Nestled close to the Gualala River, the small town of Gualala, California, offers a tranquil reprieve, enveloped in a sunny ambiance.
It was once a famous logging spot, but it has become more commonly known as a commercial hub for nearby areas.
Beautiful nature trails and lush forests to glimmering bodies of water surround Gualala.
It’s a perfect place for outdoor pursuits like hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, and the like.
As for the town itself, Gualala’s downtown is home to an array of art galleries, quaint shops, and splendid eateries.
Start your adventure in this beautiful community.
Here are the best things to do in Gualala, California:
See the Whales at Gualala Point Regional Park
Along Coast Highway 1 lies one of the community’s most treasured natural destinations, the Gualala Point Regional Park.
Walk along scenic trails through a plethora of forests and meadows that will connect you to a far-reaching, pristine beach.
Once there, you can enjoy outdoor activities like swimming, camping, wildlife-watching, and more.
If you’re interested in learning about the environment, head towards the visitor’s center, where you’ll find loads of information.
You can learn about the place’s history, the people who reside, and notes on the various animal wildlife from the visitor's center.
There’s plenty to do in Gualala Point Regional Park.
Immerse yourself in the town’s natural wonders.
Experience Culture at the Gualala Arts Center
Gualala has a thriving art scene, which stems from artistic, creative visitors who became enamored with the land’s natural beauty.
They then began to settle around the area and open spaces for all kinds of arts.
Gualala Arts Center is one of those venues.
It’s a multi-million facility brimming with art exhibitions, theater arts, and methods for cultural appreciation.
Whether it’s a theater performance, musical concert, or display of intricate paintings, the Gualala Arts Center holds facilities to accommodate various art mediums.
They also have scenic outdoor trails with gorgeous artworks scattered along the path to add unique features.
It’s an uncommon venture that you shouldn’t miss out on.
Drop by the Gualala Arts Center at Old Stage Road.
Hike the Gualala Bluff Trail
Gualala Bluff Trail is an easy trail marked with beautiful views of the Gualala River and its surrounding environment.
Volunteers from the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) help maintain the trail’s pristine quality.
As you walk along the short trail, you will see unique plants, flowers, and trees native to Gualala.
You could also get a chance to glimpse the whales and otters swimming in the waters.
Aside from that, open areas can give off a fresh ocean breeze, adding to the serene experience.
Gualala Bluff Trail is a superb option for those who want to experience the outdoors without the hassle or stress.
You can find its trailhead at the back of the Surf Motel.
Rest in the Surf Motel at Gualala
After hours of exploring the community’s attractions, the Surf Motel at Gualala can provide you with a safe place to take a break.
It’s a two-star motel across the Pacific Ocean, offering endless views of the vast azure waters.
Wildflowers and fantastic metal structures adorn the outdoor scenery of this cozy motel.
Meanwhile, its interior hosts comfortable rooms and convenient facilities.
Enjoy the microwaves, TV screens, refrigerators, and free Wi-Fi while staying in the motel.
The Surf Motel also boasts of a cliffside bluff that offers picturesque views.
With chairs to lounge on and an outdoor fire pit, you can sit back, relax, and wait for the skies to change their colors.
Check Out the Photography at Studio 391
Built in 2013, this studio is one of the best art venues in Gualala, California.
Studio 391 is a fine arts gallery focusing primarily on stunning Sea Ranch photographs from Paul Kozac.
Browse stunning photographs of local nature in their best angles, edited in a few ways to maximize their inherent beauty.
Studio 391 also hosts several area artists, creating a space for locals to showcase their artworks and sell them from one convenient location.
From delicate potteries and fragile sculptures to inspiring photographs and vivid paintings, Studio 391 carefully curates their pieces to display only the best works.
This gallery sits along Ocean Drive within the Cypress Village Gallery District.
Drop by to see the ongoing pieces they have in store for their guests.
Feast on Local Seafood at the Gualala Seafood Shack
As its name indicates, this restaurant’s star is its seafood.
The restaurant sources its seafood straight from the nearby ocean, so you’ll get a taste of ocean-fresh seafood.
Their wide selection of seafood menu includes rockfish, shrimp, clams, prawns, and tuna.
Their menu also features locally sourced, grass-fed beef burgers with tasty complimentary fries.
You can enjoy your meal at a simple, rustic location with long wooden tables and chairs, perfect for families and groups of friends.
Tasting local cuisine is always a unique experience when going to new cities.
Add Gualala Seafood Shack to your list of restaurants!
Shop for Gifts at Dolphin Gallery
While there are several galleries in Gualala, they each have different features and specialties that make them distinct from others.
Dolphin Gallery doubles as a local gift shop selling creative trinkets and knick-knacks at affordable prices.
Their most budget-friendly products are greeting cards.
You can easily bring them home as a souvenir or send them to people you care about.
Other than that, Dolphin Gallery only accepts works from local artists in Gualala and the nearby Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.
They host all kinds of mediums like paintings, sculptures, potteries, and glass figurines.
Dolphin Gallery also rotates its exhibits, so there’s always something new to see, even if you’re a local or a frequent visitor.
If you go gallery-hopping at Gualala, don’t miss out on this one along Ocean Drive.
Spend the Day at Bower Park
Bower Park is a family-friendly attraction in Gualala, California.
