Explore and Experience The Sea Ranch and Abalone Bay!
Explore and experience is an essential part of any great vacation among today’s vacationing nomads. We include things to do for the modern-day explorer, an experience seeker, a life lover, and a modern, digital nomad looking for new adventures. The Sea Ranch is a great location for you, and Abalone Bay the perfect vantage point for your exploration of the Mendonoma region.
The information found on this page and within our “Explore” tab will serve as your guide to assuring your vacation experience is a memorable one while you relax and rejuvenate during your holiday at Abalone Bay.
Are You Ready for Adventure in Sonoma County’s Beautiful Outdoors?
If you’re planning to spend time outdoors during your stay, please join us in practicing the Sonoma County Leave No Trace Principles. These helpful Know Before You Go tips will ensure that you have a good time and help protect the outdoors during your visit.
© Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org
Things to do with Family and Children
Visit our page for Kid-friendly Activities that list our recommendations for families and children to explore. Many activities and things to do listed below are also suitable for children.
For current weekly activities and businesses that have interests for children (books, toys, etc.), please check the activities section and business advertisements of the Independent Coast Observer (http://mendonoma.com/) weekly newspaper (printed edition available each Thursday late afternoon in Gualala markets.
Experience the Recreation Centers
Note: Currently the Recreation Centers are closed due to COVID-19 protocols.
The following is a description of the recreation centers available to you while staying at Abalone Bay vacation rental home in The Sea Ranch. Of course, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact our property manager at Beach Rentals for additional information.
As our guest, you have access to any one of the three recreation centers available for
- Swimming in the heated pools,
- Saunas, and
- Other health and wellness activities including YOGA, WATER AEROBICS, TAI CHI, ZUMBA DANCE plus more.
Del Mar Center
- Has a large outdoor heated pool. Specific times are set aside for lap and aquatic exercise leaving other times for open swimming. This facility has saunas and 2 tennis courts
Ohlson Recreation Center
- Ohlson Recreation Center, tennis courts
- Ohlson Recreation Center swimming pool, saunas & tennis courts
- Open during the summer months.
- Has a large outdoor heated pool. S
- Specific times are set aside for lap and aquatic exercise leaving other times for open swimming.
- Has saunas and 3 tennis courts, half-court basketball and volleyball court.
- Guests are asked to bring their own sports equipment as it is not provided.
Moonraker Recreation Center
- Small outdoor heated pool. Specific times are set aside for lap and aquatic exercise leaving other times for open swimming. This facility has saunas and a tennis court.
The Sea Ranch Library
- The library is part of the Ohlson Recreation Center and is located in the Ohlson Ranch House. The motto – “Donate, borrow, and return”.
- Open daily 8 am – 6 pm
“One-Eyed Jack’s” Playground
- Picnic tables and barbecue available
- Short walk to the beach
“The Hot Spot”
- Located on the Gualala River on the south-east end of The Sea Ranch and east of the airport, take River Beach (off of Timber Ridge) to its end. Picnic tables and barbecues are available. Subject to seasonal closure. When the gates to the road are closed you can park on Deep Woods Rd., or River Beach, and walk down to the river.
The Sea Ranch Lodge
- A private Bay Area tech group purchased The Sea Ranch Lodge, a full-service 19-room in 2019. We await for the new owners to announce its grand reopening after its remodeling efforts. There has been no official statement on how the new owners will use/repurpose the property. We expect the Black Point Grill to reopen first. The Lodge’s rooms are still awaiting their remodel.
Apps, Audio Downloads, and Virtual Tours Our Favorite Thing to Do
Today’s traveler rarely leaves home without their smartphone and/or tablet and now there’s even more cause to have it ready for your Sea Ranch vacation. To enhance your experience while staying at Sea Ranch, we recommend our visiting digital nomads download these apps and audio tours before you set out to discover the amazing Sea Ranch.
“PLACENOTES” ~ The Sea Ranch Digital Edition
Modern-day explorers will find Placenotes, a newly created digital guide to The Sea Ranch, an easy means to access new layers of images and information about landscape and architecture, flora and fauna, culture, and history. Currently available for sale online, Placenotes was created and sold by the Charles Moore Foundation, as a travel guide that seeks to lead people to places that truly matter. It aspires to guide you, not to the everyday mundane, but rather to the places that move, inspire, and amuse us, to places that linger in our memories and imagination. Wholly and wonderfully digital, the PLACENOTES App is available for all of your mobile devices, both smartphones, and tablets.
