Gualala (pronounced “Wah-la-lah”) is a Native American phrase for “Where the water flows“. This charming coastal town is a safe haven away from the fast-paced lifestyle of towns and cities to the south of California. Located on the Pacific Northwest Coast along Highway 1 north of Sea Ranch and south of Point Arena, this charming town offers some of the most beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. I tried to feature highlights of Gualala that are affordable and kid-friendly in this post. If you ever wanted to enjoy California’s iconic views without the crowd, make sure to add Gualala to your bucket list!

1. Gualala Arts Center

Tucked away in the Evergreens and Redwoods is the Gualala Arts Center. We stumbled upon this by chance while looking for some beautiful places to take photos with the Redwoods. We were drawn by the amazing statues and art pieces surrounding the building. We were able to enter (for free!) the art museum which features local artists and even students (check out that Mac Miller drawing!). Gualala Arts Center features various events throughout the year. Make sure to check out their website & plan a visit!

Cost (non-event tour): $0 
Link: Gualala Arts Center  

2. Point Regional Park

If you are torn between a good hike and visiting the beach, why not go where you can do both? Point Regional park offers the best of both worlds, with 3 miles of trails to hike through beautiful woods and along the rugged coastline. One of the paved trails leads down to the coastline, with a beautiful view of the ocean and the town as well! There are tons of neat succulents and driftwood decorating the shores as well. It does get cold by the ocean- especially in this area. Make sure to dress warm and be prepared for wind!

Cost: $0

3. Instagram-Worthy Coastline

If you are looking for an Instagram-worthy spot for a photo-op that isn’t populated, is rugged and beautiful, Highway 1 through Gualala is a buffet of views. There are plenty of places to pull over and take in the scenery. I should note the weather in Gualala during March was in the 70s. During the early morning hours, we had rainfall almost every early morning, but it would dry up quickly with all the sunshine that follows. Some mornings we found ourselves in “fog advisories” where you were lucky to see a few inches in front of your face. I definitely would keep an eye out for these advisories and plan your adventures around them.

Cost: $0

4. Gualala River Redwood Park

When I think of magical, I think of the Redwoods. There is something so humbling about standing next to such a powerful structure in nature that reminds you of how small you are. Gualala River Redwood Park has a breathtaking drive in, winding around Redwoods and Evergreens, eventually leading up to Gualala River. Pictures do not do this wonderful park justice! You also have the option of renting a campsite at Gualala River Redwood Park. The cost of the site depends on the location. Some of the spots have a river view, which they charge $84 (plus tax) per night.

Cost: $0 (drive through) Link: Gualala Riverwood Park Campground

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5. Vue Kitchen

Vue Kitchen (connected to Hotel Breaks for lodging) is too beautiful and delicious to not have a spot of it’s own on this list. Vue Kitchen is built on the cliffs of Gualala, hanging over the Pacific Ocean. Whether you are there for lunch or a romantic evening dinner, the view is worth a million dollars. Not to mention, you can hear the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the shore while you enjoy your meal. They also feature a full bar and fire to enjoy your meal around. You can enjoy unique seafood dishes of Ceviche, crab cakes, clam chowder or braised beef short ribs, pork shank Osos Buco and vegetarian options as well.

Cost: $13-$39 (price range per plate) Link: Vue Kitchen Menu & pictures

6. Redwoods Valley Lions Club Park

Gualala is home to a number of beautiful family friendly parks, such as the three acres of land in the Redwood Valley known as the Redwoods Valley Lions Club Park. This park is equipped with places to grill, a playground, ball park and beautiful trails-all under the Redwoods! Other family friendly parks are Faulkner Park, Bowen Park, Low Gap Park and Mill Creek.

Cost: $0 Recreational Parks Information

7. Visit Trinks

Adorned with a beautiful ocean view is one of the coziest coffee shops along the Pacific Northwest Coast- Trinks! This place is a vibe. A mood. If you are looking for a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. this is the place for you! Trinks is both loved by the locals and a hotspot for weary travelers to recharge their batteries. I visited trinks quite a few times- for coffee. a healthy smoothie or lunch time. My children also loved the malts here- I would definitely say it is a family friendly place! As for food or drink recommendations- it is seriously ALL mouth watering! There is truly something for everyone at Trinks!

Cost: $4-$18 Link: Trinks*Fun fact: I had found so much comfort at Trinks, I actually wrote a poem about it, featured in my collection of poetry I have written during my travels, titled Shipwreck. You can pick up a copy here!

8. St. Orre’s

St. Orre’s is many things: lodging, restaurant, bar and a venue for weddings and events! A unique structure facing the ocean, St. Orre’s is one of a kind located along Highway 1. If you choose to stay here, note that St. Orre’s is near a secluded, sandy cove known as Cooks Beach (dog and kid-friendly!). St. Orre’s may be one of the pricier highlights of Gualala, but the free views make it hard to pass up on the list. You can also pay a visit for an appetizer or some drinks at the bar.

Restaurant cost: $4-60 depending on your order! Breakfast is complimentary with lodging.

9. Sea Trader, Accents by the Sea

Sea Trader is located along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I remember walking in, with the back door open and cats hanging out by the back of the store. I knew off the bat this would be a cool place! Quirky, unique and folksy, I found souvenirs and treasures for my kids, friends and myself here. I spent a lot of time here because there is soooo much to see! I urge you to check out Sea Trader and find your own treasure!

Cost: Everything here varies. I will see, the cost was similar to other quirky shops I have found selling similar items, so I would not say it’s “expensive”.

10. Garden of Buddhas

Garden of Buddhas is actually an online store where you can purchase beautiful statues. However, they also have a physical site off of Highway 1 in the northern area of Gualala. The site caught our eye while we were off on our road trip to Fort Braggs, California and we had to stop. There are plenty of picturesque areas along with beautiful wildflower gardens!

Cost: $0 (sight seeing) Garden of Buddhas

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If you enjoyed this post & plan to travel Pacific Coast Highway 1 to Gualala, California, comment below which of these scenic stops you will be doing!

Point Regional Park

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