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Best Beaches Near Santa Rosa ? – Bodega Bay Beaches & More on the Sonoma Coast

Last Updated on: 30th December 2022, 09:20 pm

Santa Rosa may be an inland city, but that just means you have even more beaches easily within reach! Bodega Bay beaches, Russian River beaches, and the Point Reyes National Seashore are all accessible and perfect for a relaxing day trip.

You’ll find dozens of gorgeous beaches near Santa Rosa, most of them in the Russian River area or around Bodega Bay. There are also several nearby Marin County beaches worth visiting. With its rugged coastline, Central California coastal beaches are among the state’s most beautiful with secluded coves, breathtaking cliffs, golden sand beaches, and dramatic, rocky coasts.

Before we get to the list of Santa Rosa beaches, you may find it helpful to know just how far away they are. All the beaches on this list are within two hours of downtown Santa Rosa. Here’s a general guideline:

  • Bodega Bay, Sonoma County – 40 minutes
  • Dillon Beach, Sonoma County – 45 minutes
  • Jenner, Sonoma County – 50 minutes
  • Muir Beach, Marin County – One hour
  • Point Reyes, Marin County – One hour, 15 minutes
  • Bolinas, Marin County – One hour, 15 minutes
  • Stinson Beach, Marin County – One hour, 20 minutes
  • Sea Ranch, Sonoma County – One hour, 45 minutes

Table of Contents

Best Beaches in Sonoma County

There are 55 miles of Sonoma County shoreline dotted with picturesque villages and some of the most scenic beaches on PCH. Here are the best Sonoma County beaches close to Santa Barbara.

Blind Beach (Sonoma Coast State Park) – Dog Friendly Sonoma County Beach with Amazing Views

  • Known for: Arch Rock views, quiet, dog-friendly
  • Amenities: Restrooms

Blind Beach in Sonoma County, part of Sonoma Coast State Park, offers some of the best views of all beaches in Sonoma County. This quiet beach is a narrow pebble strip with a perfect view of Arch Rock. It’s almost never crowded so you can enjoy hearing the waves crash against the rocks. It’s even pet-friendly with dogs allowed on a leash.

You’ll find an upper parking lot but it requires descending a steep trail. You can also park at Goat Rock and walk south to Blind Beach.


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Goat Rock Beach (Sonoma Coast State Park) – Picturesque Sonoma Coast Beach for Wildlife Viewing

  • Known for: Birdwatching, whale watching, and seals
  • Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables

Goat Rock Beach is the most accessible Sonoma Coast beach in the state park. Located at the mouth of the Russian River, it’s one of the best places to spot wildlife including gulls and sandpipers, breaching whales, and the colony of Pacific Harbor seals which have pups here in the summer.

Note that dogs are not allowed on Goat Rock Beach.

Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach (Healdsburg) – Safe, Fun Sonoma Beach on Russian River with Family-Friendly Activities

  • Known for: Family-friendly, Russian River activities
  • Amenities: Lifeguards, free loaner life vests, restrooms, fountains, outdoor showers, picnic area, accessible parking

Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach is one of the most popular Russian River beaches and a great place to visit with kids. Enjoy Russian River access for wading, paddling, swimming, and floating with lifeguards on duty and free life vests to borrow during the summer. Be aware that it’s usually packed during the summer weekends and parking can be hard to find.

The park is just south of the Healdsburg Memorial Bridge just 15 minutes outside Santa Rosa. Across the street, you’ll find canoe and kayak rentals and the iconic Amy’s Wicked Slush with fun slushy and ice cream combinations.


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Schoolhouse Beach (Bodega Bay) – Best Beach in Bodega Bay for Beachcombing

  • Known for: Tide pools, seashells, cliffs
  • Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables

Schoolhouse Beach is one of the best beaches in Bodega Bay for iconic views, beachcombing, and tide pools. Popular with families, this wide beach between the Russian River and Bodega Bay is backed by dramatic cliffs and great to explore at nearly any tide level.

Kids and adults alike love exploring this pebble beach, especially at low tide, to hunt for bright, polished stones and seashells. Explore the tide pools to see mussels, sea anemones, hermit crabs, and starfish up close.

You’ll find Schoolhouse Beach parking off Highway 1 in Carmet. Be aware that swimming is not safe here – the water is very cold and rip currents are dangerous. Fishing is allowed, but usually isn’t safe at high tide. No dogs are allowed at Schoolhouse Beach.

