Bodega Bay, located in Sonoma County, California, was made originally famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds. Now, this quirky little fishing town in Northern California is a perfect place to visit if you love being outside. (We promise, no birds will attack you!)
From beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean to rugged cliffs and rolling hills, Bodega Bay has a bit of everything. In addition to plenty of outdoor recreation, this California town has great food, shopping, and local art galleries.
Here are 11 things to do in Bodega Bay that will show you why this coastal town is worth a visit.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN BODEGA BAY
Top Pick. The Lodge at Bodega Bay (a.k.a, Bodega Bay Lodge). This lush hotel offers a unique experience by mixing rugged and natural beauty with luxury. See our complete write-up on it below.
Best Luxury Option. Captain’s Hideaway in Bodega Bay is just .7 miles from Doran Beach. With awesome sea views, this holiday home makes for the perfect family retreat.
Best for Couples. Bodega Coast Inn and Suites is a 20-minute walk to the beach, and each room offers water views. Select rooms feature a spa
ENJOY WHALE WATCHING
Bodega Harbor and Bodega Bay is along the migration path of blue and gray whales, making it a great place for whale watching. You can spot whales all year long, but peak migration season is January through May, when they’re heading south for the winter. Many of the pods are known to leave Alaska and swim south to Baja.
Blue whales are massive creatures growing up to 100 feet in length and weighing more than 300,000 pounds. Gray whales are much smaller, coming in at 45 feet and weighing 75,000 pounds. Gray whales were once on the endangered species list with only 2,000 of them in the wild. Thanks to conservation efforts, there are now over 20,000 gray whales in the oceans.
There are several ways to enjoy whale watching in Bodega Bay. There are whale-watching tours that take you out into the ocean to see them up close-ish, or you can go to Ocean Overlook at Bodega Head and see them from a distance. Another great spot is the beach at the end of the Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail.
PADDLE THE BAY
Paddleboarding and kayaking are super popular ways to explore Bodega Bay and other areas of Sonoma County. Tours and rentals are available from many places, including Bodega Bay Kayak.
There are endless places to paddle, but some of the most popular are The Russian River, Steelhead Beach, Sunset Beach, Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach, and regional parks such as Doran Regional Park, Springlake, Cloverdale River, and Riverfront.
These places are all great for any level of paddle boarders and kayakers, with Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach being the best spot for total beginners. As you explore, keep your eyes open for seals, otters, stingrays, skates, and bald eagles!
GO HORSEBACK RIDING
Horseback riding is another, more mellow way to explore the Bodega Bay area. There are various stables to choose from that are all committed to a good experience. Whether it’s your first time ever on a horse, you’re an experienced rider, or you have your own horses, riding through Sonoma Country is breathtakingly beautiful. Many places offer guided tours, private and group tours and some offer pony rides!
You can choose from different lengths of time as well as different terrain. Beach rides are super popular, along with trail rides into the mountains and hills.
If you happen to have your own horses and are just looking to ride, there are dozens of trails to explore. Some of the best include Mount Burdell Preserve, Tolay Lake Regional Park, Taylor Mt. Regional Park & Open Space Preserve, Jack London State Historic Park, Brutal Rush Creek Bahia Trail, Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail, and more.
SEE ‘THE BIRDS’ HOUSE
Alfred Hitchcock, the infamous filmmaker known for his horror movies, filmed his movie, The Birds, right in Bodega Bay. Filmed in the 1960s, Hitchcock used many locations in Bodega Bay, including The Potter Schoolhouse. While it is now a private residence, it is still standing today, and it’s perfect for a quick drive-by.
The Tides and The Inn at the Tides also made an appearance in the movie and are both open to visitors.
While you explore, you may recognize even more scenery from other movies that were filmed here. Other famous movies filmed in Bodega Bay including The Goonies, The Fog, and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
EXPLORE MORE (REAL) BIRD WATCHING
Here’s the thing about Bodega Bay…it really is well-known for being a bird-watching hotspot!
