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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 coastal destinations that are under two hours from downtown Santa Rosa.


Bodega Bay

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

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

Point Reyes

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.

Muir Beach

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

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

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.

Sea Ranch

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.