From Stockton, the N. California coast, from Bodega Bay north to Mendocino, is both easy to reach (about three hours) and offers some of the most stunning waterfront in the United States! We have been there several times, on both day trips, camping trips, even a few motel overnights.
This piece of California offers impressive vistas, spectacular food, great camping options and wonderful motels and hotels to stop for the night. Recently, we headed north with our Scotty teardrop in tow. Bodega (the town is different than Bodega Bay), is just off Hwy 116, and offers the old school from the 1963 Hitchcock classic film, 'The Birds'.
This cute little town is worth the short detour, for both the quaintness of the town and the cinematic history. Just six miles further, one comes to Bodega Bay, on the water, home to a variety of fine restaurants and several nearby beautiful campgrounds. Stop at the Tides Restaurant for delicious breakfasts or lunches, and check out a myriad of state parks for tenting or trailing options.
Our favorite, Wright's Beach State Park, between Bodega Bay and Jenner, is right on the ocean)! Heading north on Hwy 1, one soon crosses the languid Russian River and reaches the cute town of Jenner, where the Russian spills into the Pacific. Stop at River's End Restaurant for great food and stunning views; looking down from their deck above the river, a cadre of harbor seals usually is visible sunning themselves on a sandy spit near river's end (the restaurant offers a telescope for a closer view.
One soon reaches Ft. Ross, the old Russian outpost from the early 1800's, then you will pass through a host of cute coastal towns like Sea Ranch (stop at the Sea Ranch Lodge for breakfast or lunch), Gualala (Bones Roadhouse a fine lunch choice for BBQ or fish dishes, and Gualala County Regional Park just south of town, very pretty and secluded campsites), Point Arena (check out the Point Arena lighthouse, for stunning coastal views).
Further north, one passes through Manchester, then Elk, Albion, then Mendocino.
Mendocino is the quintessential California coastal town, with trendy shops and several restaurants - but don't miss Mendocino Headwaters State Park, just west of town for superb ocean views and rocky bluffs. If you are camping, Van Damme State Park is just south of the city, with secluded campsites in deep riparian forest, and Ocean beach just steps away, including kayak rentals! Ft. Bragg is just north, if you have time to extend your journey on the gorgeous California coast!
For additional travel destination inspiration, see my blog: http://blogs.eSanJoaquin.com/valleytravel; to contact me, [email protected]