Similar to whales, birds have a migration route and Bodega Bay sits right on it. Typically you can spot Albatross, Northern Fulmar, a variety of Shearwaters’, Petrels, Cormorants, Phalaropes, Jaegers, Gulls, Elegant Tern, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Cassin’s Auklet, and dozens more.
There are birding clubs that offer guided tours and, of course, you can check out spots on your own. Don’t forget your binoculars!
The best areas to go birdwatching are Campbell Cove, Diekmann’s Bay Store, Doran Beach, the Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail, Gaffney Point, The Hole in the Head, North end of Harbor, Rail Ponds, Spud Point Crab Co., The Tides Wharf, Owl Canyon, Porto Bodega, Smith Brothers Road, and the Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail across from Bodega Harbor Golf Course.
CHOW DOWN AT SPUD POINT CRAB COMPANY
Spud Point Crab Company is a family-owned and operated crab company known for its award-winning clam chowder.
Tony and Carol Anello opened Spud Point in 2004 after lengthy careers in commercial fishing. Now, Tony and his son, Mark, crab and fish from their three ships — and what they catch, you eat. You can even see them moored right across the street.
The restaurant is open 7 days a week from 9-5 (closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Known worldwide for their clam chowder, Spud Point also has amazing crab cakes, sandwiches, and chili.
SOAK UP THE SUN AT THE BEACH
Everybody loves a good beach day and Bodega Bay has some beautiful ones to choose from. There are over 20 beaches where you can sit, relax and work on your tan, amongst other beach activities.
The largest beach is Wright’s Beach, which also allows overnight camping on the beach. There is a hiking trail called Kortum Trail that takes you to Shell Beach. Due to strong rip currents and big “sneaker” waves, swimming isn’t recommended here, but fishing is!
Doran Beach is a sandy, 2-mile stretch of beach that offers a campground, picnic areas, fishing and boating, hiking, biking, horseback riding trails, and birdwatching. There is an easy-to-use boat launch for kayaks and other small boats.
Bodega Head is a rocky beach that is perfect for spotting whales. You can also go hiking on various trails along the cliffs and headlands. This is not a swimming spot but you can enjoy a picnic!
Cambel Cove is best visited at low tide when the beach is wide and sandy. There is also a small boardwalk and viewing platform to the “hole in the head”, a small pond.
Shorttail Gulch Beach is not the easiest to get to but it is well worth it. At low tide, there are tide pools you can explore where you might find crabs, fish, and other little creatures.
TASTE THE GRAPES AT SONOMA COAST VINEYARDS
Sonoma Coast Vineyards is best known for its cold climate and crafted wines. The vineyard is located 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
When you visit their tasting room, you get a flight of wine from their current releases. Enjoy wine from the four pre-poured carafes while enjoying panoramic views of the bay. You can also book a picnic with a view for up to 12 people and your furry friends.
Sonoma Coast Vineyards hosts virtual tastings, has a wine club, as well as a tasting room and wine shop. They offer red, white, and rose wines, as well as Cheese & Charcuterie Picnic Boxes.
Sonoma Coast Vineyards is comprised of five family-owned vineyards. These include the Laguna Vista Vineyards, Bella Sonoma Vineyard, Peterson Vineyard, Balistreri Family Vineyard, and the Antonio Mountain Vineyard.
VISIT AN ART GALLERY
Bodega Bay has numerous art galleries that you can visit that feature local artists and artisans, as well as art from around the world. Whether you need a day out of the sun, you’re an art collector, or you just need some creative inspiration, stepping food into any art gallery in Bodega Bay will fulfill that urge.
The Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery features a wide collection of historic paintings from California. If you want to know about the history of California, this is a great gallery to visit. The gallery also specializes in finding vintage prints to restore and sell.
The Pacific Bay Gallery has a variety of local artists on display as well as artists from around the world. On display are two and three-dimensional works of art, rare and limited edition etchings, sculptures, carvings, as well as relic art. The gallery features antique and vintage paintings of the Sonoma Coast as well as original Native American paintings.
