Welcome to the coastal town of Bodega Bay, where nature’s beauty blends harmoniously with a dash of adventure. Nestled along the picturesque Pacific coastline of northern California, this beachy destination has long been hailed for its stunning vistas, charming harbor, and delicious fish-centric eateries (don’t miss getting clam chowder!). Bodega Bay may also ring a bell for those who appreciate cinematic classics, as Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic thriller, “The Birds,” was filmed amidst the captivating backdrop of this very town.
But fear not, as your adventure here won’t be marred by a feathery frenzy. Instead, there is a long list of fun things to do in Bodega Bay, where its outdoor activities, pretty landscapes and yummy food offerings come together to create unforgettable bucket list experiences. Whether you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast or a dedicated foodie seeking culinary delights, this coastal gem has something for every wanderer.
Fun Activities & the Best Things to Do in Bodega Bay California
1. Enjoy the Beach
Whether you seek the peacefulness of crashing waves, exploring tide pools filled with marine life, or simply a place to unwind and soak up the sun, Bodega Bay’s diverse array of beaches has something for you. These are our top picks:
- Doran Beach: Stretch out on the sandy shores and take a dip in the gentle waves of Bodega Bay. Keep an eye out for shorebirds and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.
- Arched Rock Beach: Explore the beach’s intriguing rock formations and tide pools while basking in the stunning coastal scenery.
- Goat Rock Beach: Witness the towering cliffs and picturesque coastline, and if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of harbor seals and migrating whales.
- Schoolhouse Beach: Discover the hidden gem known for its seclusion and tide-dependent shoreline, offering a unique and peaceful beach experience.
- Salmon Creek: A popular beach, Salmon Creek is known for its scenic hiking trails and picturesque creek.
2. Check Out Some Art
This small coastal town might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of art, but it’s definitely got some hidden gems. You’ll find a handful of art galleries scattered around, each with its own unique vibe. Here are a few not to miss:
- Pacific Bay Gallery: Immerse yourself in the diverse works of local artists showcasing paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry in a charming gallery setting.
- Artisans’ Co-op Gallery: Browse through an array of unique artworks, including paintings, photography, glass art, and woodwork, created by talented artists from the region.
- Historic Town of Bodega Art Gallery: Step into the historic art gallery featuring local and regional artists’ creations, capturing the essence of Bodega Bay’s rich heritage.
- Ren Brown Collection: Indulge your senses in contemporary Japanese prints, ceramics, and sculptures displayed in a serene gallery space.
3. Buy Treats at Patrick’s of Bodega Bay Salt Water Taffy
Don’t miss stepping into the recognizable pink and white shop of Patrick’s, where a variety of handmade saltwater taffy will satisfy your sweet cravings. From classic flavors like vanilla (my favorite!) and watermelon to enticing mixed taffy packs such as the Dessert Mix and Berries and Cream, there’s a taffy for every taste. While you’re there, don’t forget to browse their collection of t-shirts and other souvenirs, perfect for taking home a piece of Bodega Bay.
4. Get Clam Chowder at Spud Point Crab Company
This local favorite is best known for its creamy, flavorful white clam chowder that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving more. But the delights don’t stop there!
Alongside their famous chowder, Spud Point Crab Company offers a few other seafood options, such as their crab sandwich (another must-try!) and albacore tuna sandwich.
5. Stroll the Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail
The Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail is a pretty pathway in Bodega Bay, California, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and vibrant marshlands. Stretching approximately 1.2 miles, this leisurely stroll provides a serene escape into nature and also connects the Doran Regional Park with the different trails within the California Coastal Trail.
Birdwatchers will be delighted to spot a variety of avian species, including herons, egrets, and even the occasional bald eagle soaring above.
6. Go Ocean Fishing
The nutrient-rich waters filled with marine life makes Bodega Bay a haven for fishing enthusiasts, promising a fun experience, and the possibility of landing that trophy fish you’ve always dreamed of. Whether you’re casting your line from the shore or venturing out on a chartered fishing excursion, you’ll have the chance to reel in prized catches like salmon, rockfish, lingcod, and Dungeness crab.
P.S. Be sure to have a California State fishing license before going on a fishing excursion. You can expect to pay around $15 for a single-day license (price subject to change). Alternatively, you can fish on a public pier instead, as it does not require a one.
