Driving the two hours to Doran Beach Regional Park is very doable on a Friday evening, and worth it if you want to make the most of your weekend at this beachside haven.
The park, on the southeast side of scenic Bodega Bay, contains a string of tent and RV sites close enough to the bay to smell the salt but remain sheltered from the wind. A symphony of seals and sea lions makes a fantastic sonic backdrop for nights around the campfire.
Doran Beach and its neighboring regional parks contain a network of easy-to-moderate trails offering beautiful views of the coast. There’s also a busy crabbing scene on the camp beach each morning.
For more adventurous types, travel one hour south to Point Reyes National Seashore, an expansive park featuring Northern California’s best beachside hiking. Coming with a canine companion limits your options, but the 2-mile Kehoe Beach trail at the north of the park trail is fair game.
The flat trail winds through a sweeping meadow of lupines and sunflowers before dipping down to Kehoe Beach. The sandy stretch is peppered with crags, cliff caves and washed-up sea life just asking to be photographed.
If you’ve got a second day to spare, head north to Goat Rock Beach via Highway 1, which zigzags through the breathtaking Sonoma Coast State Park. Goat Rock is a popular spot for surfing, sunbathing and spectating – there’s a permanent colony of harbor seals at the north end.
If campfire food isn’t cutting it, take a jut across the bay to Spud Point Marina for some clam chowder from Spud Point Crab Company, longtime winner of the Bodega Bay Chowder Day competition.
Where: 210 Doran Beach Road, Bodega Bay
Directions (110 miles from Sacramento): Take Interstate 80 west to Highway 37 west. Go right on Highway 116 (Lakeville Road) to Highway 101 north. Exit Railroad Avenue, then right on Stony Point Road, left on Roblar Road and right on Valley Ford Road, which merges with Highway 1 north. Turn left onto Doran Beach Road.
Cost: $35 per night for an eight-person site, $7 for additional vehicles, $2 per night per dog (permitted on 6-foot leash)
Information: To reserve, call Sonoma County Regional Parks at (707) 875-3540