This past spring, when planning some summer day trips, Brian and I pulled up a map of California to see what parts of the coast we hadn’t yet explored. Dillon Beach, Tomales Bay, and Point Reyes topped our list and luckily, they’re all located in the same area. We had visited Dillon Beach in the past, but it was a blustery, rainy day, so this was the perfect day trip!
We set out early on Saturday bound for Dillon Beach and actually had time to hike through Tomales Bay State Park and walk the Cypress Tree Tunnel and North Beach in Point Reyes too!
Dillon Beach is the only privately owned beach in Northern California. The Dillon Beach Resort maintains the beach and provides facilities for visitors.
Dillon Beach Resort sits on 55 coastal acres on the Marin-Sonoma County Line, between the mouth of Tomales Bay and the entrance to Bodega Bay. Views of the magnificent Point Reyes Peninsula can be enjoyed from any vantage point on the property, which features almost a mile of private beach.
We paid our $10.00 parking fee, found a spot close to the beach, and went exploring.
All I could think is, “WOW! I can’t believe our families haven’t come here before!” Dillon Beach is HUGE. At nearly 1.0 mile long, the wide, flat, sandy beach is a gorgeous place for beachcombing, picnicking, playing, kite flying, tide pooling, and surfing. It’s also a popular destination for dog owners, as friendly dogs are welcome off-leash.
As we walked down the beach, dogs raced and frolicked, chasing balls thrown by their families, children laughed and played in the surf, and families relaxed in the sun. Toward the end of the beach, tide pools with sea snails and anemones were still visible and Natalie and I hopped from rock to rock to see if we could find any sea stars.
With views of the Point Reyes Peninsula to the south and Bodega Head to the north, the beach is a fantastic place to spend a Saturday with the family.
Food And Shopping
The historic inn at Dillon Beach was built in the late 1800s and has only changed hands three times in over 130 years. Today in the inn building, you’ll find a restaurant, a General Store, and a Surf Shop.
- Dillon Beach Coastal Kitchen highlights and celebrates local and seasonal cuisine, often sourcing proteins, produce, and products directly from farmers, ranchers, foragers, and fishermen from Northern California.
- The General Store provides everything you need for a day at the beach, from surf gear to picnic supplies to groceries and beverages. Here you can also grab Equator Coffee and Double 8 Dairy soft serve.
- The Surf Shop, located within the General Store, offers surfboards for rent or sale along with other items such as boogie boards, wetsuits, and booties.
Dillon Beach History
Dillon Beach is named after its founder, George Dillon, who settled there in 1858. Eventually, Dillon sold out to John Keegan with the agreement that the beach would always be named Dillon Beach. Keegan platted the small town, built the hotel which still stands as the General Store and Restaurant. Keegan also built cottages, one of which still stands along the road to the beach.
Keegan eventually sold the holdings to the Lawson family who owned it until the arrival of the Clines. Between 2001 and 2018, Dillon Beach Resort was owned and operated by Fred and Nancy Cline of Sonoma Valley, California. In April 2018, Mike Goebel purchased the resort.
Dillon Beach Resort is adjacent to Lawson’s Landing. The Landing was first established in 1929 and the family-owned and operated campground has been running since 1957. This fishing, clamming, boating, and outdoor sports resort, includes boat launching facilities, boat rentals, mooring, and a fully-equipped boathouse and outboard shop.
Know Before You Go
- Dillon Beach Resort is located at 1 Beach Avenue, Dillon Beach, California 94929 in Marin County, just 3.25 miles west of Tomales, between Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay.
- Dillon Beach is the only privately owned beach in Northern California. The Dillon Beach Resort maintains the beach and provides facilities for visitors.
- There is a $10 parking fee for visitors to use the parking lot near the north end of the beach and annual passes are available.
- Dillon Beach Resort offers guests picnic tables and fire pits, as well as restrooms (but no showers).
- Dillon Beach is a canine-friendly beach, welcoming “non-agressive dogs” off-leash. All dog owners are required to clean up after your dogs.
- Need a place to stay? Check out their modern, Instagram-worthy coastal cabins and cottages.
- Wear layers. Cool weather and fog is common during the summer months, but the fog often burns off in the afternoon.