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Santa Rosa at about 175,000 residents is the largest city near the coast north of San Francisco. The wide valley that Santa Rosa occupies includes a number of towns that are popular with tourists including Sebastopol, Windsor, Healdsburg, and Petaluma. With all the expansive open spaces for hiking and wineries for wine tasting it is no wonder why Sonoma County draws in so many visitors. Well another reason is the picturesque coastline and fantastic sandy beaches.

Since Santa Rosa is an inland city it has quite a few options when looking for ocean beaches. Below is a list of the destinations that are under two hours from downtown Santa Rosa.

As you can see from this list, the closest beaches are in Bodega Bay. Luckily there are many excellent and varied strands in Bodega Bay. The best beaches (in our opinion) are Doran Beach, Bodega Head, Bodega Dunes, and Portuguese Beach.

Bodega Dunes Beach Bryce Sept2015 (16)Bodega Dunes, perfect for long beach walks

Dillon Beach in Marin County has a couple fine beaches that are easy to access (and one that is not). This tiny one store town is also a short drive from Santa Rosa.

Jenner has many incredible places to discover north and south of town. Some of the best include Wrights Beach, Goat Rock, and Russian Gulch.

IMG_0910 goat rock b jenner (Custom)Goat Rock Beach from the Jenner side of Russian River

The main beach in Muir Beach is superb. If you go, don’t miss the Muir Beach Overlook high up above the ocean waves.

There are many excellent beaches in Point Reyes. See our map of the best beaches this national seashore has to offer.

IMG_4639 drakes (Custom)Drakes Beach on Point Reyes

Bolinas is a hidden town with an attitude, but don’t let that scare you off. They have a wonderful beach right in town and one of the best tidepools in the country at Duxbury Reef.

Stinson Beach has one of the most popular beaches north of San Francisco. The parking lot sometimes fills up, but this is still a great beach and town to visit.

All of the beautiful beaches in Sea Ranch are hidden from the highway but are open to the public. Each has a separate parking lot with a trail leading to the beach. Black Point is the biggest beach, but they are all of the same high quality. Sea Ranch is a longer drive so consider making it a full day and having a meal in nearby Gualala before heading back to Santa Rosa.

Beaches on this map

  • IMG_2450 (Large)

    Bodega Head Beach

    Bodega Head is the prominent rocky point that protects Bodega Harbor from the west. This large point has a rugged coastline that is exposed to strong waves and cool damp […]

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  • Bodega Dunes Beach Bryce Sept2015 (16)

    Bodega Dunes

    Bodega Dunes is a large state park campground and coastal dunes structure in the town of Bodega Bay. The beach here is vast and remote so beachcombers will be delighted […]

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  • Doran Beach Bodega Bay Bryce Sept2015 (15)

    Doran Beach

    Doran Beach in Doran Regional Park is located along the spit at the entrance to Bodega Harbor from Bodega Bay. Doran Spit is a great place to view the bay, […]

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  • IMG_2390 (Large)

    Portuguese Beach

    Portuguese Beach is a long wide beach between Bodega Bay and the Russian River in Sonoma County. It’s one of the largest sandy beaches in the area. The main parking […]

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  • Sunset at Dillon Beach California

    Dillon Beach

    Dillon Beach on Bodega Bay is privately-owned by the Dillon Beach Resort, but for a small fee anyone can enjoy this beautiful beach. The beach is located in the small […]

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  • Lawsons Landing Dillon Beach Bryce Sept2015 (4)

    Lawson’s Landing Beach

    Lawson’s Landing is a privately-owned campground and resort on a wide sandy beach known as Sand Point at the entrance to Tomales Bay. The resort caters to tent and RV […]

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  • IMG_2321 (Large)

    Wrights Beach

    Wrights Beach is the largest sandy beach between Bodega Bay and the Russian River along in Sonoma County. It’s a great destination for day or overnight use. There is a […]

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  • IMG_1233 (Large)

    Goat Rock Beach

    Goat Rock Beach is located between Goat Rock Point and the Russian River along the Sonoma County shore near the town of Jenner. There are two parking lots for Goat […]

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  • Russian Gulch Sonoma Coast Bryce Sept2015 (10)

    Russian Gulch

    Russian Gulch is a pebbly beach in a deep cove where Russian Gulch Creek flows into the Pacific north of Jenner. It has high rocky headlands towering over both sides […]

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  • Ocean waves and rocks at Muir Beach California

    Muir Beach

    Muir Beach (the beach) is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area and located in the small town of Muir Beach, California. Redwood Creek flows down to the ocean here, […]

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  • IMG_4639 drakes  (Custom)

    Drakes Beach

    Drakes Beach is a remote beach in Point Reyes National Seashore that requires a long scenic drive to reach. There used to be a cafe at the beach (Drake’s Beach […]

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  • Limantour Beach

    Limantour Beach

    Limantour Beach is a south-facing beach on a sand spit between Drakes Bay and the Limantour Estero esturary. Limantour Beach has a nice large parking lot near the beach. Trails […]

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  • Kehoe B Bryce April2015 (14)

    Kehoe Beach

    Kehoe Beach is a secluded beach along the western face of Point Reyes National Seashore. You must hike down a valley on a dirt trail for a little over a […]

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  • IMG_5744 (Large)

    Bolinas Beach

    Bolinas Beach is a quiet public beach in the small town of Bolinas. It’s often called Brighton Beach because the main access road to the beach is Brighton Avenue. Parking […]

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  • Stinson Beach, California

    Stinson Beach

    Stinson Beach (the beach) is a large public beach within Golden Gate National Recreation Area located in the town of Stinson Beach, California. It’s a popular getaway just an hour […]

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  • Black Point Beach Sea Ranch Bryce Sept 2015 (12)

    Black Point Beach

    Black Point Beach is a public beach located in the Sea Ranch community. This wide cove is just north of Black Point Landing in the south part of Sea Ranch. […]

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