Insider’s Guide to Guerneville

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  • by HANA-LEE SEDGWICK
  • on JULY 1, 2022
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Surrounded by natural beauty, the small Russian River town of Guerneville is a popular destination in the summer months for its sunshine-filled days, river activities, and nearby hiking trails. Add in a great local food scene and down-to-earth vibe and it’s no wonder Guerneville — a longtime getaway for the LBGTQ+ community of the Bay Area — attracts visitors all year long. Whether you come to immerse yourself in nature or to sip local wine, here’s an insider’s guide to where to stay and what to do and see in the colorful town of Guerneville.

1
Lodging / Guerneville

The Stavrand Russian River Valley

For a dose of romance in the Russian River, head to this Mediterranean-style boutique inn surrounded by peaceful gardens and towering redwoods. Each of the 21 rooms and suites are comfortable and inviting, and, thanks to the hotel's noteworthy gourmet breakfast, tranquil pool, and onsite signature spa treatments, you’ll have all you need for a relaxing stay in Wine Country. Dedicated to sustainability, the inn also composts, uses solar energy, and grows their own organic fruits and vegetables.

Insider Tip

Don’t miss dining at The Restaurant at Stavrand, a fine dining restaurant serving Cal-Mediterranean cuisine inspired by the bounty of Sonoma County, including from the hotel's own culinary garden.

Image courtesy of The Stavrand

Details Visit Website
2
Lodging / Guerneville

Autocamp

AutoCamp has locations in destinations like Zion and Joshua Tree, but there’s something extra special about sleeping amid a redwood forest in Sonoma Wine Country. Stay in one of the modern Airstreams or canvas tents, and enjoy amenities designed to make you feel right at home – think high thread count sheets and spa-inspired bathrooms. Sleeping arrangements aside, there’s no need to rough it here, as a stay includes access to the mid-century chic clubhouse lounge and general store, as well as complimentary bikes, coffee, tea, and Wi-Fi.

Insider Tip

While certain AutoCamp locations offer pre-made meals for heating up onsite, their Russian River locale only has breakfast, lunch, and dinner ingredients available at the store – perfect for cooking up a delicious glamp-worthy meal on your personal fire pit grill.

Image courtesy of AutoCamp

Details Visit Website
3
Lodging / Guerneville

Boon Hotel + Spa

The modern, minimalist 14-room boon hotel + spa fuses upscale amenities and a hip vibe into an eco-chic, adults-only hotel in the Russian River. Spend the day relaxing by the solar-heated saline pool, cocktail in hand, or opt for a spa treatment onsite, then soak in the hot tub under the stars at night. Complimentary bikes, spa-like bath products, and breakfast delivered to your room sweeten the deal.

Insider Tip

For a slightly more rustic experience, stay in one of the hotel’s glamping tents, available during the summer season, or the vintage “Lovebug” camper available year round. You’ll enjoy the same luxuries as the rest of the hotel, like organic linens and breakfast delivered to your room, but with a slightly more camplike vibe. Just know that much like staying at a campsite, bath facilities are shared.

Image courtesy of boon hotel + spa

Details Visit Website
4
Restaurants /

Big Bottom Market

Whether you’re looking to start your day with coffee and a bite or need to pick up all the fixings for the perfect picnic, Big Bottom Market is a one-stop shop for all your Wine Country needs. From pre-made salads and artisanal cheeses to local jams and even a great selection of local wines, don’t be surprised if you visit here more than once.

Insider Tip

Don’t miss trying one of the breakfast biscuits, which made the list of Oprah’s favorite things. Go simple with a smear of mascarpone and honey, or try the local favorite, The Sea Biscuit, which combines smoked salmon, créme fraiche, pickled onions, and capers for a salty, satisfying way to start the day.

Image courtesy of Facebook: Big Bottom Market

Details Visit Website
5
Restaurants / Guerneville

Boon Eat + Drink

This beloved modern bistro serves up flavorful California fare from Chef Crista Luedtke within its inviting location in the heart of Guerneville. Local and seasonal items dominate the menu — some even grown in the restaurant’s own gardens — and in keeping with the theme, the restaurant serves exclusively Russian River-made wines and microbrews.

Insider Tip

While you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, it’s certainly worth your while to order the famous Brussel Sprouts, served perfectly crisped with chili flakes, garlic, lemon, and olive oil.

Image courtesy of Facebook: boon eat + drink

Details Visit Website
6
Restaurants /

BROT Guerneville

BROT is the latest venture by Guerneville entrepreneur Crista Luedtke (of boon hotel and restaurant fame), who partnered with Margareth Van Der Veen on this modern German concept restaurant. The menu features classic Bavarian favorites, from sausages and schnitzels to smoked herring and spätzel, paired with a selection of German wine and beer.

