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 coastal destinations that are under two hours from downtown Santa Rosa.
- Bodega Bay – 40 minute drive
- Dillon Beach – 45 minute drive
- Jenner – 50 minute drive
- Muir Beach – 1:05 drive
- Point Reyes – 1:15 drive
- Bolinas – 1:15 drive
- Stinson Beach – 1:20 drive
- Sea Ranch – 1:45 drive
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, 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.
Goat Rock Beach from the Jenner side of Russian River
There are many excellent beaches on Point Reyes, too many to list here. See our map of the best beaches this national seashore has to offer.
Drakes Beach on Point Reyes
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.