It’s home to a list of fun amenities, including tennis courts, basketball courts, an area for disc golf, and playgrounds for children.
Whether you’d like to relax or get active with other people, Bower Park can give you something to do within their accessible facilities.
There’s also a small pond and a few walking trails that you can explore in Bower Park.
Enjoy a picnic, search for wildlife, or play a few games.
Parks are always an excellent destination to explore when you arrive at a new place.
Look for this park at Old Stage Road and try its amenities.
Sip Coffee and Enjoy the View at Trinks Cafe
Founded in 2003, Trinks Cafe has become a local and tourist favorite in the peaceful town of Gualala, California.
It started as a dessert and coffee-only establishment, but its popularity paved the way for expansions that included savory breakfasts and lunches.
Their meals come from locally sourced ingredients, from all their meats and fish to seasonal herbs, plants, and spices.
The cafe guarantees your meals and pastries come from the freshest ingredients with hints of Californian flavors.
Pair your drinks with homemade pastries, sandwiches, or salads for the whole cafe experience.
Whatever your order, you can enjoy them in a cozy atmosphere with sweeping views of the ocean and its nearby environment.
It’s a convenient way to glimpse some of Gualala’s natural beauty.
If this interests you, head towards Highway 1 to locate this small coffee shop.
Look for Marine Animals at Cooks Beach
The town of Gualala is also home to a beautiful attraction in the summer, Cooks Beach.
Along Shoreline Highway, you can find Cooks Beach in a cove to the northern side of the community.
You can reach it through the Bonham Trail.
It may be a relatively small beach, but it’s filled with fine light-colored sand and abundant marine wildlife.
Depending on the season, you can also find starfish, anemone, and crabs around the area.
In the past, authorities prohibited tourists from entering Cooks Beach.
However, with the help of environmental organizations, the town built a viewing platform and a trail towards the beach.
Lie down on the sand and search for sea creatures.
Cooks Beach offers an isolated haven from the bustling cities nearby.
Look at the Stars at Gualala River Redwood Park
A visit to Gualala River Redwood Park is the ultimate adventure for travelers seeking the untamed wilderness.
You’ll find yourself amid tall, abundant redwoods that make up most of the forest’s plantation.
Animal species native to forests like birds, bats, and insects live freely in the woods.
Try camping, hiking, and picnicking in Gualala River Redwood Park.
You can use amenities like electricity, water, picnic tables, and fire rings at some camping sites near the river.
However, the most cherished tradition in Gualala River Redwood Park is stargazing in the middle of rural woodlands.
Thanks to minimal light pollution, the stars shine incredibly inside the park.
Immerse yourself in this one-of-a-kind experience along Gualala Road.
Play Pool with Friends at Cove Azul Bar & Grill
Good food, pool tables, and oceanfront views make Cove Azul Bar & Grill a splendid destination for dining in Gualala, California.
It sits along the lengths of Ocean Drive and boasts a warm atmosphere with friendly staff.
The outdoor patio offers clear ocean views; you may even see a whale pass by.
At night, fairy lights will light up the dark patio.
You can choose from a wide selection of drinks, including craft beers, classy wine, and hand-mixed cocktails.
With well-seasoned seafood and refreshing drinks, guests can enjoy an authentic local experience with the community.
Have a delightful meal at Cove Azul Bar & Grill.
Buy Local Goods at Gualala Farmers Market
This seasonal market at Central Street only sells products from local sources in and around the Gualala community.
Founded in 1981, Gualala Farmers Market opens from May to November, connecting all kinds of customers to direct producers and artisans.
From various agricultural produce and baked goods to vibrant flowers and handcrafted pieces, the farmers' market features a broad selection of items to browse.
Most of the vendors you’ll meet in the market are farmers and artisans.
The products in Gualala Farmers Market reflect hints of the local places they come from, so expect unique tastes and styles.
You might find your next favorite delicacy at Gualala Farmers Market.
Browse the Sea Trader
Locally made handicrafts are the highlights of this quaint gift shop.
The old folk styles of Gualala inspire some of the items in this gift shop, reminding visitors of the period when Native Americans inhabited the area.
They also have an assortment of jewelry, lotions, books, and random items that could catch your eye.
Sea Trader is also home to singing bowls, a type of bell instrument that produces sounds when you play it with an accompanying hammer-like item.
People believe in the sound’s soothing effects on the body.
If you’re curious about the products at Sea Trader, drop by the establishment along Highway 1.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Book a Tee Time at Sea Ranch Golf Links
Sea Ranch Golf Links offers a premium destination for golf enthusiasts and beginners.
Located five minutes from Gualala, this golf course can provide leisure and entertainment to anyone who wants to play.
You can find the course in Sea Ranch, California.
Robert Muir Graves designed the course, featuring 18-holes worth of diverse terrains inspired by the Scottish style.
Outstanding views of the Pacific Ocean accompany this beautifully made course.
You can smell the fresh ocean breeze and feel the wind in your hair as you play a round of fun golf.
Make a pit stop at Sea Ranch and play a seamless game of golf near Gualala.
Gualala is a small community in California, but that doesn’t mean it’s a boring destination.
It thrives in various types of arts, quaint shops, and endless opportunities to connect with nature.
Enjoy all these activities while soaking up a tranquil, inviting ambiance.
Spend your restful break in this charming town.
You might even find more things to do in Gualala, California when you arrive.