We spent five days in Sonoma and rented a 1 bedroom, 1 bath cottage on Chalk Hill Road near Healdsburg, CA as our home base to explore the region. I’ll detail our wine tastings (with an exciting celebrity sighting!) and eateries in a separate post but wanted to share some of the nature exploring we did during our visit as well.
We arrived on a Wednesday and spent the next two days hitting the wine trails pretty hard. After two days of straight-on wine tasting, my body and my liver needed a break (and I won’t lie, the 3rd day I woke up with a sore head so I knew it was time for a change of pace). I had heard about the coastal town of Bodega Bay from a friend and it was only an hour away so we hit the road.
First, we drove through the smaller, inland town of Bodega. These buildings may look familiar if you are an Alfred Hitchcock fan as this is where he filmed The Birds.
The church and schoolhouse are the scene where the crows attack the schoolchildren. The old schoolhouse is now a private residence so you aren’t allowed on the property but I got some pictures from the car.
Then we headed to Bodega Bay which is right on the ocean. We went to the far end of the bay called “Spud Point” and had lunch at a small fish-n-chips (and bait) shop where we had Clam Chowder and their signature dish at the old formica counter. The food was delicious and incredibly filling. There is a restaurant called the Spud Point Crab Shack but it had a line a mile long and, honestly, the food at this place next door was great and was made fresh for every order.
Unfortunately, I started feeling a little queasy after I ate (thanks, hangover) but I managed to rally and we headed to the rocky point called Bodega Head to see the coastline. The cool breeze and salty ocean air up there made me feel much better.
This is a big spot for whale watching and we always scanned the horizon while we walked around but never spotted anything. We continued our hike up to a few overlooks and admired the view and the rocky coastline, which was stunning.
Two days later we decided to do another nature stop and drove a half hour to see the redwoods at Armstrong State Park.
Most people are probably more familiar with Muir Woods but this grove of ancient California redwoods was stunning and the trails were easy and well-marked. We walked for over an hour admiring the massive trees.
The tallest tree in the grove is called the Parson Jones and is 310 feet high. I couldn’t even get close to getting the whole thing in my camera shot.
This is also very close to the area where they filmed Return of the Jedi (remember the bike chase scene with Princess Leia and the ewoks?). One thing to know is that it was much cooler in the forest than it was in the nearby town by a good 15-20 degrees. I had to borrow Steve’s hat because I was freezing.
We strolled around the nearby town of Guerneville after the woods but there wasn’t much to see there and everything was closed for New Years Day anyway. If you are in Sonoma and want to do something other than swilling wine, I highly recommend both of these options as they are gorgeous and the drive to both is very scenic and there are many cute towns along the way.