As you head west along Bodega Highway five miles past Freestone, you will find yourself in a pastoral expanse of coastal northern California. As the road gently slopes down to the valley, the speed limit drops to 25 mph and warmly greeting you is the well painted, brightly colored “Welcome to Bodega” sign. The surrounding Victorian architecture suggests a diverse and interesting past.
First discovered in 1775 when Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra sailed into the harbor, Bodega has a rich history. Just south of Bodega Bay, lies the town of Bodega, historically known as Bodega Corners. Bodega got its official start in 1853 when George Robinson opened a saloon. Later in 1854, Stephen Smith was the inaugural postmaster of Bodega Corners post office. The population then expanded and included farmers, dairymen, and merchants. Its location on the coast and the forest made it ideal for commerce. Late twentieth-century fame came to town with the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. The town’s charm lent itself to Hitchcock’s macabre interpretation of its bucolic bliss.
Fast forward to 2019, and spanning only two city blocks, it would be easy to cruise on through; but you would be missing this little hamlet with its eclectic populous of artists, surfers, and ranchers. Colleen’s Organic Coffee Shop, Northern Lights Surf Shop, The Bodega Country Corner Store, and the Casino restaurant all nestled among galleries with cedar-shingled facades. It’s idyllic in its coastal simplicity. Yet those halcyon days of yore still resonate. Cars with surfboards strapped on top parked roadside. Lots of tanned folks in flip flops on the front porch of the surf shop chatting about the day’s conditions, and locals in the coffee shop catching up about their long-lost high school friends. This is a community and a friendly one. It’s a taste of Northern California that reminds us we are all surfing the cosmic wave.
Most galleries are open Friday through Sunday. The Casino restaurant puts together a killer weekend menu and the surf shop has something for everyone to enjoy the coast, a mere 10 minutes north on Route 1. Bodega is worth a stop. Grab snacks for the coast or something groovy from Northern Lights. Taking a few minutes out to step back to a simpler time in this gem of a town is worth it, dude!