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20 Best Things to do in Guerneville, California

20 Best Things to do in Guerneville, California

If you’re looking for things to do in Guerneville, California, you’ve landed in the right spot. We’ve come up with a list of some of the best things to do in this quirky and eclectic Northern California town in the Russian River Valley.

Founded as a logging town in the 1850s (by the Guerne family), Guerneville sits among the redwoods, rivers, and Americana heavy, laid-back charm of Sonoma County.

Along with its early logging life, Guerneville was a 19th Century vacation destination for San Francisco families and a popular concert and resort area in the 1930s.

Within easy access to Sonoma Wine Country (there are more than 50 wineries within 20 minutes) and a variety of outdoor attractions, activities, and quintessentially America things.

Guerneville is a great destination for families, couples, and groups wanting to hike, swim, kayak, and take special interest tours of wineries, vineyards, a state park, and other fun places, dripping with America.

Tickled that Americana nostalgia fancy yet? Keep reading to check out all the fun America things to do in Guerneville and the gorgeous Russian River Valley!

Where is Guerneville, California?

guerneville
Image by Ocean654 / CC BY 2.5

Just where is Guerneville, California, anyway?

It’s located along the Russian River, which is about a 1.5-hour drive north of San Francisco. It’s approximately a 1.5-hour drive south of Point Arena on the Pacific coast. Santa Rosa is just west of Guerneville.

Guerneville is about a 30-minute-drive from nearby Healdsburg. The fog-shrouded hills of Napa Valley are approximately an hour away.

Getting to Guerneville, California

Charles M. Schulz (yes, Snoopy’s creator) Sonoma County Airport (ASA) is the closest airport to Guerneville. It’s about 15 miles away. Oakland International Airport (OAK) is approximately 69 miles away and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is about 70 miles from Guerneville.

TLDR; Our Favorites in Guerneville

Need quick answers about the best places in Guerneville, California? We’ve got the gen right here!

  • Best Budget Hotel in Guerneville: Cottages on River Road
  • Best Mid-Range Hotel in Guerneville: West Sonoma Inn & Spa
  • Best Luxury Hotel in Guerneville: Boon Hotel + Spa
  • Best Outdoor Activity in Guerneville: Zip-lining through the redwoods
  • Most Well-Known Attraction in Guerneville: Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
  • Best Family-Friendly Activity in Guerneville: Johnson’s Beach

Best Things to do in Guerneville

1. Relax Along a Riverfront Beach

Johnsons Beach
Image from Johnsons Beach, Russian River Facebook Page

Johnson’s Beach is a large beach area on the Russian River. It’s popular for swimming, sunbathing, and canoeing in cool river waters. The pebble beach is backed by the redwood trees of Armstrong Redwoods State.

You can rent kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats at Johnson Beach. There’s a snack bar for hot dogs, burgers, and the like as well as a Boathouse bar for wine, beer, and frosty beverages. There’s a boat launch if you happen to trailer a boat.

2. Float Down the River

russianriver
Image by bdearthCC BY 2.0.

Rent an inner tube or bring your own to float leisurely down the Russian River. Take a two-mile stretch from Steelhead Beach to Sunset Beach.

It takes approximately four hours to float your way down. It’s only about a five-minute drive, so be sure to park a car at one end and have another car parked at the other end to make it easy. You don’t want to have to walk along the road after a day in the sun.

The river is quite slow, so you’ll want to start early enough that you don’t spend time in the dark. For day trips, food and water are a must. Bring a waterproof (and better yet, floating) cooler for day trips food and beverage storage.

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in the World

3. Walk Among Redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

Tall Trees in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

You can’t go to California without visiting the world’s tallest trees. Hiking trails range from easy to moderate and advanced. For an easy hike, take the Pioneer Nature Trail to Armstrong Tree for a 1.7-mile hike. The East Ridge Trail is a medium hike at 2.2 miles.

For a harder hike, go past East Ridge Trail to Gilliam Creek Trail for a 5.6-mile hike among 300-foot-tall trees.

If you’re not into the self-guided trekking scene, take a guided tour of Armstrong Redwood State Reserve that includes a stop at Kendall Jackson Winery.

Special interest tours take you on a tour of the winery and vineyards before enjoying a four-course menu in the culinary garden. Vegetables from the winery’s gardens, and fruit from the vineyards, provides produce to many of Northern California’s finest restaurants.

4. Go Zip-Lining

Man in Zipline

Join Sonoma Canopy Tours for a zip-lining adventure at speeds up to 40 miles per hour through the natural beauty of the redwoods.

Soar through the sky as you zip along seven ziplines, two sky bridges, and rappel (all at 250 feet above the ground). The longest zip is 1500 feet long, and the total length is an exciting 2,907 feet long.

See Related: 20 Fun & Best Things to Do in Healdsburg, California

5. Indulge in Taco Time

Plate of Delicious Taco

Whether it’s Tuesday or not, check out the Guerneville Taco Truck. It’s typically parked at the local Safeway and has been run by the Vazquez family for more than 30 years.

Enjoy Jalisco-style street tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Popular with locals, the taco truck is a destination for visiting foodies.

See Related: Most Exotic Places in California to Visit

6. Sip Sonoma’s Best Vino

Group Drinking Wine

When in Sonoma, there’s nothing more iconic than wine tasting and day tours of wineries and vineyards.

