Last Updated on March 23, 2024

What better way to catch up with old-school friends than on a wine-tasting trip?

My group of five classmates tested this idea over a long weekend in Sonoma County, the perfect destination for experiencing coastal California wine country. In addition to over 400 wineries, Sonoma County has beaches, redwood forests and quaint, small towns.

My friends live all around the U.S. and can only gather every few years. This year we decided to fly to San Francisco and then look for a vacation home within driving distance. We found few houses with enough bedrooms for all of us and decided on one that met both our needs and expectations.

The large vacation rental located just north of Bodega Bay offered stunning ocean views and was within reach of numerous wineries and activities.

By the time we shopped for groceries and hit the road in San Francisco, we landed in the afternoon rush hour which delayed our arrival at the house until after dark. However, the location was in a cul-de-sac, so it was not difficult to find the driveway and we easily located the lock box with the key.

Bodega Bay Oceanview Home 

View of ocean from large deck on Bodega Bay VRBO.
View of ocean from large deck on Bodega Bay VRBO. Photo by Judy Karnia

We entered the lower level of the Bodega Bay vacation home to a polished wooden staircase and a welcome medallion on the wall before walking up to a spacious living area with A-frame ceilings. One entire wall consisted of floor-to-ceiling windows with ocean views. Wide-planked floors extended into the master bedroom and were so smooth that I couldn’t resist walking around barefoot the whole stay, even if it was a bit chilly.

A long leather couch in the living room faced a riverstone fireplace. This gathering spot in front of the fireplace held plenty of seating with two leather chairs, two rattan chairs and a large leather coffee table with four stools.

Loved the Kitchen for Cooking and Chatting

The fully equipped kitchen sported rich grey and gold granite countertops and backsplash. One of my friends loves to cook and the kitchen had everything she needed to prepare elaborate dinners each night for the group. The rest of us perched on stools surrounding the island watching her, drinking wine, reminiscing about school and sharing stories from our veterinary practices.

We then settled into the 10-seat dining room to continue our chatting and sip on wine as we enjoyed our friend’s amazing culinary creations.

The wall of windows in the common area included doors opening to a wide terrace that extended the length of the house. The weather was chilly with high winds during most of our visit, so we were not able to sit outside to enjoy the ocean vistas and surrounding grassy hills. We did however enjoy a gorgeous sunrise and seeing cows grazing a hundred yards away on the rise.

I would love to return when we could spend the day relaxing in the sun on this incredible patio edged by glass panels.

Bodega Bay vacation rental kitchen and dining area.
Bodega Bay vacation rental kitchen and dining area. Photo by Judy Karnia

Another fireplace is included in the master bedroom next to the living area and from the two leather chairs in front of the fire, you could gaze at the seaside. The large master bath contained a jacuzzi tub, a walk-in shower with two shower heads and a double sink, all set in slate tile.

A media room just off the main area contained a pull-out sofa and a private bath. On the lower level, three bedrooms featured simple but elegant décor. The beds were very comfortable and there was plenty of drawer space to unpack suitcases.

Each room offered a sliding door with a small outdoor patio with chairs and natural landscaping. One bathroom on this floor contained double sinks and several drawers as well as a separate toilet and shower room. A laundry room, also located on this level, would be perfect to use for longer stays and post-beach visits.

Book your stay in this Sonoma County vacation rental with ocean views!

Privacy and Proximity

View of surrounding hills from Bodega Bay vacation home.
View of surrounding hills from Bodega Bay vacation home.

The neighborhood consisted of homes spaced out well enough to provide privacy and quiet. We even spotted wild turkeys and a few jackrabbits during our stay.

Portuguese Beach can be reached by walking a few blocks or by a quick car drive. We parked along the road and climbed down to the beach to watch the crashing waves.

The location of the house also provided us with easy access to many activities and restaurants. On our first day, we drove northeast for about an hour for wine tasting. Foley Family Wines has nine wineries in the area, including Ferrari-Carano, an elegant Italianate building with a fountain and a tranquil garden to stroll. We also visited Lancaster Estate and had a very informative tour and wine tasting in their fascinating cave.

Through a steady drizzle, we walked among the soaring trees of the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Pioneer Nature Trail provided an easy hike to a waterfall as we passed two massive redwoods 1,300-years-old and over 300-feet-tall along with seeing a huge banana slugs, and a 12-foot-tall root ball that offered the perfect backdrop for a group photo.

Each day, we stopped for a wonderful lunch at local restaurants. Corner Project Ales & Eats in Geyserville has a small rotating menu that takes advantage of local, seasonal ingredients. Baked on the River in Guerneville combines an intimate dining room with interesting menu items and neighborly service. At Howard Station Café in Occidental, many breakfast items are available for lunch as well as sandwiches, burgers and salads. The cafe is a great break from shopping at the delightful boutiques up and down the street.

Renting a house along the coast in Sonoma County proved to be the ideal place for my group.

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