The nucleotide second messenger 3′-5′ cyclic diguanylate monophosphate (c-di-GMP) is a central regulator of the transition between motile and non-motile lifestyles in bacteria, favoring sessility. Most research investigating the functions of c-di-GMP has focused on Gram-negative species, especially pathogens. Recent work in Gram-positive species has revealed that c-di-GMP plays similar roles in Gram-positives, though the precise targets and mechanisms of regulation may differ. The majority of bacterial life exists in a surface-associated state, with motility allowing bacteria to disseminate and colonize new environments. c-di-GMP signaling regulates flagellum biosynthesis and production of adherence factors and appears to be a primary mechanism by which bacteria sense and respond to surfaces. Ultimately, c-di-GMP influences the ability of a bacterium to alter its transcriptional program, physiology and behavior upon surface contact. This review discusses how bacteria are able to sense a surface via flagella and type IV pili, and the role of c-di-GMP in regulating the response to surfaces, with emphasis on studies of Gram-positive bacteria.