Doran Beach Regional Park (Bodega Bay) – Activity-Packed Sonoma Beach for Couples, Families & Animal Lovers

  • Known for: Horseback riding, dog-friendly, fishing, bird watching, swimming, kayaking, surfing, kite flying, camping, hiking, swimming
  • Amenities: Campsites, restrooms, boat launch, fish cleaning station, boat rinsing station

This two-mile stretch of sandy shoreline is one of the most visited beaches in Bodega Bay. Nearly anyone can find something to love at Doran Beach Regional Park. Animal lovers can enjoy horseback riding and bird watching or bring their four-legged friend. Doran Beach is one of the best dog-friendly Bodega Bay beaches, although your pup needs to be on a leash.

The long stretch of golden sand is perfect for building sand castles, having a picnic, or flying a kite. There are over 120 campsites for a fun overnight adventure with a boat launch to access Bodega Bay and Bodega Harbor for kite surfing, kayaking, and sport fishing. You’ll even find miles of trails to explore.

Thanks to the calm waters at Doran Beach, it’s one of the best Sonoma County beaches for swimming!


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Salmon Creek State Beach (Bodega Bay) – Popular Bodega Bay Surfing Spot

  • Known for: Surfing
  • Amenities: Hiking trails, campsites, picnic areas

Most Sonoma County beaches don’t offer the best surfing, but there are a few great spots with an avid community of surfers. Salmon Creek Beach is one of them. With ideal conditions, you’ll get big swells, but the less intense waves on normal days are still great for beginners.

Johnson’s Beach (Guerneville) – Russian River Beach Near Bodega Bay for River Floats & Kayaking

  • Known for: Kayaking, paddling, river floats
  • Amenities: Boat launch; inner tubes, pedal boats, kayaks, and canoes for rent; beach chairs and umbrellas; summer snack bar; boathouse serving alcohol

Johnson’s Beach has been a summer tradition for almost a century! Located right on Russian River in the heart of Guerneville, visitors and locals alike love spending summers floating down the river at Johnson’s Beach. Show up with an inner tube or floatie and a cold drink, try paddle boarding, take a pedal boat down the river, or enjoy kayaking all summer long.


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Monte Rio Beach (Monte Rio) – Russian River Beach with Tons of Activities on Land

  • Known for: Water sports, volleyball, horseshoes, barbecuing
  • Amenities: Boat ramp, kayak and boat rentals, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, built-in barbecue pits, picnic tables

Monte Rio Beach is one of the most unique Sonoma beaches and a fun family-friendly destination. The largest public beach on the lower Russian River, you’ll find plenty to do on land and water. Rent a kayak, canoe, or boat, enjoy concessions including ice cream, and spend the day barbecuing with the family. Kids and adults can enjoy free horseshoe pits and volleyball courts!

Monte Rio is one of the best Sonoma County beaches for enjoying the quintessential summer experience between the redwood trees and river.

Sea Ranch Beaches (The Sea Ranch) – Secluded Sonoma County Beaches with Dramatic Views and Picturesque Trails

  • Known for: Views, whale watching, waterfalls, fishing, sea lions
  • Amenities: Restrooms, trails

The Sea Ranch is a private community along the Sonoma coast, but there are six public trailheads to access some of the most magnificent PCH beaches. The five Sea Ranch beaches to explore are:

  • Shell Beach accessed via the 0.65-mile one-way trail through a meadow and pine trees. There’s a boat ramp for small boats. Shell Beach is one of the most fun Sonoma Coast beaches for beachcombers with a wide, sandy coast, tide pools, and smooth sea rocks.
  • Stengel Beach accessed via the 0.12-mile one-way trail along cypress trees to a wooden staircase. This small cove, surrounded by bluffs, offers dramatic views of the waves crashing against the rocks. There are also small waterfalls that crash to the beach below.
  • Pebble Beach accessed via a 0.27-mile one-way trail through the pines and meadows and down wooden stairs. Pebble Beach features a secluded, sandy cove dotted with tide pools.
  • Black Point Beach accessed via a 0.25-mile one-way trail that crosses the bluff and a steep staircase. This curving beach is just past the Black Point cape. It’s one of the most popular Sonoma Coast surfing spots. It gets its name from the dramatic black sand shoreline.
  • Walk on Beach accessed via a 0.25-mile one-way trail through Monterey cypress trees. You’ll need to walk down a bluff-top staircase to this small beach.


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Gualala Point Regional Park (Gualala) – Family-Friendly Sonoma Coast Beach with Hiking, Redwood Trees, and Camping

  • Known for: fishing, seashells, hiking, camping
  • Amenities: Campsites, hiking trails, restrooms, showers, outdoor games, fish cleaning station, picnic area, playground

Gualala Point Regional Park is actually in southern Mendocino County, but it’s close to Sonoma County and on the way to other Sonoma County beaches from Santa Rosa. Located right where the Gualala River meets the Pacific, Gualala Point boasts a beautiful expanse of sandy dunes and sparkling white sand beach.

