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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Sanchez

Russian River. How this spot is now a hot destination in California

For many years this has been a secluded area that only locals know of. Not anymore and here is why now this Sonoma County town is trending.

If you live in the Bay Area the chances of knowing the Russian River area are pretty high. We all have been there, so relaxing, so nature-connected, the friendliest people… but it has changed, improved and now is a hot destination not only for Bay Area residents, but for visitors from all over the country.

Personally, this is one of my favorite places in the U.S. I’ve already written about Sonoma County and now I want to focus on Guerneville and Monte Rio, just five miles in between. Driving distance from San Francisco is about 80 miles North on Highway 101.

It all depends what you want to do in the area, from outdoor activities to fine dining. Both Monte Rio and Guerneville have many options for the diverse visitors. First of all, there are many vacation rentals there, just look on VRBOor better yet Airbnb, depending on your budget the options are unlimited. There are some hotels there, in Monte Rio I’d recommend the Village Inn, has the best views of the river, very quaint, and their restaurant it’s actually very good. My preference is staying at the vacation rental properties offered all over the place, this gives you the opportunity to visit with more people, have cookouts, game night, sit by the fireplaces and feel more at home…

During the day there are so many activities, definitely the river being the main attraction. I suggest that you rent a kayak or canoe, this can be easily done at the Monte Rio public beach, rent it in the morning and return by 5.00pm. From the river you can see more of the properties along the river, which the majority date back to between the 1930's and 1950's. Wildlife is very diverse, from ducks, to hawks to even harbor seals, yes, I’ve spotted a few coming up the stream to feed themselves and then back to the ocean. Keep in mind that the Pacific ocean is only about 7 miles from Monte Rio. Swimming there is very common and safe too, it’s a lazy river after all.

In the Summer time there are many activities, 4th of July is a big one and fireworks get launched from the Monte Rio bridge. Other events include the Jazz festival, Lazy Bear weekend, Apple and tomato festivals, Sonoma county fair, not to even mention all the wineries and vineyards in the area that host different activities, like Francis Ford Coppola winery, Gary Farrell, Hop Kiln, J Vineyards, Korbel and more. Take the day off, hire a driver and venture yourself on the back roads taking you to all these different wineries.

Hiking is another popular activity, check out Armstrong woods and admire the ancient Redwoods, creating the unique environment of these creatures and all the different fauna that lives in the woods. Another really great hike is driving out to the Pacific Coast and righ South of Jenner you can find Goat Rock state beach with breathtaking views of the Ocean.

There is a visitor center in downtown Guerneville and they have more information on all those activities. Definitely a big gay-friendly area, since the 60’s implementing the “No Hate Zone” everyone is welcomed. The Rainbow Cattle Company is the best gay bar in town and has been an institution for decades, something worth checking out and having a refreshing drink on a hot Summer day.

But Summer is not the only season to visit here, all the other seasons have their own charm, September and October is Indian Summer and temperatures rise well above the average than the rest of the country, an extended Summer and crush season at all the vineyards. Then rain starts around November, bringing with it the Fall, and there are many wine festivals between September and November, with the grapes crushing, producing the best Sonoma wines. The town transforms into a perfect Fall getaway, fireplaces warming up the cabins, pumpkins placed on porches and the river transforms into a serene relaxing and peaceful place.

If you’re in search of the perfect vacation with activities, places to see, great wines and friendly people then this is your spot! For more information on the area check out or

Enjoy the Summer and hit me up with specific questions about Sonoma’s Russian River if you’re planning your own trip.

This is Sonoma County, this is Russian River.

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