Haven’t heard of Valley Ford in California? Well don’t worry, because lots of other people haven’t either, which is surprising when you consider that Valley Ford is just 1 hour drive north of San Francisco en-route to Bodega Bay. With a small population of just 147 people across a 2.6 square mile (4 km square) radius, it’s understandable if you miss it. This time though we’re putting Valley Ford back on the map with list of fantastic things to do there. Stop for a weekend en-route to Bodega Bay and discover something new.
Built in 1864 this historic hotel has seen more history on its doorsteps than most and there are plenty of old tales to be told. Just one hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge, this hotel offers a convenient resting point for coastal exploration. The rooms are of a practical size with quaint furnishings, whilst the staff are extremely helpful in terms of deciding day trips, and experiences.
Valley Ford Hotel
Address: 14415 Highway One, Valley Ford, CA 94972, USA (see map)
Price: from 132 USD
2. Eat at popular restaurant Rocker Oysterfellers
Not only is their name great but their menu is too! The menu is on the more expensive side but is worth every penny, with freshly caught fish, a relaxed ambience and excellent customer service, you’ll be well looked after. If you head on down on a Thursday you’ll see that it’s Oyster Night where their speciality is on offer, be warned though, Valley Ford might be small but this restaurant is very popular so you might need to make a reservation.
Address: 14415 Shoreline Highway, Valley Ford Hotel, Valley Ford, CA 94972
Website: Rocker Oysterfellers
3. Visit Valley Ford Market
A trip to Valley Ford wouldn’t be complete without visiting their excellent market which stocks a wide range of delicious local wines, not too surprising as they are in Sonoma Wine County! You can also pick up other such luxuries as gourmet coffee, desserts and artisan breads. It’s open every day so you can also expect to grab some daily necessities and materials such as fishing tackle, hiking equipment and arts’ n’ crafts pieces.
Valley Ford Market
Address: 14400 Coast Highway 1, Valley Ford, CA 94972
Website: Valley Ford Market
4. Discover art history at Christo & Jeanne-Claude Running Fence Park
In 1976 Valley Ford played home to one of the most controversial art installations in history. Christo and Jean-Claude’s Running Fence project ran straight through Valley Ford, at a total of 18 feet (5.5 meters) high and 24.5 miles (39.4 kilometers) long, it consisted of over 42 months of collaborative viewings. It was controversial in that it was subjected to 18 public hearings and 3 sessions in the courts during its construction period. Just 14 days after its completion, as promised, its removal began and so now no visible remains of this incredible art can be seen today unless you head on down to the Running Fence Park where you can read up on all the art history associated with the project.
Christo & Jeanne-Claude Running Fence Park
Address: 14550 Bodega Highway, Bodega Bay
5. Revel in ranch life at Twisted Horn Ranch
Twisted Horn Ranch offers immersive experiences into countryside and ranch life. Home to Longhorn cows, you can see the farm in working order by pre-booking an appointment or purchasing some fresh meat directly from them for pickup. You can also register to stay on the site in their private studio which is perfect for couples but can also manage up to groups of five. It has a fully working kitchen and absolutely incredible rural views. To be honest, it’s the perfect excuse to get out of the town and spend some time with nature.
Twisted Horn Ranch
Address: 11399 Valley Ford Rd, Petaluma, CA 94952
Website: Twisted Horn Ranch
6. Kayak up Bodega Bay
Just 10 minute’s drive from Valley Ford lands you in the beautiful and popular Bodega Bay. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy in Bodega Bay but for this list we recommend hiring a kayak and experiencing life from a different perspective. A half day rental is plenty of time and you’ll (hopefully) be able to see lots of interesting wildlife including: migrating birds, seals, otters and sting rays.
Bodega Bay Kayaks
Address: 1580 Eastshore Rd, Bodega Bay, CA 94923
Website: Bodega Bay Kayaks
7. Sonoma Canopy Tours
Occidental is a tiny community of just 1,100 residents and is located a 12 minute drive from Valley Ford. Now you might be thinking, why is this list taking me to such obscure places, but there is a very good reason that Occidental is on our list. Here, you could be flying through the tree-tops, experiencing something you never have done before with the people at Sonoma Canopy Tours who offer a wide number of exhilarating zip-wiring experiences. From tree top courses and even a sunset course, over a long number of wires, you’ll soon be swooping through the air. Woooooooo! Yes, you can thank us later!
Sonoma Canopy Tours
Website: Sonoma Canopy Tours
8. Grab a treat at Estero Cafe
After all of these fun activities in Valley Ford we’re sure that you need a rest and the best place has to be Estero Cafe. With locally sourced food and great customer service Estero Cafe is the perfect place to hang out and relax with friends for breakfast or brunch.
Address: 14450 Highway One, Valley Ford, CA
Facebook page: Estero Cafe
It may be random but it's worth it!
Just trust us with this one. Valley Ford may be quiet and sleepy but it is the perfect weekend break in which to explore something new and take part in day-trips to the surrounding areas. If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-track experiences then schedule your trip to Valley Ford today.
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