Bodega Bay is a small fishing village in Sonoma County, situated just 90 minutes’ north of San Francisco. There’s a peaceful, laid-back atmosphere in this community that attracts visitors from far and wide, particularly in the summer months.
It’s a popular spot for whale watching, hiking and enjoying the coastal scenery. It’s also a great area for sampling local produce.
Bodega Bay may be a small place, but knowing where to stay can still be difficult. That’s where our guide comes in: it’s packed full of all the information you’ll need to figure out what area of Bodega Bay is right for you, your trip and your budget. Let’s take a look!
Best Vacation Home in Bodega Bay: Spring Lily Cottage
This is one of those picture-perfect coastal cottages that seem to blend in perfectly with their surroundings. The interiors are mid-century modern style, with plenty of period features and modern pieces making for a chic and unique place to call your own for the weekend.
The cottage is tucked away on a hillside, and enjoys stunning views. The perks here include a hot tub, private patio, and a garden to relax in.
Best Cottage in Bodega Bay: Beautiful Cottage Overlooking Bodega Bay
A beautiful bungalow overlooking Bodega Bay, this property is stylishly designed with minimalist furnishings, wood beamed ceilings, white washed walls, and large windows with sea views.
There’s a wood-burning stove to keep you cosy on chilly evenings. Outdoors, there’s a charming private garden, and a deck to sit out on. Location-wise, it’s within walking distance to restaurants and eateries in the town.
Best Hotel in Bodega Bay: Inn at the Tides
A landmark building in the city, Basin Park Hotel dates back to 1905. The hotel’s historic credentials are visible throughout, with stylish antique furniture in the guest lounges and lobby, and cosy rooms that are quaintly decorated.
It’s also here that you’ll find The Balcony, one of Bodega Bay’s most famous eateries,. With its good views, and good food, it’s popular with guests and passing visitors alike.
Bodega Bay Town
Bodega Bay itself is a small coastal village located 90 minutes’ drive north of San Francisco. It’s an ideal spot for those who are seeking a countryside experience, surrounded by access to good seafood, good wine, and beautiful seaside vistas.
Situated north along the coast from Bodega Bay is the small coastal town of Jenner. A good alternative to staying in the village of Bodega Bay itself, the clifftop Jenner offers up a quiet and laid-back seaside retreat – complete with beautiful, unobstructed Pacific Ocean views and dramatic sunsets.
Seemingly worlds away from the coastal relaxation afforded at Jenner and Bodega Bay, is the small town of Guerneville. Situated inland, this town was founded in the 1850s as a logging town, later becoming a popular vacation spot for wealthy San Franciscans in the late 19th century.
3 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Bodega Bay
You may recognise the area from movies such as The Birds and The Goonies, which were partially filmed in Bodega Bay. Today, the Bay lures visitors from San Francisco, looking for a place to fish and enjoy a sunny getaway.
Accommodation in Bodega Bay Town comes in the form of charming cottages and historic hotels, all with captivating views out over the bay. It’s our top choice for anyone visiting Bodega Bay for the first time, as it’s a great location for getting to know the area.
Jenner has a more rugged scenery, and some absolutely stunning sunsets. It’s a small coastal town that sits at the mouth of the Russian River, and is ideal for families who want to spend quality time together. There are numerous opportunities to get out into nature, enjoying the beaches and exploring wildlife.
Guerneville is our top pick for those traveling on a budget. Situated around 30 minutes’ drive from Bodega Bay itself, this Sonoma County town is a great option to explore the area. With its range of accommodation, eateries and entertainment options, there’s tons of options to keep visitors fed and watered right on the doorstep of this fun town.
To help you figure out which one might be best for your trip to Bodega Bay, let’s look into the details of these areas…
Bodega Bay is a small coastal village located 90 minutes’ drive north of San Francisco. It’s an ideal spot for those who are seeking a countryside experience, and is surrounded by access to good seafood, good wine, and beautiful seaside vistas. Staying here makes for an easygoing vacation.
Bodega Bay Town is a working fishing town that attracts tourists looking for weekend getaways. It’s here that you’ll find art galleries, charming eateries, and Bodega Heads State Park. The park is a hotspot for whale watching during their migration period, from January to April.