Insider Tip

“Brot” may translate to “bread” in German, but it also means “livelihood.” Given the owners’ commitment to the livelihood of hospitality and appreciation for those in the restaurant industry, a 20% service charge is added to all checks to help pay equitable wages to the entire staff.

Image courtesy of BROT

Details Visit Website
7
Things To Do / Guerneville

El Barrio

This modern Mexican cocktail lounge, also owned by Crista Luedtke, is a fun place to cozy up for a night of south of the border-inspired snacks and drinks. Enjoy a handcrafted cocktail from the tequila, mezcal, and bourbon-focused list as you nibble on house-made corn chips and melty queso.

Insider Tip

While the cocktails may be the star of the show (El Jardin is a local favorite), there’s a small selection of Mexican beer, local wine, and even non-alcoholic beverages available.

Image courtesy of El Barrio

Details Visit Website
8
Wineries / Sebastopol

Iron Horse Vineyards

Head to Iron Horse to sample wine from the casual, rustic outdoor tasting room overlooking the vineyards below. Don’t let the laid back experience fool you, though — the winery is known for producing a variety of tasty sparkling wine and single-vineyard still wines that are sure to impress.

Insider Tip

It’s all about love and bubbles at Iron Horse. Don’t miss sampling the popular Wedding Cuvee — an easy drinking bubbly that will have you toasting to the union of marriage. And be sure to also try the Rainbow Cuvee, a vintage blanc de blancs made to celebrate equality in love.


Image courtesy of Iron Horse Vineyards

Details Visit Website
9
Wineries / Healdsburg

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Established in 1982, Gary Farrell’s Vineyards & Winery sits on top of a ridge providing amazing views of the Russian River Valley. Spectacular vistas aside, the winery offers a variety of worthy tasting experiences, including the Inspiration Tasting — a tasting focused on six of California’s most highly allocated vineyard designate pinot noirs paired with housemade small bites.

Insider Tip

All tastings at Gary Farrell are seated and include a dedicated wine educator, so plan to stay a while and enjoy the views as you learn and sip.

Image courtesy of Gary Farrell

Details Visit Website
10
Restaurants / Guerneville

Guerneville Bank Club

Housed in a former historic bank built in 1921, The Bank Club is a place where history, local artisan goods, and wine all exist under one roof. Here, grab a scoop of handmade, organic ice cream in innovative flavors at Nimble & Finn’s, browse the curated collection of wine and unique gifts at The Wine Vault, and learn about the history of the area through the Russian River Historical Society’s exhibitions.

Insider Tip

Nimble & Finn’s ice cream flavors are inspired by the local bounty of the region. Don’t miss the award-winning Strawberry Buttermilk, ideal for the summer season, or opt for something unique and (slightly) boozy, like their Maple Bourbon Bacon Brittle or Plum Bourbon Swirl.

Image courtesy of Facebook: Nimble & Finn’s Ice Cream

Details Visit Website
11
Things To Do / Healdsburg

Getaway Adventures

While we’d never discourage spending a lazy afternoon floating the river on an inner tube, it’s also fun to explore the Russian River via kayak. Getaway Adventures offers guided and self-guided kayak tours along the river, suitable for most ages and all abilities. There’s no better way to experience the area’s scenery, wildlife, and peaceful setting.

Insider Tip

For a slightly more adventurous outing, try the Kayak, Bike, and Wine Tasting tour from Getaway Adventures, which starts with a bike ride through the Dry Creek Valley – with a stop for wine! – and ends with a leisurely kayak along the Russian River.

Image courtesy of Getaway Adventures

Details Visit Website
12
Things To Do /

Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve Park

Located just a short drive from Guerneville, Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is a must visit destination while in the Russian River Valley. Standing beneath the towering redwoods, most of which are over 500 years old, you’ll feel humbled by the endurance of the natural surroundings and awed by mother nature’s grandeur.

Insider Tip

All of the main park features can be found along the Pioneer Nature Trail, a mile and a half trail that’s mostly flat and ADA accessible. An easy 0.1 mile walk from the entrance will find you at the largest tree in the park, The Parson Jones Tree, which stands 310 feet tall and is an astonishing 1,400 years old.

Image courtesy of California State Parks

Details Visit Website

Hana-Lee Sedgwick

Hana-Lee Sedgwick, based in her hometown of Santa Barbara, California, specializes in West Coast wine, food and travel. Her work has appeared in publications including Santa Barbara Magazine, The Tasting Panel, and 7×7. She loves to travel, stay active, and share food and wine with friends. Follow her on Instagram at @wanderandwine or visit her blog, wanderandwine.com.