You’ll see families building driftwood castles, sunbathing, and hiking the many trails along the river, redwood grove, and the Bluff Trail. The campground at the park is a fantastic getaway. It’s walking distance to the ocean and right alongside the river and redwoods.


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Best Beaches in Marin County

Marin County beaches are a bit of a drive from Santa Rosa, but they’re well worth visiting and many are still under two hours away. If you’re coming from the Napa Valley area, these are the closest Napa beaches for sandy shores.

Point Reyes National Seashore (Point Reyes Station) – Remote & Scenic Marin Beaches for Dramatic Views & Wildlife Sightings

  • Known for: Remote beaches, seashells, dramatic views
  • Amenities: Free parking, restrooms, picnic tables, scenic overlooks, visitor center

Point Reyes National Seashore in Western Marin County is home to over 30 named beaches. Some are easily accessible from a parking lot, but others require a long hike. There are even beaches on Tomales Bay that can only be accessed by kayak or boat.

Many California coast beaches have harbor seals and sea lions, but Point Reyes National Seashore is home to a large population of northern elephant seals along with California sea lions, Stellar sea lions, northern fur seals, and harbor seals. Many areas of the seashore, including Drakes Beach, are closed to the public during the winter to protect elephant seals during pupping season.

Point Reyes South Beach, often called the Great Beach, is one of the top beaches to see along the national seashore. This 11-mile beach is a fun destination for beachcombing. The remote Drakes Beach requires a long but scenic drive that’s definitely worth it. Climb to the Peter Behr Overlook from the parking lot for fantastic views of the beach and bay then head to the protected beach which offers mellow surf that allows for stand-up paddleboarding and wading. Chimney Rock is another great stop to see the seals. Nearby is the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Muir Beach (Golden Gate National Recreation Area) – One of the Best Beaches Near Santa Rosa for Scenic Overlook Views

  • Known for: Lagoon, wetlands, hiking, scenic overlook, dog-friendly
  • Amenities: Fire rings, accessible restrooms and parking, accessible beach trail, picnic tables, trails, scenic overlook

Muir Beach is one of the most iconic Marin County beaches thanks to the Muir Beach Overlook. When the weather is clear, you’ll want to make the walk to the overlook for sweeping views of the beach, lagoons, and wetlands below. It’s one of the best spots on the coast to spot whales as they migrate during the winter.

Muir Beach offers unique scenery thanks to Redwood Creek which forms a lagoon, wetlands, and ponds as it reaches the shore. You’ll find hiking trails from the beach to explore headlands and even make your way to Pirates Cove, a small hidden beach. Note that the cove in the northern section of Muir Beach, Little Beach, is sometimes a clothing-optional area.

Every autumn, the Muir Beach area is the winter home to thousands of monarch butterflies. You can spot them in the grove of Monterey pines at the beach!

Muir Beach and the rest of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the top beaches near Napa and Santa Rosa: it’s about one hour from both cities.

Stinson Beach (Golden Gate National Recreation Area) – Fun White Sand Beach for Beachcombers

  • Known for: Seashells, dog-friendly section, cleanliness, fishing, surfing
  • Amenities: Lifeguards, restrooms, showers, swimming area, summer snack bar

Also part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Stinson Beach is a large Marin County beach popular for beachcombing, especially during low tide in the morning and during the winter. During the summer, it’s often packed and finding parking can be challenging.

Stinson Beach is best for beachcombing, surfing, and enjoying the scenery; it’s usually foggy and the water is frigid. However, the sand is soft and it’s one of the cleanest beaches in California. It’s a popular surf spot during the spring and winter with summer surf that’s best for bodyboarding and rafting.

Only a portion of Stinson Beach is part of the national park. Dogs are not allowed on this section, but they are allowed on Upton Beach, a dog-friendly county beach to the north. The south end is known as Red Rock Beach, a clothing-optional area.

Bolinas Beach (Bolinas) – Sandy Marin County Beach for Surfing and Dog Walking

  • Known for: Surfing, lagoon, dog-friendly
  • Amenities: Restrooms, tennis court, off-leash dogs allowed

The small community of Bolinas is home to Bolinas Beach, sometimes called Brighton Beach. While parking can be tricky unless you get here early, you’ll love this quiet stretch of beach known for its great surfing for beginners with waves that roll in gently from the Bolinas Lagoon. Dog owners love Bolinas Beach as well-behaved dogs are allowed off-leash.

Map of Beaches Near Santa Rosa

With so many amazing Marin and Sonoma County beaches within reach, it’s easy to see the appeal of living in the Santa Rosa area! Are you ready to stop being a visitor and settle down in the area? Give us a call at Mentors Moving & Storage for a free moving estimate today!


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