California North Coast, Bodega Bay to Jenner and the Russian River (Part 1 of two parts)

The mouth of the Russian River, with Harbor Seal colony on sand spit, across river from Jenner

This is the old school in the town of Bodega (not Bodega Bay) that was used in filming of the 1963 film ‘The Birds’

From Stockton, the rugged North California coast, from Bodega Bay north to Jenner, is both easy to reach (about three hours) and offers some of the most stunning waterfront in the United States!

This piece of California offers impressive vistas, spectacular food, great camping options and wonderful places to stop for the night, if you are not into camping. Recently, we headed north with our Scotty teardrop trailer in tow. Bodega (the town is different than Bodega Bay), is just off Hwy 116, and is home to the old school where the 1963 Hitchcock classic ‘The Birds’ was filmed. 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 Wharf Restaurant for delicious breakfasts or lunches, and check out a myriad of state parks for tenting or trailering 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).

How to get there: We take Hwy 12 west out of Lodi, then go west on I-80, take Hwy 37, then Hwy 116 west through Petaluma. From Petaluma, take Washington Street to Bodega Avenue, to Valley Ford Road to connect with Hwy 1, and it takes you into Bodega Bay.  Do take the turnoff to the town of Bodega, about a mile off Hwy 1, to see the school where portions of the Hitchcock movie ‘The Birds’ was filmed.  Highway 1 continues north to Jenner. The total drive from Stockton to Bodega Bay and then north to Jenner is about three hours.

What’s nearby: Petaluma is the nearest large town, and gives you a chance to stock up on provisions if needed.  From Jenner, is one goes up the Russian River (a pretty drive), the town of Monte Rio and Guerneville are quaint and walkable places.

Where to eat, sleep: Both Bodega Bay and Jenner offer a number of places to both eat and stay overnight.  Favorite restaurants include River’s End in Jenner, and The Tides Wharf Restaurant in Bodega Bay.  Our favorite campground is Wright’s Beach State Park, with a number of campsites right on the Pacific shore.

For more information: For Bodega Bay,; for Jenner,

Coming Up: Later this week, we will take you south on Hwy 1 to the lovely town of Pt. Reyes Station, and onto the Pt. Reyes National Seashore!

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