Best Vacation Home in Bodega Bay: Spring Lily Cottage
One of the best things about this beautiful cottage are its amazing views. Perched up high above the town, from here you have almost a bird’s eye view out across the Pacific Ocean.
Packed full of 1930s charm, this place is cosy, stylish and comfortable. There’s a hot tub, a patio and an idyllic garden to kick back in.
Best Cottage in Bodega Bay: Beautiful Cottage Overlooking Bodega Bay
This Bodega Bay bungalow has a great location overlooking Bodega Harbour. It’s close to local shops and restaurants, as well as nearby hiking trails.
Inside the interiors are minimal and modern, with white washed walls and grey tiled floors, allowing the views out across the bay to take centre stage. Complete with a charming garden, there’s enough room to sleep four across this property’s two bedrooms.
Best Hotel in Bodega Bay Town: Inn at the Tides
Something of a landmark in the area, this hotel is the place to stay in Bodega Bay. Situated right on the waterfront itself and surrounded by nature, this hotel is a fantastic spot for a vacation. You’ll be greeted with beautiful views and spacious rooms.
The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, two restaurants, two restaurants, and a lounge bar which featured in the 1963 Hitchcock film, The Birds.
Things to See and Do in Bodega Bay Town
- Enjoy wine tasting at the Sonoma Coast Vineyards, complete with views out over the ocean
- Swing by the local art galleries, including Ren Brown Collection
- Spot birds from the picturesque Birdwalk Coastal Trail
- Grab your hiking boots and walk the Pinnacle Gulch Trail – a public hiking trail that winds through a gated community
- Visit the Sonoma Coast Visitor Center to learn more about the area and get some friendly local knowledge, too
- Eat tacos at The Birds Cafe, decked out in honour of Hitchcock’s movie
- Hike out onto Bodega Head itself; in the right season, this is a prime spot for whale watching
- Drop by Spud Point Crab Company for its famous clam chowder (and other seafood)
- Head to Doran Beach, a 2-mile long hotspot for kite flying and surfing
- Watch the local fishermen bring in the day’s catch at Tides Wharf
- Go on a Birds pilgrimage to find locations from the movie, including Potter School House and St. Teresa’s Church
#2 Jenner – Where to Stay in Bodega Bay for Families
Situated north along the coast from Bodega Bay is the small coastal town of Jenner. A good alternative to staying in the village of Bodega Bay itself, Jenner offers up a quiet and laid-back seaside retreat – complete with beautiful, unobstructed Pacific Ocean views and dramatic sunsets.
The area around Jenner is rich in nature, with Sonoma Coast State Park on the doorstep. Fittingly, the town is a good base for hiking, and you can enjoy beach combing and tide pooling galore along the shoreline. Its variety of accommodation options makes fitting into this friendly and rustic coastal community a breeze.
Best Holiday Home in Jenner: Erin Leigh By The Sea
With its scenic setting along the Russian River, this cottage in Jenner features wide sweeping ocean views and laid-back interiors. Nearby you can find beaches, hiking trails, and quaint eateries along the coast.
Inside its large windows and simple wood furnishings, all wrapped up in a coastal cottage aesthetic, allow for undistracted sea views. The outdoor deck is a prime spot for soaking up Jenner’s beautiful scenery.
Best Cabin in Jenner: The Viking House
This riverside house is a quiet and peaceful spot for your Sonoma County vacation. Situated along the river in Jenner, this cabin style holiday home comes complete with a spacious deck, and is an epic place for sundowners.
There’s enough room to sleep six people, with a spacious living area boasting comfy furnishings that allows for cosy nights-in spent around the fire. This cabin is a great option for families visiting the area.
Best Hotel in Jenner: Jenner Inn
This Jenner property overlooks the impressive Russian River, and is filled with charm. There are various tasteful rooms on offer, each individually decorated with different themes linking to the local area.
Guests can soak up the surroundings from their own private balcony, sitting by the fire in the lobby lounge, or dining in the onsite bar and restaurant. The bonus? A continental breakfast is included in the room rate.