The Sea Ranch Audio Walking Tour
Experience Donlyn Lyndon Personally Describe Sea Ranch
The Sea Ranch Audio Walking Tour is an introduction to the architecture and landscape of The Sea Ranch, noting the ideas and features that have made it world-renowned. The audio walking tour allows you to explore and experience The Sea Ranch buildings on your own…walking in the field with a mobile device or at home. It visits the area where the first Sea Ranch buildings were built and describes the landscape that surrounded them and how that has changed. Written and narrated by Donlyn Lyndon, one of the original architects, this self-guided audio guide explains what was intended in planning The Sea Ranch and in creating these first buildings. Lyndon comments, as well, on the evolution of the landscape during the subsequent fifty years.
Explore Our Distinctive Sense of Place
It should be noted here that this audio tour guides you along the walking trails of the area. It is not a house tour and does not include visits to the interiors of homes or condominiums. The audio tour is a celebration of the larger landscape and the ways in which architecture and its placement can combine with the landscape to create a very distinctive sense of place. However, we recommend you bring the audio tour along with you when you participate in the annual Sea Ranch Architectural Tour and Wine Tasting described next.
Digital Notes Provide Deeper Insight into the Annual Architectural Tour
Each Mother’s Day weekend the Soroptimist Club sponsors the annual Sea Ranch Architectural Tour and Wine Tasting. The tour highlights several of the Mendonoma Coast’s most interesting homes. Docents will be at each house to point out highlights for you, and homes will also have the architect, designer, and/or builder there as well!
However, the addition of these digital guides provides travelers and visitors a more in-depth, aspirational, and experience-focused adventure.
Trails to Explore on Your Own
Miles of unspoiled oceanfront trails and secluded beaches for hiking, jogging or biking are available at The Sea Ranch for its guests, Maps can be found in the basket next to the fireplace at Abalone Bay or at The Sea Ranch Association Office.
You may purchase your own copy of the Sea Ranch trails map at their office located at: 975 Annapolis Rd, Sea Ranch, CA 95497, United States Phone:+1 707-785-2444
Thursday Ramblers on a Hike – Another of our favorite things to do
The Thursday Ramblers take on a local hiking challenge every Thursday. Discover where they’ll be hiking next by visiting their website If it’s Thursday, I’m probably hiking for their scheduled hikes. Be inspired by photos and notes of their previous hikes.
Below is a list of Trail Maps available for your enjoyment:
Sonoma County’s Regional Parks website includes information specific to Sea Ranch Trails open for public access
Bluff Trail – these include:
TSRA’s Trails and Maps are provided for Abalone Bay guest use.
The maps are also available for purchase at The Sea Ranch Association Office. They are divided into regions:
Whalewatch Point to Gualala Point Regional Park
Gualala Point County Park to Golf Course
Golf Course to Del Mar Center
Del Mar Center to Tide Pool Beach
Tide Pool Beach to Deerfield Road
Deerfield Road to Madrone Meadow
Madrone Meadow to Longmeadow Road
Longmeadow Road to Annapolis Road
Annapolis Road to the Sea Ranch Lodge
The Sea Ranch Lodge to Yardarm Drive
Hot Spot Loop Trail Detail
Explore Trails Using Sea Ranch’s Self Guided Maps
Abalone Bay provides TSRA’s Trails and Maps for guests to explore all our many pathways and trails.
Currently, there are four interpretive trails with brochures describing historic and natural features: the San Andreas Fault Interpretive Trail, the Monarch Glen Interpretive Trail, Reading Our Seascape, and the Sag Pond Story Interpretive Guide. Brochures for all except the Sag Pond Story Interpretive Guide are available in wooden boxes at each trail: please pick one up to read on the trail, and return it at the end of your walk.
San Andreas Fault Interpretive Trail
The San Andreas Fault Interpretive Trail is just above the Hot Spot on River Beach Road. It features 4 ridges with associated swales and hummocks (created by parallel faults), a sag pond, broken trees, and displaced/recaptured drainage channels from 1906 and earlier earthquakes. The trail also features historical remnants from 1890’s logging of original ancient redwoods to explore (such as springboard notches and skid trails), as well as forest ecology of unique overstory, understory, and ground cover, as well as stump islands colonized by redwood sorrel (oxalis). Park at the Hot Spot and walk up River Beach Road to explore the trailhead.
The Monarch Glen Interpretive Trail
The Monarch Glen Interpretive Trail (pdf) is on the west side of Highway 1 just north of milepost 56.06. The trail is currently under restoration from severe sheep/goat damage and other problems. Its trailhead is reached by walking along the cypress hedgerow northeast from One-Eyed Jacks. The trail brochure describes many plants, especially shrubs and trees, along with both branches of Monarch Creek, as well as birds and other wildlife. Several unusual examples of redwood growth are also featured, as well as old Ohlson ranch sheep sorting pens and a long and 18″ deep trace of original ranch road, leading to one of the old red gates.
