Sometimes, there is nothing more soothing for the soul than to escape the bustle of the daily life and go on a road trip. Even if it’s for a half day. And luckily, this beautiful state has us covered with road trips that never get boring.
We can road trip on the same route many times, but there is always something new to discover, something we missed last time. Today’s road trip is taking you to North California, to Sonoma’s rough coast. Green meadows, rolling hills, sharp cliffs and the wild ocean is what awaits you on this journey. And of course, few stops to rest, eat and refuel.
There are so many twists and turns you can take; you don’t know what boat shack, secret cove or cheese farm you will stumble upon next.
START :: HWY 1 to Bodega Bay
We are skipping today a good portion of HWY 1 and are driving up to Bodega Bay on the fastest route to explore more north of Bodega Bay. Your best way up is on HWY 101 to Rohnert Park and then cut through the countryside again to HWY 1. This part of HWY 1 leads through lush farmland, passing by happy cows (at least we like to think they are happy). It’s a nice change of scenery if you are used to driving all the way from Mill Valley on HWY 1 along the coast.
BODEGA BAY STROLL
Our first stop is Bodega Bay. If you are a Hitchcock movies fan, then we bet you know The Birds was filmed here. But don’t fret, the sleepy town is not scary at all and perfect to unplug for few hours. Whether you go hiking, horseback riding, surfing or kayaking — the outdoor activities here seem to be endless. You can also just have a leisure walk at the nearby Doran Beach and watch — the birds. There are bed & breakfast if you decide to stay overnight. We also found this super cute Airbnb in case you are planning to stay over the weekend. Although a tiny town, Bodega Bay has few good food spots. For best fish ‘n’ chips stop at Boat House; for a quick coffee and pastries at The Birds Cafe; Spud Point Crab Company is great for clam chowder and Fisherman’s Cove for a nice big plate of crab meat & fries. As usual along the coast, you can also find some salt water taffy stores to satisfy your sweet tooth. Patrick’s of Bodega Bay has them in all flavors, plus the pink/white striped cottage is quite instagrammable.
BREATH AT SONOMA COAST STATE PARK
It’s nature against nature show off at the Sonoma Coast State Park. Now that the hills are green again, you won’t be sure where to look first. The blue ocean, the said green hills, the flowers covered meadows. This is the spot to make that one picture and pack all your digital equipment away so you can focus solely on yourself and the beauty of Mother Nature. Breath, walk, meditate, soak in the views — this is the moment to recharge.
LUNCH AT TIMBER COVE INN
From Bodega Bay head further north for lunch at Coast Kitchen at Timber Cove Inn. The 70s resort just got a total makeover in 2016 by no less than the Novogratz, the designer wife & husband team. The resort now features 46 beautifully remodeled and redecorated rooms mirroring the rustic and coastal surroundings. Retro chic details ( hello plaid!) and local art are sprinkled throughout the whole property creating a modern cabin feel. We absolutely can see ourselves coming here back for a long weekend. What used to be a very commercial looking restaurant is now Coast Kitchen, a welcoming restaurant with ocean views and a menu inspired by local ingredients. Coast Kitchen is open to everyone and on a sunny day, make sure you grab a spot outside. After lunch make sure to stroll around and just soak in one of the best spots on California’s Coast.
COFFEE BREAK AT JENNER
Before you drive back inland, grab a coffee in Jenner at Cafe Aquatica. The small coffee shack serves in-house roasted brews and also has some good snacks on the menu. Their salads and sandwiches, all made to order are very well portioned (just saying). If you are not in a hurry, have a seat at the outdoor benches and pause for awhile.
WILD WILD WEST AT DUNCAN MILLS
On route 116 towards Guerneville you might pass by this western remnant even without recognizing it, but we are here to tell you to stop at the Duncan Mills. Former lumber town, Duncan Mills is a small community that has kept its Wild West architecture and is now home to antique stores, a very famous tea shop, a general store and few restaurants. A stroll around Duncan Mills won’t take longer than 30 minutes, and it’s worth few fun images and a peek into a long gone time.
ICE CREAM IN GUERNEVILLE
Guerneville is rapidly becoming the Ojai of Northern California. Tucked away between redwoods on the Russian River, Guerneville has seen a big development jump catering to young, hip folks from more urban areas. Only in last two years new restaurants and hotels have opened up. The old bank building is now a fancy home to an Nimble & Finn’s ice cream and Chile Pie’s Baking Co, just next to Commerce Fine Goods — a cute shop stocked with home goods, clothes, jewelry and more. Grab an ice cream and have a walk on the River Road all the way towards the Bridge. We bet you will be scheming your way back to Guerneville soon.
Some of our favorites in Guerneville:
Hotel Boon – sleep, relax, get a massage or hang out at the pool. This hotel is our favorite stay in Guerneville. During the summer months they even have glamping tents set up.
Autocamp – North California is now happy to have the Airstream hotel, too. The modern campers are perfect for everyone who likes it more natural but doesn’t want to quit on comfort.
Boon eat + drink – Brunch, brunch, brunch! This spot is really good, but plan in advance; there might be a line.
Big Bottom Market – just get their biscuits. There are some of the softest and buttery we have ever tasted.
Seaside Metal Oyster Bar – this seafood place opens only for dinner and is owned by the brother duo who runs Bar Crudo in SF.
El Barrio – Looking for some light cocktails, maybe a nightcap and some snacks and look no further than El Barrio.
FINISH LINE :: THE BARLOW, SEBASTOPOL
From Guerneville, it’s not far to Sebastopol, another up and coming town of Sonoma. With the opening of The Barlow complex, Sebastopol got on a map of new restaurateurs, micro brewers, and shop owners. What used to be an industrial area, mainly known for factories processing apples, is now a business district filled with everything from local groceries to breweries and distilleries furniture and flower shops. If the road trip has made you hungry, we recommend pizza at Vignette Pizzeria, owned by , another alum of Thomas Keller, Chef Mark Hopper.
Good to know:
Duration: ca. 6 hours
Route: See map
Make sure you have layers with you, the weather can be unpredictable.