Spanish noun

a woman who is very knowledgeable about an activity, subject, or pastime. a connoisseur, expert, specialist, cognoscente, an enthusiast.


Portuguese Beach in Bodega Bay


This is part two of our Northern California Coastal Road Trip Guide. With Part One, we started out in Cambria and headed north through Big Sur, ending in West Marin. Part two picks up where we left off, continuing up through Bodega Bay, and as far north as Mendocino and the Lost Coast. The drive is a scenic route that takes you through some of the most picturesque landscapes in Northern California. Winding your way up the coast, you'll pass through quaint fishing villages, rolling hills dotted with vineyards, and rugged cliffs that drop down to meet the Pacific Ocean. There are many opportunities along the way to stop at state parks, lighthouses, and other landmarks that offer breathtaking views of the coast and beyond. As you journey further north, the landscape becomes more wild and severe, with hidden coves, secluded beaches, and dense old-growth forests. The journey culminates with our final stop, the Lost Coast, an isolated stretch of coastline that has remained largely untouched and unspoiled, providing a rare glimpse into the natural beauty of California. Many towns along the Northern California coast have been fairly well-preserved since the 1800s due to a combination of factors. With its rich history of fishing and agriculture, rocky coastline and challenging terrain, large scale development has been largely limited. Its proximity to San Francisco and Silicon Valley has allowed it to benefit from tourism and investment, providing support for the efforts of local organizations and historical societies that work to protect and preserve the region's heritage. The untouched character of Northern California's coastal towns makes each a unique and rare treasure; it is a place unlike anywhere else in the world. The area holds a special place in my heart, and I hope you will soon get a chance to experience it for yourself!


*Click on the underlined links for additional info on each place below.



Portuguese Beach - Beautiful long, wide sandy beach with dramatic, rocky headlands.

Chanslor Stables - Fabulous stables offering trail rides and guided horseback tours. 

Osmosis Spa - Take a dip in their incredible cedar bath, or experience a sound bath in the spa’s lush surrounding gardens.

Valley Ford Creamery - Chic, rustic spot with a cafe and market selling incredible house-made farmstead Italian cheeses and other culinary goodies.

Bodega Bay Oyster Company - The best spot for super fresh oysters with a great, family-run vibe.

Spud Point Crab Company - Classic old-school seafood eatery serving legendary Dungeness crab rolls.

Casino Bar & Grill - Extremely old-school, popular local watering-hole and dive.


The coastal trail around Timber Cove.


Timber Cove Resort - Serene, laidback hotel and resort with a delicious restaurant, Coast Kitchen, and incredible surrounding nature trails. 

River’s End - Cozy cottages and guest suites located right on the water. 

Jenner Inn - Quaint and comfortable with a rustic, elegant vibe. 

Cafe Aquatica - Fabulous, funky cafe with a laidback vibe, live music and the best coffee in Jenner. 

Fort Ross Vineyard - For adventurous and discerning fans of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Fort Ross Vineyard is the closest to the Pacific Ocean in California.

Salt Point State Park - Excellent spot for hikes or a picnic with breathtaking, panoramic views and beautiful rocky, severe beaches.

Watertreks Eco-Tours - Kayak down the Russian River or explore the shoreline with a tour guide. 


Sea Ranch


The Sea Ranch Lodge - Iconic destination for any architecture aficionado, the Lodge is a cultural touchstone for the area, hosting a number community events and workshops. Stay in one of the gorgeous private homes or one of the newly renovated suites [ed. note - open Summer 2023], and be sure to check out their extremely chic cafe, restaurant and bar.

Rent the Moore Condo - An architectural masterpiece, the original residence of famed architect Charles Moore, can be rented starting at three nights. The home is considered in many ways to capture the essence of his legendary Sea Ranch Condominiums. 

Gualala Point Regional Park - Nearly three miles of trails along dramatic bluffs, grassy meadows, marshy estuaries and gnarled cypress groves that stretch along the coast and above the Gualala River.

Sea Ranch Chapel - Non-denominational hobbit-like hillside chapel with psychedelic architecture.

Unbeaten Path Tours and Yoga - Incredible private tour company where you can choose from an extensive range of offerings, including breath work, forest bathing, architectural and botanical tours. 


The lighthouse at Point Arena


Harbor House Inn - Understated and luxurious, with killer views and an excellent, two Michelin star restaurant worth a trip all its own.

The Inn at Newport Ranch - Beautifully renovated 100-year-old farmhouse surrounded by acres of old growth redwood forest with a range of offerings—from guided mushroom foraging to UTV tours. 

Little River Inn - Charming inn with an eighty year legacy located on dramatic seaside bluffs with a popular golf course. 

The Andiron - Retro chic style bungalows, charming and low key. 

St. Orres - Old-world hotel with wooden turrets, set on over fifty acres of incredible bucolic wilderness, with a restaurant and bar that’s fun for dinner.

The Stanford Inn - Rustic, comfortable guest suites with a wide range of on-site offerings, including Catch-A-Canoe, where you can rent an outrigger for the day and float down the Big River Estuary. 

Ledford House - Quaint French bistro in Albion, nice for dinner or a long leisurely lunch. 

Cafe Beaujolais - Housed in a Victorian farmhouse, the restaurant is surrounded by a large garden of antique roses and serves delicious, seasonally focused, produce forward classics. 

The Elk Store - Adorable small town general store that serves sandwiches, great for stopping by to pick up picnic provisions, wine and little gifts.

Point Arena Lighthouse - Ruggedly beautiful stretch of coastline with a towering 150-year-old light house you can tour inside. 

Glass Beach - Glittering with sea glass from a time when garbage was dumbed into a northern area of town, the beach is now a state park. 

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens - Wonderful nonprofit botanic garden dedicated to conserving local indigenous species, located on forty-seven acres of canyons, wetlands, bluffs, and closed-cone pine forest.

Ride Rail Bikes on the Skunk Train - A unique way to experience the area’s ancient redwood grove. You get to ride on motorized rail bikes that sit on top of the old railway tracks. Popular for a reason. 



Avenue of the Giants - Easily the most scenic drive of the area, the famous road passes through 51,222 acres of centuries-old redwood forest.

Redwood National Park - Explore miles of ancient redwood forests, vast prairies, and oak woodlands alike by camping or taking one of the park’s many hikes.

Lost Coast Trail - Famed fifty two mile trail that runs in two sections along the coast up to Black Sands Beach, which, as the name suggests, has beautiful dark black sand and striking views


As I mentioned in Part One, this is a recent edit, so please keep in mind these places are ever-changing. I always recommend speaking with locals and asking for their recommendations, as well as doing some exploring on your own. You never know what you might find! In putting together this guide, I drew on my own experiences, along with guidance from Yolo Intel, CN Traveler, Bon Traveler, and The New York Times. As far as timing goes, winter is one of my favorite times of year to visit, as is spring, when everything gets outrageously verdant after a season of rain. I hope this guide makes planning out your trip a little bit easier, and that you'll be on your way in no time!