I fell in love with Bodega Bay on a visit to Santa Rosa when I still lived in Carson City. I went there every day rain or shine, it didn’t matter. I adore the rocky, craggy shoreline. I cast a few prayers out to the ocean and lo and behold a few years later, in 2004, I had the opportunity to live there, in a house across from the beach. The deer visited the lawn every night. And it was quiet and peaceful. I took care of a cat and enjoyed the salty air.
Given my love for Bodega Bay and Half Moon Bay, Cici and I decided to travel up from Monterey along Hwy 1, along the coast. I thought that the beaches were dog friendly but found out that they are not. Not even at Costa Noa, an upscale eco camp where you can stay in a yurt. So we bypassed most of the towns. There are some interesting farms that we did not go to but one of these days, we will visit.
A great chocolate find is Donnelly’s in Santa Cruz. Yum yum. quite a great assortment of chocolates, including alcohol fillings, an array of fillings that set the mouth to watering.
Past Pescadero and Pigeon Point, just south of the town of Half Moon Bay, there is a really great Italian restaurant that has the BEST chocolate dessert (death by chocolate cake) that I’ve EVER tasted. Joe’s restaurant, 2380 S. Cabrillo Highway (Hwy 1). 650-560-9260.
Right in Half Moon Bay, just after you pass the turnoff for Hwy 92, that goes into Redwood City, we had to visit our favorite Thai restaurant, Siam Restaurant. The owner and staff are from Thailand, very friendly, the nicest people and the food is wonderful. I love the Pad Thai with chicken and chicken curry. One time, I went on a fishing trip (never again) and brought back a boatload of fish and gave it to them. They cooked some up for me in a curry sauce and it was mouthwateringly wonderful. It’s at 50 Cabrillo Hwy N, #2, Half Moon Bay. Cici made friends outside while I had lunch.
Afterwards, we walked along the beach. I can never remember which beach it is, Francis or Poplar, it has free parking, the others charge a fee. There is a horse path that goes along the cliff, the beach is very steep and I never actually go onto the beach there. She sniffed and sniffed to her heart’s delight.
After visiting another beach and wandering around town, we went to the bank and headed back to Carson City. It was around 4 pm, worse traffic ever and no good path. We got stuck along the 37 into Vallejo. Terrible place to get stuck. Isolated and deserted, but we had company because of all of the traffic. Luckily, a car filled with English tourists stopped for us and drove into town and brought us back three quarts of oil. We borrowed a cell phone and called AAA who could not find us without the turnoff exit name. Not exactly like looking for a needle in the haystack. I bet they are still looking for us.
Another time, we went to Santa Rosa, stayed at the Motel 6 on the north part of town, not the one by the college and visited Bodega Bay. We walked around Sebastopol, too. On the road from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol to Bodega, I think it’s Hwy 12, there are some orchards and there were a ton of apples on the ground. Sebastopol also has a Whole Foods Market and Screaming Mimi’s, the best homemade ice cream ever. There are a lot of shops for window shopping. And Santa Rosa has a Trader Joe’s. If you take the 116 into Sebastopol, there is a wonderful turkey/hamburger shack, Sequoia Drive-in on the way into town.
Bodega has the best fish and chips on the planet at the Boat House, a local’s favorite… The other places are overpriced and commercialized.
There is a Visitor’s Center, where they can give you a ton of info about the area. This is the town where Alfred Hitchcock filmed the movie “The Birds.”
Next to the post office, there is a great little hot dog shack, called The Dog House which has various interesting varieties of dogs and accoutrements besides mustard and ketchup. (707) 875- 2441
A great place to stay sans pets, is a wonderful little motel in Bodega where I stayed another time (pre-Cici) by myself on my birthday. No pets allowed. It’s the Harbor Inn. There is a do it yourself laundromat and 7-11 type store right around the corner. Very reasonable rates for the area and clean, quiet non-smoking rooms.
Afterwards, we visited Schoolhouse beach (across the street from where I used to live), and there were too many people and dogs. It’s a pretty small beach. Nice and accessible though. Cc decided she wanted to play with these two boys who were about 8 and 12 years old and a little overwhelmed by her enthusiasm.
We left and decided to explore other places. Went to some of my favorites, including Armstrong Woods. They were booked, or we might have camped there one night underneath the redwoods… There is a $6 fee per car to drive into the woods but I prefer to walk. It’s free but I really love taking a walk through the trees. I like to walk, stop, sit down on a bench, and breathe. It’s such a peaceful atmosphere and cool and dark. I left cici in the car while I refreshed myself in the silence and majesty of the trees. Heaven on earth.
On Hwy l before Jenner and before it turns off to Guerneville, behind the Indian restaurant, the Sizzling Tandoor (food is passable), there is a road that leads to some paths. We drove and there were a lot of other people going there, too. I decided to walk her instead of following the crowd who obviously were going to a wedding.
On the way into the town of Guerneville, there is a school with a fenced area, almost like a park, and it was the weekend, so no kids there. I was able to let her go off leash for awhile. And simply had to stop in at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Mi Casita, on the way into town. They have the largest burritos and fresh salsa.
Bodega Bay Beaches To Take Your Dog (on a leash)
There is also Chanslor Stables where you can rent horses and ride along the beach, too. On the way from Bodega to Schoolhouse beach. The Sonoma coast is breathtaking.
After I moved from Bodega, I lived in Bolinas for the summer, and I used to take Hwy l from Bolinas up to Bodega Bay once a week to pick up my mail. It is a wonderful one hour drive along the water and alongside the trees. You go into Point Reyes Lighthouse National Seashore. I found it quite meditative. In places it is twisty and windy but not excessively. And there are so many wonderful beaches and places to visit including Dillon’s beach.
So many beautiful places to explore…
Further south, there is Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley, Sausalito… ahhhhhhh….
It’s funny since I lived 12+ years in Los Angeles, I had this attitude about northern California, that I didn’t like it, San Francisco reminds me too much of New York and I left there when I was 19. But the last 5-6 years exploring northern California has been amazing. And even more so when traveling with my dog. Starry starry nights…
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