The Seascape Guide
The Seascape Guide describes sights along a section of the Bluff Trail from approximately Trail Marker 6 to Trail Marker 10, from just north of Galleons Reach to Navigators Reach. The guide describes many of the marine mammals and birds that may be seen along the shore, as well as geographical features. It describes the ecology of the coastal upwelling zone along our shore, and the California Coastal National Monument, which includes all the islands offshore of California.
The Sag Pond Story Interpretive Guide
The Sag Pond Story Interpretive Guide describes habitat, plants, and animals that might be found in the unique aquatic habitat of our eight sag ponds, and talks about the geologic processes that create the sag ponds. There are discussions of symbiotic relationships among plants that are found only in one place on The Sea Ranch. Five of the ponds are accessed by spur trails from other trails and from roads and feature the distinctive sag pond marker posts.
The Sea Ranch Historic Markers
In recognition of the complex and varied history of this unique and beautiful place, informative marker posts have been placed along the Sea Ranch trails. These marker posts document our history and identify some of the significant sites on The Sea Ranch.
Informative redwood markers identify sites of historical significance on The Sea Ranch. In addition to the sign, a text-based QR code provides an expanded description that you can read with a Smartphone QR code reader.
The sites represent what was going on at that specific location during the second half of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th. They provide information explaining the significance of each site.
For a fascinating and complete description of each of the nine historic sites with public access, and the events and people they evoke, read Harry Lindstrom’s brochure (click on the following link to view the PDF):
Printed copies of the brochure are available for sale from the Archives Committee or The Sea Ranch Association office at 975 Annapolis Road, The Sea Ranch, CA.
Easy Access Trails to Explore
Easy access trails are designed for people with limited mobility and for strollers. There are 7 easy access trails that lead to the Bluff Trail at posts 3, 6, 10, 24, 36, 43, and 60. Short horizontal bars on the Trails Map indicate the easy access trails.
The Sea Ranch Trails Code
- Trail use is a privilege
- Respect the people, the land, and the sea.
- Protect wildlife and plants.
- Safeguard streams, tidepools, beaches, and ponds.
- Honor the property of others.
- Go gently and stay on trails.
- Keep horses under control.
- No bicycle riding on Bluff Trail.
- No smoking on commons.
- Be responsible for your own safety
To view the nine Historic Markers, the Sonoma County Regional Parks provides limited public parking at the trailheads of the following public access trails:
- Gualala Point Regional Park (Bluff Trail) – Historic Markers #1-6 and #12
- Stengel Beach – Historic Marker #16
- Black Point – Historic Marker #24
Please note that the seven most northern historic markers with public access may be hiked on one continuous trail, while the two southern ones must each be accessed separately. Parking lots are open during daylight hours only and close at sunset.
Parking fees apply to visitors. RVs and trailers are not allowed in the parking lots. See Sonoma County Regional Parks website for information and use restrictions.
Explore the Geology of Sea Ranch and Beyond
EXPLORE GEOLOGIC TRIPS, SEA RANCH AND BOWLING BALL BEACH By Ted Konigsmark :
The rocks along the Sea Ranch bluff reveal an unusual and exciting geologic history. Like the north coast inhabitants, the rocks are well-traveled, span a good age range, have been battered around a bit, and have been modified by the effects of living near the ocean.
The pamphlet is online to download.
Enjoy the Many Beaches
- Listing of beaches in Mendocino County Click here
- Listing of trails and beaches in Sonoma County Click here
- Discover Gualala’s best kept secret beach location: Cooks Beach
- View the Marine Sanctuaries
DIVE AND FISH
Access to many coves is available to residents for diving and fishing. Divers are subject to TSR regulations and California fish and game regulations, especially with regard to diving for abalone. See California Fish and Wildlife Ocean Sport regulations. A beach boat ramp is available with parking.
Surfing Sonoma- Something to Do if You’re Brave
North of Marin lies the bucolic Sonoma coast — though not a prime surfing destination, it is a special place to explore, nonetheless. Bodega Bay serves as a western gateway to some of the most renowned wine country in the world. Unfortunately, the surf in Sonoma County doesn’t compare to the quality of its vintages. There are only four towns on the entire Sonoma coast, in between which lie miles and miles of either inaccessible and/or unsurfable beaches. There is a jewel or two, but these are really only ridden and scored by the locals.