7. Take a Tour at Bodega Marina Laboratory
The Bodega Marine Laboratory is a renowned research facility that offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the wonders of marine science. Situated on a 104-acre site, this expansive laboratory is part of the University of California, Davis.
Inside its facilities, you can explore captivating exhibits and interactive displays that showcase the region’s rich marine biodiversity and ongoing research efforts. Some of the marine creatures you’ll see include sea urchins, crabs, and starfish. To ensure you have a spot, it’s best to book your tour in advance.
8. Buy a Kite and Use it! (Second Wind or Candy & Kites)
Flying a kite is not something you usually get to experience when traveling. Fortunately, this is one of the unique Bodega Bay activities you can do during your visit, especially during spring.
Make your way to one of the local kite shops, such as Second Wind or Candy & Kites, where you can choose from a wide selection of kites. Then, head over to one of the beaches (I highly suggest Doran Beach for this one) and discover the joy of kite flying.
9. Check Out The Children’s Bell Tower
The Children’s Bell Tower along Highway 1 stands as a touching tribute to Nicholas Green, a little boy who lost his life at the hands of robbers during a family trip to Italy in 1994.
This three-tiered, 18-foot tall steel sculpture comprises 140 bells, each symbolizing the joyful spirit and innocence of childhood as they chime with the gentle coastal breeze.
10. Get Seafood at Fish Markets
Whether you’re in the mood for a casual seafood shack or an elegant waterfront restaurant, Bodega Bay, California, offers a vibrant dining scene that will leave you craving more seafood. Here are some of my favorites:
- Drakes Sonoma Coast: A fancier restaurant offering sustainable seafood, and features a diverse selection of fresh catches, including seasonal specialties like wild salmon and oysters.
- Fishetarian Fish Market – With a focus on local and sustainable seafood, they offer mouthwatering options like the best fish and chips and prawn tacos. It is mostly outdoor dining at picnic tables, so make sure it’s a warm day or bundle up.
- Terrapin Creek Café – As a Michelin-starred restaurant, Terrapin Creek Café delivers an exceptional culinary experience. They showcase locally sourced ingredients and incorporate fresh seafood from Bodega Bay into their innovative seasonal dishes.
- Fisherman’s Cove – A local favorite, Fisherman’s Cove combines a quaint fish market with casual dining, offering fresh seafood for you to enjoy at their picnic tables overlooking the bay.
11. Catch Trout at the Hagemann Ranch
Hagemann Ranch is a family-run gem near Highway 1 in Bodega Bay where you can experience the tranquility of fishing in their picturesque ponds that are loaded with rainbow trout. No license is required, and you can bring your own fishing rod or rent theirs for a small fee.
Additionally, they offer delightful horseback riding adventures, guiding you through scenic trails like around the trout ponds and even into the dunes and beach, suitable for beginners and kids.
12. Go Whale Watching
During the months of December to April, Bodega Bay becomes a popular hub for witnessing the annual migration of gray whales. Additionally, humpback whales, orcas, and even blue whales can be spotted off the coast in different seasons.
The Ocean Overlook at Bodega Head offers a perfect spot to view these gentle giants from up high. Of course, seeing the whales up close on a whale-watching tour is another fantastic experience in and of itself. Definitely a must-add to your list of Bodega Bay activities!
13. Hike On A Coastal Trail
Bodega Bay offers some of the prettiest coastal trails that showcase the region’s natural beauty. Most of these trails wind along the rugged shoreline, providing epic views of the Pacific Ocean and dramatic cliffs.
One of the most popular coastal trails is the Bodega Head Trail, a 1.67-mile (2.7 km) trail that takes you around the iconic Bodega Head peninsula, offering awe-inspiring panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Another great trail to explore is the Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail, which goes through a gulch that leads to a beach at the bottom. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear though, as it can get muddy.
14. Jump in the Saddle and Go Horseback Riding
Saddle up and explore scenic trails that wind through rolling hills, sandy beaches, and enchanting dunes. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, Bodega Bay caters to all skill levels, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
15. Kayak or Stand Up Paddle Board in Bodega Bay and Beyond
Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in Bodega Bay, California offers a chance to connect with nature and enjoy the coastal beauty. The Bodega Bay Surf Shack provides rentals and lessons for kayaks and paddleboards, conveniently located near the harbor. If you have your own kayak, Doran Regional Park and Westside Regional Park offer boat launching spots.
