The first time a friend suggested a trip to Sea Ranch, I had visions of seahorse cowboys and underwater rodeos. I soon discovered it to be anything but a SpongeBob SquarePants circus. It proved to be one of the most restful places I’ve ever been.
100 miles north of San Francisco, the drive takes a good three hours if you take time to gawk at the Oscar winning coastline. We often stop in Bodega Bay for a fish and chips or clam chowder lunch to break up the drive. This time, my seven-year-old discovered he gets carsick, and if you are prone to motion sickness this drive will surely bring it on.
Sea Ranch was a pioneering eco-community begun in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The connection between the landscape and the architecture is beautiful and certainly contributes to the serenity of the place. I dislike gated communities or housing developments in general, but this place really has captured the benefits of a uniform style with strong community ethos. The sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate wood-frame structures were inspired by the local ranches and are designed to cope with the weather and integrate well with the topography.
We were invited to a beautiful rental house with our friends and planned a feast of a menu; after all, you work up an appetite strolling along the rugged coast. Our friends always insist on renting a house with a hot tub with a view of the sea and I must say, taking a dip with my morning coffee in tow before the kids awoke was a simple pleasure I won’t soon forget. This particular house was perched on the cliffs, and waking up to the Pacific Ocean view does wonders for the soul and spirit. When you add a roaring fire and a cocktail at sunset into the mix, then you’re really talking relaxation.
We brought bikes, yoga mats, board games, books and baking projects and we all read a ton! I switched between Patti Smith’s Just Kids and reading my little one The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which we found on the bookshelf.
This house was owned by a writer and the bookshelves were organized and labeled like a library; a nice touch. Like the book, where the Little Prince famously asks the Aviator to draw him a sheep, a flock of sheep is used at Sea Ranch to keep grass cut low to the ground to reduce the threat of fire during the summer months. It was a tender moment when we made that connection.
There is an elegant pool that is kept heated in the winter. Very few folks braved the cold weather to take a dip, but a dry sauna made the pool all the more enticing, particularly after an invigorating bike ride against the wind. With seals basking on the rocks along the coast and clear crisp February weather, one of the best moments was making a driftwood fort on the beach.
Prices on rentals range about $200-$500 a night depending on location, size and amenities. It is a perfect venue for family reunions, romantic getaways or multi-family trips. Even in the rain or mist, Sea Ranch is a great place to unwind.