Discovering The Sea Ranch is like taking a breath of fresh air. Breathtaking beaches, rugged cliffs and redwood forests, this piece of coastline concentrates on 16 kilometers all the wild beauty of Northern California. Less than two hours from San Francisco, northwest of Sonoma County, the site is along Route 1, facing the Pacific Ocean.
If the landscapes forge the reputation of the region, it is the story of The Sea Ranch that has made it famous. The community was born in the early 60s under the leadership of a renowned architect, Al Boecke. His ambition? Ensure a better life. His method? Imagine an alternative to concrete cities thanks to a habitat in harmony with nature. Sixty years later, find out how to enjoy this popular vacation spot.
Architecture, witness to a past utopia
The Sea Ranch now has some 1,300 residents who bring Al Boeck’s vision to life. Nothing better to understand your project than to survey the six public trails which criss-cross the surrounding moors. On the program: panoramic views of the ocean on one side and the houses on the other. The latter have the common point of blending into their environment. Built of wood, they are distinguished by sloping roofs (which do not hinder the winds) and by facades open to the outside. Between them, there are no barriers or streetlights, in order to minimize any pollution.
The best way to enjoy your stay is to rent accommodation on site. The advantage: you then have a pass offering access to collective structures. Meeting rooms, sports halls, tennis courts, swimming pool… Each place tells a part of the history of the community. The chapel alone is worth a visit to admire its whimsical style.
The Chapel at The Sea Ranch © Shutterstock
Beaches, golf and art
Most trails lead to beaches via cliffside stairs. Coves of rock formations or long crescents of fine sand, these beaches lend themselves to exploration and meditation. The currents, too dangerous, prevent swimming, but you can observe the local flora and fauna. The whales in big stars.
At the north end of Sea Ranch, the Gualala Regional Park require you to stop there. The Gualala River flows into the ocean and forms a superb estuary. The huge beach is rarely crowded and uA visitor center offers information on the history of this coast, Native Americans and the marine environment. A golf, whose views will delight fans, also borders the park. And, overlooking the estuary, the town of Gualala concentrates small art galleries where it is good to stroll, and pleasant cafes-restaurants.
Gualala estuary – © Charlotte Attry
Sculpture for Peace and Russian Culture
On the way back to SF, south of The Sea Ranch, a break at the hotel Timber Cove Resort allows you to admire an obelisk for peace more than 28 meters high. Inaugurated in 1962, the sculpture, completed seven years later, deserves a stop.
Ten 10 minutes later, the Historic Fort Ross stands on the cliffs. Founded by the Russians in 1812, most of the buildings can be visited. The former outpost of Tsarist Russia boasts one of California’s first windmills and the remains of a shipyard. Enough to end this getaway by traveling back in time.
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A Weekend at The Sea Ranch – Frenchly
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