The Ren Brown Collection Gallery is home to contemporary Japanese prints, handmade ceramics & jewelry, and Japanese antiques. The Artisans’ Co-Op is a super popular place to visit. In the co-op, you can find pieces from over 50 local artisans. There is a variety of mediums including textiles, ceramics, glass, wood, jewelry, photography, and paintings.
Bodega Art Gallery is of historical significance and offers paintings, ceramics, gems and jewelry, antiques, shirts, and vintage art. Cypress Gallery and Bizarre has handmade goods and apothecary items, new and vintage clothing for both men and women and they also offer tarot card readings on Friday nights and weekends.
OVERNIGHT AT BODEGA BAY LODGE
The Lodge at Bodega Bay is a coastal retreat on the rugged cliffs of Bodega Bay. This lush hotel offers a unique experience by mixing rugged and natural beauty with luxury.
Most rooms here come with a fireplace and a private balcony or patio with views of the water.
Guests have unlimited access to beach cruisers, a fitness room, ocean-view pool, infinity-edge hot tub, and sauna. There is an upscale restaurant onsite called Drake’s that offers seasonally fresh seafood and locally grown produce, and they are committed to sustainability. They offer the finest of local wines and are open daily for breakfast and dinner.
Fireside Lounge is a more relaxed spot with great cocktails and locally crafted beers. While sipping and relaxing you can enjoy astonishing views of Bodega Head, Doran Beach, and the Pacific Ocean.
The Lodge at Bodega Bay also offers spa services for its guests. They are best known for their Warm Shell Massage and the Cabernet Grape Sea Scrub, but they also offer customized spa treatments and a variety of massages. These include Sonoma Coast Massage, Aromatherapy Massage, Hot Stone Massage, and special massages for pregnant women. You can choose to relax in one of the spa treatment rooms, or they can come to your private room.
Guests of the hotel can charter a deep-sea fishing trip, play golf on a championship course, comb the beaches, go hiking, or just relax in the sun. Surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are also popular activities.
Book It: The Lodge at Bodega Bay
DAY TRIP TO SONOMA COAST STATE PARK
Located right in Bodega Bay, Sonoma Coast State Park is a 17-mile stretch of protected coastline. Many people choose to camp throughout the park so they can really explore all the park has to offer.
At the state park you’ll find Bodega Dunes Campground, Wright’s Beach Campground, and Willow Creek Environmental Campground. Each campground features picnic tables, fire pits, running water, toilets, and showers.
There are various hiking trails throughout the park of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty. The best hiking trails include The Bodega Head Trail, The Bodega Dunes — which includes five-miles of marked trails for hikers and horseback riders — the Kortum Trail, and the Vista Trail.
The state park also has plenty of beaches to sit and watch for migrating whales and birds. Scuba diving and snorkeling are great ways to explore underwater, as well as surfing and windsurfing. Fishing and swimming are also popular with guests of the park.
The park has plenty of parking, a visitors and learning center, interpretive exhibits, geocaching, and historical/ cultural sites.
BODEGA BAY FAQ
Is Bodega Bay worth seeing?
Yes, Bodega Bay is definitely worth a visit! You’ll find plenty of things to do here, like enjoying the wildlife, whale watching, kayaking, horseback riding, wine tasting, and so much more. With its scenic views and outdoor activities, it’s a great place to visit.
What is Bodega Bay famous for?
Bodega Bay is famous for being the setting of the famous Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds. Nowadays, it’s become famous for its delicious seafood, taken right off the boat.
When is the best time of year to visit Bodega Bay?
If you’re looking for warmer temperatures in order to enjoy the outdoors and the water activities, from mid-June to late-September are the best times to visit Bodega Bay.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO CALIFORNIA
- YOUR CALIFORNIA VACATION
- NORTHERN CA: 18+ Magical Things To Do In Northern California Everyone Needs To Experience
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- SAN JOSE: 37 Awesome Things To Do In San Jose, California
- SANTA ROSA: 15 Best Things To Do In Santa Rosa, California
WHERE TO STAY IN BODEGA BAY
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