The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Between Bodega Bay and Point Reyes, Hwy-1 veers inland to avoid the marshy lowlands, and midway between the two bigger destinations the winding two-lane highway brings you to a great road-trip stop. Valley Ford is a photogenic community that holds a great, old family-run roadhouse, Dinucci’s (14485 Valley Ford Rd., 707/876-3260, dinner only Thurs.-Mon., plus lunch on weekends, $10-20 per person), serving huge portions of unreconstructed Italian food—minestrone, fresh bread, salad, and pasta.
More self-consciously stylish, contemporary fare is on the menu next door at quirky Rocker Oysterfeller’s (14415 Shoreline Hwy, 707/876-1983, dinner Thurs.-Fri., lunch and dinner Sat., brunch and dinner Sun.), inside the Civil War-era Valley Ford Hotel, which has been renovated with luxurious rooms while retaining old-time charm (quilts on the beds, rocking chairs on the porch, the whole nine yards).