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Looking to spend a weekend in Guerneville, California? After a dozen trips here, I’m sharing my favorite things to do, and where to stay and eat in Guerneville.

This part of Sonoma along the Russian River has been a longtime favorite of ours for years. When I lived in San Francisco, there were many day trips up the California coast, making a mandatory stop in Guerneville. It’s one of the best Bay Area day trips around!

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I’ve stayed overnight before in a cabin near Cazadero about 10 minutes up the river. Then this trip, I finally had the chance to spend two nights with my family in the actual town of Guerneville. It was so fun to revisit some of our favorite restaurants, travel with our toddler, and get outdoors to explore.

Guerneville lies right in the heart of the Russian River, surrounded by towering redwoods and a short drive from the ocean. What draws me most to this part of California is that it is a year-round destination. In the summer you can kayak the river, hiking is available year-round, and it’s always super scenic.

If you’re looking to plan your time in Guerneville, I’ve rounded up all of my favorite things from the years. Plus, I’m sharing all about the newest hotel (which is reason enough to plan a weekend) in Guerneville.

The town of Guerneville makes for a great stop on a Northern California coast road trip, pair it with time in Sonoma, or even as a stop along the way to the town of Sea Ranch.

Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for Where to Stay in Guerneville:

  1. Dawn Ranch, for the best all-around resort
  2. Highlands Resort, for the best adults-only resort
  3. AutoCamp Russian River, for the best glamping-style hotel

The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Guerneville


Things to Know Before Booking a Trip to Guerneville

What is Guerneville California Known For?

Guerneville, California, is primarily known for its picturesque location along the Russian River, which makes it a popular destination for outdoor activities like canoeing and tubing. It is also renowned for its proximity to Sonoma County’s wine country, offering wine enthusiasts access to numerous wineries in the region. Additionally, Guerneville has a strong LGBTQ+ community and hosts events like Pride parades, contributing to its reputation as an inclusive and welcoming destination.

Is Guerneville Worth a Visit?

If you enjoy outdoor activities like canoeing, hiking, and exploring natural beauty, the town’s location along the Russian River and its proximity to the redwood forests is amazing. Additionally, if you’re a wine enthusiast, the access to Sonoma County’s wine country makes it a convenient base for wine tasting. This is why I think Guerneville is absolutely worth a visit!

How Much Time Should I Spend in Guerneville?

I always like to recommend a long weekend in Guerneville to make the most of the trip. There is a lot to do here from wineries, and hikes, to spending time out at the ocean. There are about a half dozen or so great restaurants as well to try while here.

Where is Guerneville located?

Guerneville is located in Sonoma County in Northern California, USA. It is situated along the Russian River, approximately 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of San Francisco.


Where to Stay in Guerneville

Dawn Ranch

Weekend Guide to Guerneville (Best Things to Do)

The newest hotel to open its doors along the Russian River is Dawn Ranch. It’s a dream — like an elevated camp getaway in a small town. The individual cottages, chalets, and cabins make up the property along the river.

Weekend Guide to Guerneville (Best Things to Do)

My family and I spent two nights in their two-bedroom cottage and raved about the trip the entire time. The property is incredibly maintained, located on the river with its own orchard, and plenty of space to roam. You can walk into town, there is an amazing restaurant on site and even a spa.

I would not hesitate to book here, my one suggestion is to be on the riverside of the property if possible. It’s split across two sides so keep this in mind. Book the best rates here.

AutoCamp Russian River

AutoCamp Russian River offers a unique and luxurious outdoor lodging experience in the heart of California’s Russian River Valley. Guests can enjoy stylish Airstream trailers or glamping tents, all nestled in a beautiful natural setting, making it the perfect destination for a glamping getaway. Book the best rates here.

Boon Hotel + Spa

Boon Hotel + Spa is a charming boutique hotel and wellness retreat located in the scenic town of Guerneville, California. Its tranquil atmosphere, cozy accommodations, and full-service spa provide a relaxing and rejuvenating escape in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Book the best rates here.

Highlands Resort

Highlands Resort is a welcoming destination nestled in the Redwoods of Guerneville, California. This rustic yet comfortable resort offers cozy cabins and a relaxed atmosphere, making it an ideal retreat for couples and friends seeking a tranquil escape in the beautiful Russian River Valley. Book the best rates here.