Learn more at Surfline.com
Know the Tide Tables before you Explore the Coast
- Sea Ranch
If you explore the tide pools or beaches– Watch out for sleeper waves which are common along the north coast. These waves are known to pull people out into the riptides.
NEVER TURN YOUR BACK TO THE SEA
Experience a Guided Hike or Walking Tour
Unbeaten Path, one of Abalone Bay’s Go-Local partners, offers a full range of tours along the Sonoma/Mendocino coastal region from easy to challenging, as well as customized tours they can design to meet your needs. Their thoughtfully designed and narrated tours offer you in-depth opportunities to explore a myriad of hiking or walking trails. They are about maximizing your experience of the history, flora, fauna and the lesser known trails of this beautiful and unique coastal region. Tour packages include:
- Photographer’s Tour
- Bowling Ball Beach Tour
- Basic Meandering Walk Tour
- Extended Meandering Walk Tour
- Architectural Tour
- Salt Point Tour
- Gualala River & Bluffs Tour
- Knipp-Stengel Hillside Loop
- Flora & Fauna Tour:
- The All-Star Tour
- Challenge Tour:
- Custom Tour
BIKE TRAILS AND MAPS
Wondering what to do once you are at Abalone Bay? Why not enjoy Sea Ranch’s fresh sea air, and view the area’s flora and fauna on one of Sea Ranch Bike Rentals Specialized Expedition Bikes! As an Abalone Bay guest you can now rent bikes through Sea Ranch Bike Rentals. They are available in three sizes – see chart above by calling 707-785-2366. Their rate is $40 a day, or $200 per week (you get two free days). Hourly rates are not available. Read our blog post to learn more.
Need maps to trails? See our blog post, Peddling back in time to see maps then and now.
Sea Ranch Golf Links: Just 5 miles north of Abalone Bay is Robert Muir Graves’ Sea Ranch Golf Links. To book a tee-time just click here.
The Links at Bodega Harbour: Perched along the spectacular Sonoma County California Coast, the Links at Bodega Harbour combines breathtaking natural beauty with a recently remodeled Robert Trent Jones II design. Experience the beauty and challenge of a true Scottish style links course. Combining spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean from all 18 holes, rolling fairways, undulating greens, and native coastal rough, this golf course is sure to take your breath away. Click here to see rates. Click here for tee-times.
THE SEA RANCH STABLES
37405 Highway One; Mile Marker 53.64 The Sea Ranch, CA
Owners of homes in The Sea Ranch may ride their horses on the trails and board them at the stables. Memorial Day weekend the stables invite the community to visit and meet the owners and horses stabled there.
Maps and Guides
Abalone Bay provides maps for your use while staying with us. Sea Ranch trail maps and guide booklets are available for purchase through The Sea Ranch Association Office. These items include information on home locations, streets, beach and bluff access, trails, parking areas, etc. The guide booklets contain information about wildlife, marine life, trails/walks, wildflowers and the history and development of The Sea Ranch.
DAY TRIPS FROM ABALONE BAY
To be sure a private ride on spectacular California’s Manchester Beach will be a wonderful memory of your vacation. Miles of unspoiled sand and surf. Rocks, driftwood, creeks, birds, and seastacks dot this vast expanse of beach.
Adventure Rents: Rent a Canoe or Kayak on the Gualala River
Go Mountain Climbing at Gualala Mountain Summit
Gualala Mountain is a mountain summit in Mendocino County in the state of California (CA). Gualala Mountain climbs to 2,156 feet (657.15 meters) above sea level.To hike and explore California’s outdoors near Gualala Mountain, check the list of nearby trails.
Things to Do Calendar
Learn what is happening in the Mendonoma region (Mendocino/Sonoma) as listed in the Independent Coastal Observer, the region’s local newspaper,
Mark Your Calendar: http://www.mendonoma.com/calendar.htm
Owing to the vines that produce the glorious grape and curl around their stakes, the roads that take you over rolling hills, past coastal waters, up into the redwoods and down into the warm valleys in Northern California a wine tour that explores wine country is a must. Whether Abalone Bay is your starting point or endpoint of this tour make sure you plan time for exploring the bounty of the valleys and coastal range. Most tourists visit both Napa and Sonoma when visiting California Wine Country. But don’t forget to include Mendocino wineries too. If you are looking for a short jaunt try Annapolis Winery only 8 miles away up from Highway 1.
Drive safely and have a great road trip to California Wine Country.
Visit California Wines’ event calendar to discover Wine Events of interest throughout the year.