Beyond Bodega Bay, Sonoma County offers more opportunities for these water adventures. North of Bodega Bay, the Russian River spans 115 miles (185 km), meandering through various towns and regional parks. Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Park along the river is ideal for beginners seeking a peaceful paddle. Riverfront Park also offers a picturesque setting for exploring the tranquil waters.
Heading northeast, Spring Lake Regional Park provides calm waters for beginners to refine their skills and appreciate the natural surroundings. And for a unique experience, Tomales Bay, a short distance south of Bodega Bay, offers a magical encounter with bioluminescent plankton that light up the water at night.
P.S. Be sure to check out for any “blue-green algae” warnings at the Sonoma County website (which usually happens in the summer), especially if you’re going to the Russian River.
16. See the Ancient Mammoth Rocks
Discover the Ancient Mammoth Rocks along the Kortum Trail in Bodega Bay. These impressive rocks, standing at 60 feet tall, bear intriguing smooth sections whose origin remains a mystery.
Scientists propose that wooly mammoths and other large mammals may have used them as scratching posts, gradually smoothing the surfaces. While further studies are needed, witnessing these enigmatic formations amidst the rugged Pacific Coast landscape is a remarkable sight.
17. Escape to Osmosis Spa for a Cedar Enzyme Bath
Osmosis Day Spa offers a unique and rejuvenating bucket list experience: a cedar enzyme bath. This therapeutic bath involves immersing yourself in a warm mixture of finely ground cedar and rice bran, which has been fermented with beneficial enzymes.
As you relax in the aromatic cedar wood tub, the enzymes gently exfoliate and nourish the skin, while the warmth soothes muscles and promotes circulation. It also detoxifies the body, supports digestion, and restores balance and well-being.
This experience is in the neighboring town of Freetown, a couple of miles east of Bodega Bay.
18. Shop at Pelican Plaza Market
Pelican Plaza Market is a local gem that showcases a full-service deli and a large (and I mean LARGE) variety of locally sourced products, artisanal crafts, and delicious gourmet treats. In fact, it is not a stretch to say that this is a one-stop shop for everything you will ever need during your stay at Bodega Bay.
19. Take a Sailing Tour of Bodega Bay
Being a coastal town, a trip to Bodega Bay is never complete without seeing the beauty of its waters up close and personal. One way you can do this is by taking a sailing tour, and the best one you can find in town is Bodega Bay Sailing.
The tour takes you on a 3-hour journey where you can see the surrounding coastal landscapes, spot wildlife like seals and whales, and venture out 10 miles offshore into the Pacific Ocean.
20. Go Wine Tasting
Embark on a wine-tasting journey in Bodega Bay, where you can discover the region’s exceptional vineyards and indulge in the flavors of Sonoma County.
Just because you’re on the coast, doesn’t mean you can’t do a little wine tasting. Start vino adventure at Sonoma Coast Vineyards, where the cool coastal climate creates ideal conditions for producing exceptional wines.
For a truly immersive experience, make your way to Fort Ross Vineyards, nestled on the rugged hills of Fort Ross State Historic Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This family-owned winery specializes in cool-climate wines, including their acclaimed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
21. See Watson Schoolhouse
Take a step back in time and visit the historic Watson Schoolhouse, a charming one-room schoolhouse that dates back to 1904. Although you can’t go inside, you can read up on its history on a panel just outside it.
There are also picnic tables and a portable restroom in the area if you fancy having a quiet meal. You can find the schoolhouse along Bodega Highway, around 2 miles east from Bodega.
22. Play Golf at The Links At Bodega Harbour
If you are a golfer, then Indulge in a picturesque 18-hole experience at The Links At Bodega Harbour. Enjoy the coastal views as you navigate the challenging fairways and well-maintained greens.
23. Eat at The Tides Wharf & Restaurant
With its waterfront location and fresh, locally caught seafood, The Tides Wharf & Restaurant has been a culinary staple in Bodega Bay since 1959.
Savor delicious seafood cuisines such as calamari vinaigrette, Dungeness crab sandwiches, and bread bowl clam chowder while enjoying panoramic views of the bay and charming fishing boats.
P.S. The Tides Wharf & Restaurant also featured in the 1963 film The Birds (which we’ll get into later). Although its appearance has changed over time, a small replica of the restaurant’s original facade can still be seen at their gift house.
24. Visit a Filming Location of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” at Potter Schoolhouse
Pay homage to a piece of cinematic history by visiting the iconic filming locations of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” in Bodega Bay and the surrounding area.
