For a coastal escape head to Jenner in northern California. Roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers southwest of Sonoma County, this tiny seaside town is situated along the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Russian River. It boasts uncrowded beaches and miles of trails in a serene setting. If you are looking to sit back, unplug, and recharge then Jenner is the place for you.
It’s hard to imagine that just a short drive away from the bustling metropolis of San Francisco lies this quiet town where oftentimes the most exciting thing to do is to watch the rolling waves. This is not to say, however, that there aren’t options. In fact, plenty of local flora and fauna call Jenner home, including seabirds, whales, and seals, some of which can be seen during a picnic on the beach.
For a more active getaway consider renting a kayak to paddle along the Jenner coastline, or drive a few miles north to the Jenner Headlands Preserve for an inland hike with views of the ocean. And you can’t go wrong with grabbing a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants before settling down with a book or a glass of wine.
Things to know before you go
- Pack warm layers (even in summer) as temperatures cool down in the evening.
- Wear comfortable clothes and bring snacks and water before embarking on your hiking adventure.
- Don’t touch the wildlife, even if it approaches you, on land or sea.
- This is a great destination for those looking to enjoy some rugged time away in nature.
How to get there
Jenner is an approximately 90-minute drive from San Francisco along Highway 1. For beach access take Goat Rock Road, and if you are low on gas top off in Jenner before going for a drive as gas stations can be far and few between. There are also bus connections from Santa Rosa.
When to get there
There’s no wrong time of year to visit the Sonoma coastline, however, the warmest and sunniest months to explore are July and August. In addition, Pacific harbor seals use many of Jenner’s beaches as breeding and pupping grounds during the summer.
Things to Do Near Jenner
A quick drive south puts you in the quaint coastal town of Bodega Bay. Slightly larger than Jenner, though no less charming, Bodega Bay is another natural escape with fresh seafood restaurants, whale-watching trips, and Sonoma Coast State Park where you can hike, horseback ride, and paddleboard or kayak. Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1963 thriller The Birds was partially filmed in Bodega Bay too.
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