Bodega Bay – The Bay Area’s hidden gem for weekend getaways

Photo credit Robert Kaufman

As weekend getaways go, Bodega Bay doesn’t have the caché of Carmel, the affluent hippie vibe of Mendocino, or the international draw of wine country.  It’s actually not that far north of San Francisco as the crow flies, but it takes time to get there on single-lane roads. Because of its relative remoteness, Bodega Bay is somewhat stuck in time in the 1950’s and 60’s, and that is what makes it so attractive for those of us who return again and again.

The Food Scene

Nowadays, Bodega Bay is becoming a foodie destination because of its fabulously fresh food.  Terrapin Creek Cafe caused a sensation in the San Francisco Bay Area restaurant scene last October when this tiny, under-the-radar cafe earned a Michelin star.  But there’s more.  Bodega Bay is coastal town with a long fishing history, an industry which is celebrated every year at the Bodega Bay Fish Festival.  So what could be more appropriate to eat when in Bodega Bay?  The best fish ‘n’ chips and the best clam chowder!  Here are some suggestions for what and where to eat in Bodega Bay:

  • Best farm-to-table:  Terrapin Creek Cafe
  • Best retro dining:  Tides Restaurant, where Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was filmed
  • Best clam chowder:  Spud Point Crab Co., perennial winner of Sonoma County’s best clam chowder
  • Best all-in-one weekend:  The annual Bodega Bay Fish Festival features over 25 Sonoma wine producers and oodles of the best fish ‘n’ chips, BBQ oysters and clam chowder

Surf and Turf

A loving metaphor to one of the best links golf courses in the North Bay.  I love the Links at Bodega Harbour, a challenging but spectacular course to play where virtually all holes have a Pacific view.  In true links tradition, conditions change dramatically by the hour, by the day and season, so you never feel like you’re playing the same course twice.  I hit some of my best drives when the fog was as thick as pea soup, and the worst during clear but blustery days over the marshes (or should I say “in” the marshes).  It’s a public golf course and probably the best value links course in California.

Where to stay

The Bodega Bay Lodge or Inn at the Tides are both on the water and offer generous rooms and suites.

How to get there

From San Francisco, about 1-1/2 hours via the long but scenic route Highway 1 or take the 101 north exiting on the East Washington exit in Petaluma and follow the signs west for about 30 miles.

Upcoming events

The 42nd annual Bodega Bay Fish Festival takes place April 11-12, 2015 from 10 am to 5 pm.  Location:  Westside Park on Westshore Rd.   Here’s an orientation map.   Details,

Live music, crafts, food, beer and wine booths in operation both days, highlights include the wooden boat building and racing competition on Saturday and the blessing of the fleet on Sunday morning.