Beyond the tip of the Point Reyes peninsula, the road curves around toward the coastal village of Bodega Bay, which supports a fishing fleet of around 300 boats. It's a good place to stop for lunch or a stroll. Despite the droves of tourists on summer weekends, Bodega Bay is mostly a working-class fishing town, where most locals start their day before dawn mending nets, rigging fishing poles, and talking shop. Several shops and galleries are interesting, but the best show in town -- especially for kids -- is at Tides Wharf, where the fishing boats dock, unload their catch, gut it, and pack it in ice.
Bodega Head State Park is a great vantage point for whale-watching during the migration from January to April. At Doran Beach, a large bird sanctuary is home to willets, curlews, godwits, and more. Next door, the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory (tel. 707/875-2211; www.bml.ucdavis.edu) conducts guided tours of its lab projects on Friday afternoons between 2 and 4pm (suggested donation is $2).
The Bodega Harbour Golf Links, at 21301 Heron Dr. (tel. 866/905-4657 or 707/875-3538; www.bodegaharbourgolf.com), is an 18-hole, seaside Scottish-style course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. A warm-up center and practice facility is free for registered golfers. Rates range from $60 with cart Monday through Thursday, $70 on Friday, and $90 on weekends. You can also ride horseback through spectacular scenery through Chanslor Ranch (tel. 707/875-2721; www.chanslor.com), which also has pony rides for kids. It's open daily from 9am to 5pm.
One of the bay's major events is the Fisherman's Festival in April. Local fishing boats, decked with ribbons and banners, sail out for a Blessing of the Fleet, while up to 25,000 landlubbers partake of music, a lamb-and-oyster barbecue, and an arts-and-crafts fair. For details about this festival and other events, consult the Bodega Bay Visitors Center, 850 Hwy. 1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923 (tel. 707/875-3866; www.bodegabay.com or www.visitsonomacoast.com). Open daily, it has lots of brochures, and maps of the Sonoma Coast State Beaches and the best fishing spots.
A few miles inland on Hwy. 1 (toward Petaluma) is the tiny town of Bodega (pop. 100), famous as the setting of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, filmed here in 1961. Fans will want to visit the Potter School House and St. Teresa's Church.
Hitchcock Haunt -- Alfred Hitchcock fans will want to make the pilgrimage to Bodega, off Hwy. 1 a few miles southeast of Bodega Bay. Drive past the roadside shops, turn the corner, look right, and voilà: a bird's-eye view of the hauntingly familiar Potter School House and St. Teresa's Church, both immortalized in Hitchcock's The Birds, filmed here in 1961.