10 May 2018
Dillon Beach is located just 4 miles off HWY 1 in Marin County California. This coastal village was settled in 1858 by George Dillon, an Irish immagrant. He fancied the area because how similar it was to his own fishing village back in Ireland. The hillside overlooking Dillon Beach is called the "Village". Apply named because the of smaller, quaint beach homes on tiny streets. The rest of Dillon Beach is called "Oceana Marin", a private community with large and striking beach homes.
Having been to Ireland I was quite struck at the similarities of our own Northern California coastline. Karyn and I would round a corner and often say, "Oh look...Dillon Beach or Bodega Bay!" and then kind of scream as we avoided the rock wall to our left and the mountain side to our right...lolol... Kind of funny when "home" follows you 1/2 way across the world...and you live to tell about it! Driving in Ireland is not for the faint of heart!
But I digress... Dillon Beach is surrounded by 1000's of acres of open spaces and farmlands. Once you land in Dillon Beach it's often hard to tear yourself away. Sitting on the beach...or deck of your Vacation Rental (www.DillonBeach.com) and watching surfers, kids flying kites, dogs playing on the beach and dolphins frolicking in the water, is mesmerizing. Look to the west for whale spouts. Grey Whales cruise through our area from Dec through March every year! BUT, if you want to go on an adventure here is a fun road-trip!
HWY 1 runs the entirety of California, but the Northern Ca. section is a STUNNER! Turn left out of the charming town of Tomales onto HWY 1. Don't miss the Tomales Bakery. (http://tomalesbakery.com/). Then head up the Northern California coastline. The first town you will encounter is Valley Ford (https://www.sonomacounty.com/cities/valley-ford). The surrounding land is home to dairy farms, rolling hills with oak trees, cows, sheep and deer. In the winter it feels as if you have landed in Ireland.
As you meander up the coast the next town you will come to is Bodega Bay. This area is teeming with "fresh off of the boat" seafood restaurants. The clam chowder and sour dough bread is to die for (https://www.yelp.com/c/bodega-bay-ca-us/restaurants). You will also find Salt Water Taffy places https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Salt+Water+Taffy&find_loc=Bodega+B...) and fabulous kite stores (http://www.candyandkites.com/).
You can also head to the famous school and church location where Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" was filmed. (http://www.bodegabay.com/the-birds/)
As you drive further up the coast the views become even more staggering! Jenner is a great place to head inland! It is where the mouth of the Russian River meets the sea. Usually a lot of wildlife in this area...seals, marine birds, dolphins and our 2 local stars, Bald Eagles that have been known to snatch a fish right out of a seals mouth. (https://www.sonomacounty.com/cities/jenner)
As you wind your way along HWY 116 you will meander along the Russian River through rolling hills and open spaces. The first town you will encounter is Duncan Mills. (http://www.duncansmills.net/) It is a Fantastic place to stop and eat and walk the boardwalk paths through unique shops. When you leave Duncan Mills you will enter into our Coastal Redwoods.
Head further inland to the Town of Monte Rio.
Here you are at a cross roads. 7 miles further on HWY 116 you will be near Armstrong Woods (Muir Woods without the crowds). You can walk the easy trails of the valley floor or hike up into the redwood forest. (https://www.sonomacounty.com/articles/armstrong-redwoods) You will also pass through Guerneville, a town filled with fun shops and great food! ( https://www.sonomacounty.com/cities/guerneville)
To head back to Dillon Beach
Turn right at the Historic Monte Rio Movie Theater ( http://www.riotheater.com/) and climb to the top of coastal redwoods driving the STUNNING, Redwood laden Bohemian Hwy to Occidental CA., famous for its art stores and tasty food. It is like stepping into the past. (https://www.sonomacounty.com/cities/occidental) . While in Occidental we recommend you stop at Hand Goods. A great art gallery with local wares. (https://www.handgoodsoccidental.com/)
As you return to Dillon Beach you will follow the Bohemian Hwy back to Bodega Ave. But before you head home we suggest 1 or 2 more stops.
In the Town of Freestone you will come across the Wild Flour Bakery (http://www.wildflourbread.com/) NOT to be missed! Unique fresh scones and breads...don't worry, the lines move fast. And bring cash, they don't take credit cards.
And last but not least, maybe treating yourself to a wonderful massage is just what the Dr. ordered...Welcome to the world renowned spa, Osmosis (https://www.osmosis.com/)...Call ahead to make a reservation. They are usually booked.
From Freestone you take Bodega Ave back to Freestone Rd and then on to Dillon Beach.
Whew! That is quite the day trip and the perfect way to immerse yourself in this area.
The entire trip is about 2.5 hours without making any stops. We highly suggest you stop and smell the roses whilst you make your way through this amazing area.