Highway 1 on the Sonoma Coast is one of the most beautiful drives in California. There are many places to park the car and go for a hike, whether it be on the beach, on a cliff, or up in the hills.
Many locals love to go to Salmon Creek beach (free parking), and go for a stroll on the miles of beach that stretch from Mussel Point to Salmon Creek. I recommend parking in the lower parking lot, accessible by the street south of the Ranger Station. The Northern Salmon Creek parking lot is also a good place to park during the summer, but in the winter Salmon Creek creates a large problem for people trying to walk down south.
Another hiking area is Bodega Head, accessible by taking a left turn on Eastshore road. Follow this road and make a right onto Westshore, and then follow the road around the bay and continue up the hill.
Bodega Head is a great place to watch giant surf pound the rocks and cliffs, and provides a good view of Bodega Island and other sights. There are many nice paths along the cliffs, but be careful and do not fall. People have died at Bodega Head doing rock climbing or falling down the cliffs.
One of my favorite hikes starts at Shell Beach, which is located about 10 miles north of Bodega Bay on highway 1, and includes a nice 2-3 mile hike up and over the bluff to the Willow Creek Watershed and Pomo campground. The bluff is at a high elevation and is quite a hike, but the view is amazing, and the ocean always looks bigger from up above.
If you plan on heading south, Point Reyes National Seashore is a wonderful place to visit and hike, located about an hour south of Bodega Bay down highway 1. Point Reyes has miles of untouched beach, elk and other wildlife, and offers good surf to people who are brave enough to go into the sharky waters.
If you want to visit Bodega Bay but do not have a place to stay, contact http://luxurybodega.com and see if there is vacancy during the time you want to visit.
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