Things to See and Do in Jenner
- Go for a delicious family meal at River’s End Restaurant & Inn and enjoy views of stunning sunsets
- Watch the seals play at Goat Rock State Beach
- Learn about local history at Jenner Visitors Center, situated in a former boathouse
- Swing by the restaurant at Jenner Inn for Sonoma County Wines, and enjoy a Jenner cheeseburger
- Enjoy the tasty freshly baked pastries at Cafe Aquatica
- Try out some more beachcombing at Blind Beach; the easy Kortum Trail connects this with Shell Beach
- Check out the boulders and rock formations at Sunset Boulders, a popular activity for families
- Explore the Jenner Headlands Preserve: 5,630 acres of prairies, redwoods and Douglas fir forests
- Shop for gifts at Jenner Sea Gifts & Wine, a small boutique with local crafts and produce.
- Behind the shop, stop off at Tasting by the Sea. There are around 30 wines to sample here.
- Catch sight of Russian River Bridge and the grassy cliff slopes from Russian River Vista Point
- Hike around Sonoma Coast State Park (try the six-mile Pomo Canyon Trail)
#3 Guerneville – Where to Stay in Bodega Bay on a Budget
Guerneville is seemingly worlds away from the coastal relaxation afforded at Jenner and Bodega Bay. This town was founded in the 1850s, and later became a popular vacation spot for wealthy San Franciscans.
Today, it’s a popular gay-friendly destination. Guerneville is also known for its wineries, and makes a fine base for exploring the redwood forests. It’s more inland than the other areas, making it more affordable area to stay as a result.
Best Cabin in Guerneville: Amazing Forest Treehouse
This treehouse accommodation in Guerneville offers up a relaxing place to unwind in the forest. It’s close to Downtown Guerneville, but far enough away to feel secluded and private.
It’s set among a quarter of an acre of woodlands and is a rustic, unpolished option to get away from it all. This treehouse is historic, too. Built in the 1930s out of redwood, it’s full of unique details.
Best Cottage in Guerneville: Tranquil Vacation Cottage
This tiny cottage in Guerneville is a great place to stay on a budget in Sonoma County. Featuring bright artwork and mid-century modern furnishings, it’s situated in woodlands and makes for a serene stay.
With its fairly spacious interiors and outdoor deck, there’s enough room for a family to spend a vacation here. It’s an easy stroll from here to the numerous restaurants of Downtown, as well as the banks of the Russian River.
Best Hotel in Guerneville: Cottages on River Road
As you can tell from the name, this Bodega Bay accommodation consists of contemporary cottages set along the Russian River. These cosy and modern cottages come complete with seating areas, comfortable beds and outdoor decks.
There’s a communal outdoor pool and a fire pit for toasting marshmallows. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast each morning.
Things to See and Do in Guerneville
- Grab breakfast at Big Bottom Market
- Chill out on the awesome Johnson’s Beach
- Enjoy a cold one? Sit out on the deck and try the small batch brews served up at Stumpton Brewery
- Take in the retro vibes as you stroll along Guerneville’s Main Street
- Go for casual food at the down-to-earth Betty Spaghetti
- Browse Guerneville 5 & 10 to find vintage and nostalgic candy and toys
- Sip on bubbly at one of the oldest champagne houses in the country, Korbel California Champagne Cellars…
- … And grab yourself a picnic from Korbel Delicatessen & Market next door
- Hit up Guerneville Bank Club, an ice parlour set inside a 1921 bank building
- Feel like partying? Head to Rainbow Cattle Company, which has been an LGBT staple in town since 1979
- Pick up a gift or souvenir at Forest to the Sea Nature Store
- Swing by The Farmhand for delicious deli fare; enjoy it on the deck overlooking the river
- Try out Californian cuisine at the hip Boon Eat + Drink
- Enjoy the live music at the lively Main Street Bistro & Piano Bar (the pizza is awesome)
Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Bodega Bay
Bodega Bay is a beautiful destination in California, with its dramatic shorelines, hiking trails and wildlife watching. This is truly the place to come if you need to reset and enjoy the finer things in life.
If it’s your first time, we’d definitely recommend making your base in Bodega Bay town itself. Relax in a beautiful coastal cottage such as Spring Lily Cottage, or Inn at the Tides hotel for a memorable stay.
Let us know your favourite Bodega Bay hotspots in the comments below!
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad, which is super handy.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple—just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.
Find out how YOU can support the site.
We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers (that’s you!). Please visit the link to find out how you can help keep the site going 🙂
For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a piece of gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only link to stuff that members of the Broke Backpacker team has actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support!