Russian River Resort Area includes the central town of Guerneville, as well as surrounding towns of Forestville,
Rio Nido, Monte Rio, Cazadero, Duncans Mills and Jenner. With a population of just over 4,500 people, Guerneville is the largest community in the Russian River Resort Area. But when the season is upon them, and the river beckons the kayakers & canoers, beaches attract swimmers and revelers, you will swear that this small town is much larger. Whether you just want to paddle around at Johnson’s Beach or trek all the way downriver to Jenner by the Sea, you will find ideal river navigators ready with your gear and some excellent launch points. Most offer shuttle service as well, and some will even bring a kayak or canoe to your vacation rental.
Foodies will be pleasantly surprised by the many fine dining options, from Michelin recommended dining to riverview bistros. Some of Russian River Area’s restaurants have had recent favorable reviews in the New York Times, Via Magazine and ChowHound. Wine enthusiasts will also be in luck, with over 50 wineries just a short drive away. One of the most visited, and for good reason, is Korbel Wineries, which offers a free 45-minute tour with complimentary tasting at the end of the tour. Just a bit further north from Korbel off of River Road, you will find Westside Road. This beautiful drive is home to around 15 wineries, and leads you right into Healdsburg. Some restaurants also offer free corkage for locally purchased wines.
Plan to spend at least an afternoon in Armstrong Redwoods Natural State Reserve (see story next page), an 805-acre park near Guerneville. Hiking trails wind among giant redwoods, some of which are more than 1,400 years old with a diameter of 12-16 feet and are more than 300 feet tall. You can stroll through the level basin to a quiet picnic area, or take one of the great hikes that lead you up above the trees. Bicycling is allowed in the park, and several local companies rent bicycles.
You can also tour Armstrong Redwoods by Segway. These totally silent vehicles are ideal for the park (see story page 23).
Adjacent to Armstrong Redwoods and accessed through the same entrance is Austin Creek State
Recreation Area, a 4,200-acre reserve area of mountain and ridge-top backcountry perfect for a variety of recreational activities. Bullfrog Pond Campground has primitive campsites and fishing in the man-made lake. Horseback Riding is available at nearby Armstrong Woods Pack Station. There you can plan a trail ride or a more extensive pack trip.
Halfway between Guerneville and Monte Rio, Northwood Golf is an inviting and challenging 9-hole course that winds through the redwoods (see story next page). Monte Rio is a historic resort area known as “Vacation Wonderland”. The Monte Rio Beach is very accessible with some shallow areas for the small ones.
Just a few miles up Bohemian Highway from Monte Rio, Sonoma Canopy Tours is a pristine park-like setting with seven high-flying ziplines, two beautiful skybridges, a unique spiral staircase, and a thrilling rappel to the forest floor. Plan on 2.5 hours to do it all (see story page 20).
A little further up Bohemian Highway, the quaint village of Occidental is a great place to park the car and walk around the many shops and restaurants. Stop in at Barley & Hops for a local brew. Just a bit further up the road, grab an Enzyme Cedar Bath at Osmosis Day Spa. It is the perfect way to end your perfect day!
Going west from Monte Rio (toward the coast), you will find the community of Duncans Mills. This early stopping point for the train bringing San Francisco’s vacationers, and delivering the area’s timber back to San Francisco. Here you will find some very unique shops, galleries, restaurants and an excellent wine bar, with one of the most knowledgeable sommeliers in wine country.
If you continue to where the Russian River ends its journey, you will find yourself in Jenner by the Sea. This stunning little jewel of a town offers several fine restaurants and some very interesting ocean view lodging. You can even rent a kayak and paddle around the estuary. There are recent reports of Bald Eagle sightings around the estuary.
Russian River Resort Area is a favorite destination for LGBT vacationers, with several gay resorts and bars, as well as hosting the annual Lazy Bear Weekend each August, and two Women’s Weekends in Spring and Fall. According to baycitizen.org, “The Russian River resort town of Guerneville has the highest proportion of same-sex couples in the Bay Area, with 8.7 percent of all households headed by two men or two women.”
Things To Do in Russian River Resort Area:
59. Golf in the Redwoods at Northwood Golf Club
60. Walk Among the Giant Redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
61. Float down the Beautiful Russian River with Burke’s Canoe Trips
62. Ride a Bike Past Redwoods, Wineries and the River
63. Treat Yourself to the Ultimate Stay at Applewood Inn
64. Hit the Beach for a Jazz and Blues Weekend
27. Tour Wine Country and Redwoods on a Segway
21. Zip the Redwoods with Sonoma Canopy Tours
48. Treat Yourself to a Cedar Enzyme Bath
80. Have a Gourmet Brunch Tour on the Russian River
6. Have an EcoOdyssey Tour with EcoRing
1. Plan an EcoAdventure