The Stavrand Russian River Valley

The Stravrand is a luxury boutique hotel with several guestrooms in the Russian River valley. The rooms are well-appointed, and it has a well-known restaurant on the property. Book the best rates here.


Where to Eat in Guerneville

The Lodge at Dawn Ranch

Our favorite meals of the weekend were all at Dawn Ranch if I’m being honest. The Lodge open to everyone (reservations are recommended on the weekends). The menu here is fantastic, and with the well-known Argentine chef Fernando Trocca who does the food. Dinner is fantastic, brunch is memorable, and the setting is stunning. I would come in for a few different meals while visiting.

BROT

A classic in Guerneville is BROT, a German-pub-style restaurant. The food is amazing, we loved everything from the schnitzel to the brats here. And the German beers on draft made it even more lovely!

El Barrio

We’ve been to El Barrio several times over the years, and always love the food here. It’s Mexican cantina style, laidback, and a great cocktail list.

Boon Eat + Drink

Boon Eat + Drink is a popular restaurant located in Guerneville, California, known for its farm-to-table cuisine and a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. I’ve been in once and love Chef Crista Luedtke’s food.

Guerneville Taco Truck

If you’re looking for something casual and delicious, don’t hesitate on the Guerneville Taco Truck parked in front of Safeway. The burritos and tacos are some of our favorites.

Piknik Town Market (Formally Big Bottom Market)

Weekend Guide to Guerneville (Best Things to Do)

I don’t know if we ordered wrong at Piknik, but I opted for a salad which I wish I hadn’t. I’d come back to do the classic biscuits which is what they are known for.

Nimble & Finn’s

Weekend Guide to Guerneville (Best Things to Do)

Nimble & Finn’s is your one-stop shop for baked goods, artisanal ice cream, and a small wine shop.

Trillium Winebar & Taproom

One of the newer fine dining experiences to open in the Russian River Valley, Trillium is a small plates and drinks kind of spot. They have oysters on the half-shell, charcuterie boards, and a wonderful wine list.


Things to Do in Guerneville

Go Hiking in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

This is such a favorite spot to go hiking amongst the redwoods and is super family-friendly. The parking is very limited here ($10 a vehicle) so you’ll want to get an early start when visiting. The easiest trails to do are the Pioneer Nature Trail and the Armstrong Redwoods Grove Loop Trail. You can see redwood trees here and it’s canopied well so not a ton of sun exposure.

Book a Wine Tasting in Sonoma County

There are several wineries with a tasting room in the region you can pick from to go for a tasting, a lot are known for white varietals and pinot noir. If I were to make an excursion of a morning out, I would do this: I’d drive to Healdsburg to visit the town in the morning, and then book the first appointment at Jordan Winery just outside of town.

Stroll Downtown Guerneville and See Art Galleries

Weekend Guide to Guerneville (Best Things to Do)

The downtown is on the quieter side in terms of shops and things to see but there are a few galleries you can peruse while there. Some include the Russian River Art Gallery and Oli which may be worth a visit depending on your taste.

Soak in a Tub at the Spa at Dawn Ranch

One of my favorite experiences on this last trip was time spent at the spa at Dawn Ranch. Open to the public, this spa is incredibly beautiful and integrated with its surroundings. One of the classic experiences is an outdoor soak in a wood tub that you can fill with magnesium flakes. I highly recommend booking a treatment here in advance.

Kayak Down the Russian River

If the season is right, getting out on the Russian River is a must. There are many outfitters up and down the shores of the river, so kind of depends on where you’d like to start. I’ve grabbed kayaks down at Monte Rio Public Beach and at Johnson Beach Kayak and Rube Rental.

Head Out to The Coast

You’re only about a 25-minute drive out to the Pacific Ocean. So if you’re looking to get out that way, it’s well worth it. You’ll hit Jenner as you make your way out there. Goat Rock Beach is our favorite for a good stroll and time along the ocean. You’ll often see harbor seals and sea lions here at the Jenner Sea Lion Restplace, too. If you need a bit to eat, don’t miss Cafe Aquatica as well.

Spend time at Johnson’s Beach

Weekend Guide to Guerneville (Best Things to Do)

For the summer season, Johnson’s Beach is the life of the party in Guerneville. A lot of people get in here for tubes and kayaks, as well as day use for the beach. Make sure to bring shade if you’re coming to spend the day.


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Xx,
Jessica

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