This fall and winter, explore the rugged splendors of Sonoma County's coast. We line up three perfect days.
The setting for a getaway at Sea Ranch Lodge is among the most picturesque in North America.
The roughly 100 miles stretching between San Francisco and Sea Ranch reveal some of the most striking vistas and scenic accommodations on Highway 1. We’ve curated a weekend road trip highlighting the stars of the Sonoma Coast, along with one of the best-kept secrets in Marin County.
The natural hues and wood elements in rooms and public spaces at Sea Ranch Lodge match the majesty of the Sonoma coast.
Day One: Sea Ranch Lodge
Wake up at The Sea Ranch Lodge (thesearanchlodge.com), a highly decorated design destination camouflaged within the larger Sea Ranch community. With its bold Barbara Stauffacher Solomon supergraphics emblazoned onto the hotel’s weathered wood siding, this iconic property reopened last summer after a multiyear revitalization, with 17 newly refreshed rooms appointed with binoculars and walking sticks. Hike amid the cypress hedgerows, breezy meadows and redwood forests, or explore the crashing waves and vibrant tidepools before a late morning visit to the Stewarts Point General Store. This local institution, family-owned and operated since 1881, offers fresh-baked goods in a nostalgic setting.
Endless views at Sea Ranch Lodge
After breakfast, follow the steep switchback roads up to Fort Ross Vineyard and Winery (fortrossvineyard.com), with its dramatic grape-strewn hills. Less than a mile from the coast, this is California’s closest vineyard to the ocean, and its South African owners, along with chef John Vong, recently introduced a seasonal tasting menu for guests designed to complement their unique estate-grown wines. Later, retreat to Sea Ranch for an in-room massage, or head to the bar for the locally inspired Del Mar cocktail (gin, grapefruit, honey and thyme). Dinner includes seasonal dishes in The Dining Room, with large picture windows overlooking the sea.
Day Two: Dillon Beach Resort
With a cup of freshly brewed Sea Ranch Coffee, watch the sunrise or partake in the lodge’s Saturday morning yoga practice before checking out and driving south. The family-owned Spud Point Crab Company (spudpointcrabco.com) in Bodega Bay, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year, is a favorite of locals, fishermen and visitors. Order the famed clam chowder or a smoked clam pizza at the nearby Gourmet Au Bay (gourmetaubay.com) restaurant before crossing into Marin County. There, you’ll find the quaint fishing village of Dillon Beach, home to only roughly 300 residents, along with the historic Dillon Beach Resort (dillonbeachresort.com). Proprietor Mike Goebel recently debuted 13 new tiny houses in partnership with the Oregon-based TruForm Tiny home builders. The modern, minimalist interiors boast vintage-style kitchen appliances, cozy sleeping lofts and black-and-white photos of surfers catching waves.
The cozy cottages of Dillon Beach Resort
The intimate, dog-friendly resort is a well-kept secret and local favorite for families, couples and solo travelers seeking a weekend escape just two hours from San Francisco. At the resort’s Coastal Kitchen, guests find an ever-changing menu curated around seasonal ingredients from Marin and Sonoma counties. And when the stars come out, end the day on a sweet note at Dillon Beach, where s’mores and fireside chats await.
Fort Ross Winery
Day Three: Kayaking, Oysters and Creameries
Though the resort’s well-appointed general store supplies everything needed for a day on the water (think surfboards, blankets and picnic provisions), plenty of adventures await. Book a tour of Tomales Bay with Blue Waters Kayaking (bluewaterskayaking.com) and observe the river otters, seals, leopard sharks and bat rays while paddling around Hog Island. Afterward, feast on farm-fresh oysters at The Marshall Store (themarshallstore.com) and seafood sandwiches prepared with bread from the family’s local bakery. Finally, end the day at Toluma Farms & Tomales Farmstead Creamery (tolumafarms.org), owned by David Jablons and Tamara Hicks. This renowned 160-acre goat and sheep dairy farm sits on the ancestral homeland of the Coast Miwoks and is available to visit for public and private tours; the team welcomes guests on the first Sunday of the month for a guided walking tour and tastings. The couple also launched SF’s first urban creamery, Daily Driver (dailydriver.com), in Dogpatch. Discover warm, wood-fired bagels smothered in pure, homemade cream cheese as a timeless taste of your trip to the Sonoma coast.
Photography by: ADAM POTTS; ADAM POTTS; ADAM POTTS; K BORRESON; COURTESY OF BRAND;