People from all over the world come to the Napa and Sonoma County area just to drive the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway (Coastal Highway 1). From the Golden Gate Bridge, take the Muir Beach exit, just past Sausalito/Marin City. You will wind past beautiful beaches and past the Point Reyes National Seashore. Highway 1 continues along the coast, breaking off briefly to go through the town of Valley Ford before rejoining the coast at Bodega Bay. You will want to stop here at the Sonoma Coast Visitor Center, then try one of the great oceanside restaurants for some fresh fish, crab or clam chowder. Another option is to go Wine Surfing at Gourmet au Bay (but keep in mind, the road ahead is a winding road, so perhaps better on the way back). Continue up the coast and you will pass numerous accessible beaches, including the extremely photogenic Goat Rock Beach.
As you continue north, in approximately 10 miles you will encounter Jenner by the Sea. The Russian River flows into the Pacific Ocean at Jenner. Relax and enjoy the pelicans in flight, the cormorants and sandpipers hunting for their dinner, and hear the harbor seals barking. River’s End Restaurant, which overlooks the beach and is the best spot you will ever find for watching sunsets, has been named among the most romantic spots in the world. Jenner Inn offers lodging with breathtaking views. And just a few miles north (about 12), Timber Cove Inn and Alexander’s Restaurant offer a view-filled hide-away with culinary benefits.
You will also see Fort Ross State Park, where you can tour this 200-year-old Russian Settlement, including an actual fort.
The next 25 miles includes more rugged coastal scenery, several accessible beaches, Sea Ranch Lodge and Restaurant, and Sea Ranch Golf Course. Just over the Mendocino County border you will find yourself in the charming village of Gualala, where the Gualala River meets the sea. Here you’ll find an array of unique shopping opportunities.
(707) 869-2958 •parks.ca.gov/?page_id=450 •stewardsofthecoastandredwoods.org