clear day you can see all the way to Jenner in the north or down to Point Reyes in the south. If you drive north of Bodega Bay along Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll also pass by some terrific vistas with beautiful beaches. Good place to sit down for an hour or two and read a book. The Pacific coast at this particular spot is simply beautiful and if you decide to stay awhile, there’s some excellent choices among lodging in Bodega Bay. Because the town is right on the ocean, the weather in Bodega Bay is generally cooler than just a few miles inland. It’s one of the reasons why people flock there during the summer months.

Russian Fur Trappers

Bodega Bay was visited as early as 1809 by the Russians and they ventured even further south to the north part of San Francisco Bay as part of the Russian-American Fur Company. Their business was fur trapping and there was never an aim to colonize the area. The Spanish presence up to the San Francisco Bay area halted any further advance southward. The best reminder of the Russian occupation of the area today is farther north along the coast at Fort Ross which is now an excellent fort/museum and worth the drive up the coast.

lucas wharf at bodega bay
Lucas Wharf Fish House. Great place to buy fresh seafood.

Bodega Bay is also a large fishing port and often times you can purchase fresh crab at the marina dockside across the bay.. There’s also a terrific fresh seafood store on the water at Lucas Wharf which sells seafood brought in daily by local fishermen. If you’re looking for an excellent fresh seafood restaurant then Lucas Wharf is where you want to go. Excellent seafood dinners and moderately priced. It’s a casual restaurant perfect for a family. Also directly across the road from Bodega Bay’s marina you’ll be able to enjoy fresh chowder. It’s a popular tourist stop and the temperatures remain about 15 to 20 degrees cooler than inland. It’s an excellent respite from the summer heat that can invade inland Sonoma County.

The Russian River Town of Guerneville

Another nice stop in the summer, especially if you have kids in tow is Guerneville. Guerneville is located on River Road which runs west from Santa Rosa to the ocean. The town was a popular tourist destination for San Franciscans in the late 19th century. Guerneville was connected to the San Francisco ferry’s by the San Francisco and Great North Pacific Railroad.

the birds schoolhouse
Old schoolhouse in Bodega California seen in the movie “The Birds”

Even after rail service ended in the 1930’s Guerneville remained quite popular for people in the Bay Area who drove there by automobile. Jones Beach is in Guerneville on the Russian River where you can rent a kayak for a very small price and float on the river all day. It makes for a very relaxing time. The town also has one of the best pizza restaurants around. Guerneville is another great place to get great pictures..

There’s another interesting attraction in the town of Bodega which is about 5 miles inland from Bodega Bay. When you enter the town from the east, immediately to your left is a road up a hill which has what appears to be a restored old schoolhouse called The Potter School. Also in the town of Bodega is St. Theresa’s Church. Both of these sites were featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic move “The Birds“. While the setting for the movie plot line was Bodega Bay, much of the shooting was done in the town of Bodega itself. I can attest that on my many trips to both Bodega and Bodaga Bay the birds were quite friendly.

You’ll also be interested in our Trips Into History articles The Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Farm in Sabastopol California and the Tsunami of Crescent City California.

These are very historic California coast getaways and all stops make excellent  additions to your Sonoma Wine Country visit.