One of the most memorable filming locations is the Potter Schoolhouse, situated inland in the town of Bodega. However, it is now a private residence, so you can only admire it from the outside. Adjacent to the schoolhouse, you’ll find another significant site from the film, the St. Teresa of Avila Church. For a deeper exploration, venture further inland to the charming town of Valley Ford, where one of the movie’s most iconic scenes was filmed.
25. Visit St. Teresa of Avila Church
The St. Teresa of Avila Church is a historical landmark situated on a hilltop that overlooks Bodega Highway. Built in 1860, it is the oldest church still running to this day in Sonoma County.
Thanks to its association with 1963 film “The Birds,” the church has become a popular tourist attraction for film enthusiasts and Hitchcock fans. But even without the film’s influence, this charming white, wooden church is a pretty sight.
26. Explore Fort Ross State Historic Park
Located 22 miles north of Bodega Bay, Fort Ross State Historic Park has a historical significance as a former Russian settlement in early 19th-century California.
The park’s well-preserved buildings and artifacts offer visitors a glimpse into the lives of Russian colonists and the cultural exchange that took place during that time. The scenic coastal setting adds to the park’s allure, providing a picturesque backdrop for exploration and reflection.
27. See the Bufano Peace Statue Monument in Jenner
The 93-foot Bufano Peace Statue Monument at Timber Cove Resort in Jenner is a striking and unique sculpture that stands as a symbol of peace and unity. Created by renowned artist Beniamino Bufano, the statue’s abstract design and vibrant colors make it an eye-catching landmark.
Set against the backdrop of Jenner’s breathtaking coastal beauty, the Bufano Peace Statue Monument adds a touch of artistic beauty to the area, inviting visitors to contemplate and appreciate its message of harmony.
28. Visit the Sea Ranch Chapel
Designed by renowned architect James Hubbell, this small, intimate chapel blends seamlessly with its natural surroundings. Its unique wave-like design, inspired by the contours of the landscape, creates a tranquil and meditative atmosphere that is truly awe-inspiring. You can even say it is like something straight out of a fairy tale! You can find the Sea Ranch Chapel in the 7,000 acre Sea Ranch community, a couple of miles north of Bodega Bay.
Where to Sleep
- The Lodge At Bodega Bay
Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in tranquility at The Lodge At Bodega Bay, nestled along the scenic Sonoma Coast. The lodge offers a variety of room types, including spacious guest rooms and suites, many of which boast stunning views of the surrounding coastal beauty.
You can indulge in delectable dining options at the on-site Drakes Sonoma Coast Kitchen, which features a menu showcasing locally sourced ingredients and flavors, or sit back and relax as you sip your favorite drink at the Fireside Lounge.
For some pampering, they also offer massage and spa treatments, perfect for de-stressing and feeling rejuvenated. And if you fancy some walking and birdwatching, you can go on an easy guided nature walk trail near The Lodge.
From the breathtaking vistas to the tantalizing flavors, there are plenty of things to do in Bodega Bay that offer a tapestry of experiences and leave an indelible checkmark on your bucket list.
Best Tips for Visiting Bodega Bay California
How to Get to Bodega Bay California: Santa Rosa (STS) Airport is the closest airport, but it will be cheaper to fly to Oakland (OAK) or San Francisco (SFO). You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination.
Getting Around: It is best to rent a car to get to and explore Bodega Bay. Driving in a new destination can be a bit of a challenge, but if you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of other options. Taxis, Lyft and Uber are available, but may be scarce and expensive.
Best Time to Visit Bodega Bay California: The best months for good weather in Bodega Bay are April to November.
Where to Stay in Bodega Bay California: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in. The Lodge At Bodega Bay is a great choice. For something on the less expensive side, try Bodega Bay Inn. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Bella Haven. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. For more information read my full disclosure.
More Things to Do in Northern California
Mendocino California Bucket List: 35 Best Things to Do
Santa Cruz California Bucket List: 35 Best Things to Do
Point Reyes National Seashore Bucket List: 25+ Things to Do
Yosemite Bucket List: 30 Things to Do in the National Park
California Bucket List: 75+ Fun Things to Do from Northern to Southern
A Guide to California’s Hearst Castle Mansion (+ Best Tours)
A Guide to the Fort Bragg Glass Beach in Northern California
San Francisco Bucket List: 60 Best Things to Do in the Fun City of SF
Half Moon Bay Bucket List: 30 Things to Do Along California’s Coastside