Among many others, check out Equality Vines Tasting Room, Korbel Winery, Porter-Bass, and Rio Crest for the best California wines in the area. Equality Vines curates wines from other wineries to benefit charitable causes.

Try local red, white, rose, and pinot noir varieties on wine tasting day trips.

7. Check out Local Art Galleries

Located in the Russian River area, art galleries like Blue Door Gallery, Oli Gallery, and Russian River Art Gallery feature unique paintings, sculptures, pottery, and drawings from local and international artists.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

8. Browse the Street Art Scene

Man Looking At Mural

The Guerneville Mural, located in a parking lot near Lark Drugs Pharmacy, features a starry night vibe a la Van Gogh. Check it out while you’re traveling along River Road or heading back from a state park.

For even more street art murals, head to Santa Rosa or Petaluma.

9. Shop Till Ya Drop

Woman Checking High-Heeled Shoes

Check out the art galleries, coffee shops, boutiques, eclectic shops, and good restaurants on River Road. Browse apparel, antiques, greeting cards, and other unique findings at River Queen Handmade & Collectibles, River Queen Clothing, Rio Rio, Sonoma Nesting Company, and more.

10. Relax in the Park

russianriver 1
Image by Lasthib / CC BY-SA 3.0

Guerneville River Park, a small day-use park, is on the south side of the Russian River. There are picnic facilities, restrooms, and walking trails along with river views. This Guerneville, California park is a relaxing spot after hiking around Armstrong Redwoods State Park.

See Related: Best Waterfalls in California

11. Practice your Golf Game

Setting Golf Ball

Open since 1948, Pee Wee Golf & Arcade is the perfect place to unwind with the fam after a day of exploring redwoods and hiking up hills.

Play a game of 18-hole mini-golf among giant dinosaurs, kangaroos, and other interesting statues in downtown Guerneville. It’s one of the top attractions in Guerneville, California.

12. Learn how to Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP)

Small Kid Paddling While Standing

Russian River Paddle Boards is the place to go if you want to rent a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or take a tour. If you’ve never been on a SUP, we suggest a tour. The balancing act can be tricky, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’re good to go.

13. Check out the Local Produce

Newly Harvest Cherries

Depending on the season, you can pick a basket of strawberry, rhubarb, blueberries, apples, and more at local orchards.

Of course, there is a bounty of farmers’ markets where you can simply purchase fruit and vegetables without the added labor of picking them yourself. You are on vacation, after all.

Visit Imwalle Gardens or Quetzal Farm in Santa Rosa or Lao Strawberries and Hale’s Apple Farm in Sebastopol. All are within 30 minutes of Guerneville, California.

14. Enjoy Farm-to-Table Fare

Boon Eat And Drink
Image from Boon Eat + Drink Facebook Page

The fruits of Northern California are alive and well in Guerneville. You’ll want to visit all of the unique restaurants, cafes, and bars in this fun and funky town. But if you only have time for a few, here are our suggestions.

Boon Eat Drink, located on Main Street, features absolutely delicious organic and farm-to-table selections such as polenta lasagna, seared duck breast, flash-fried Brussel sprouts, veggie burgers, and vegan bowls.

BROT offers modern German cuisine in a Bavarian-inspired setting. Join Chef Christa Luedtke for schnitzel, sausages, and more. If you happen to be in town during Oktoberfest, you know there will be a party going on.

Timberline is a down-home take on fresh Sonoma county flavors. Try poutine, coconut shrimp, eggplant parmesan, fish & chips, prime rib, and more at this Guerneville restaurant located in the historic Buck’s Roadhouse building.

For dining accompanied by jazz, blues, folk, indy, and acoustic music, head to Main Street Bistro. On weekends, you can take in a cabaret show. Locally farmed and organic selections include salmon, fish, crab cakes, polenta, prime rib, and artisan pizza.

15. Get Your Culture On

Jerry Knights River Theater
Image from Jerry Knights River Theater Facebook Page

Check out a performance by local and traveling actors with the nomadic theater company. Performances are held in different locations around town by the Pegasus Theater.

Jerry Knight’s River Theater, built in 1947, was originally a movie theater. It has since hosted burlesque shows, comedy, and live music from artists such as Emmylou Harris, the Jerry Garcia Band, Frank Sinatra, and Ricky Nelson.

The theater has since come into its own with a makeover that now features a dance floor, a state-of-the-art lighting system, and a powerful sound system. Recent artists to hit the stage for speaking or singing include George Lucas, the Zac Brown Band, Paul McCartney, and R.E.M.

16. Savor the Nightlife

El Barrio in Guerneville
Image from El Barrio – Guerneville Facebook Page

For nightlife adventure, head out to El Barrio for tequila, mezcal, and bourbon (oh, and there’s food, too). You could also visit McT’s Bullpen sports bar for billiards and televised sporting events or indulge in Mason jar-sized drinks at Rainbow Cattle Company.

Don’t party too hard. you’ll want to be rested up for a day at Armstrong Redwoods State Park, the national seashore, or other local attractions and activities.

17. Start the Morning, and Prepare for Noon, at Big Bottom Market

Big Bottom Market
Image from Big Bottom Market Facebook Page

If you do happen to party too hard, there’s nothing better than the fresh local fare found at the gourmet deli/farmers’ market at Big Bottom Market.

Order the famous Sea Biscuit from the Biscuit Bar. This cheddar/thyme biscuit with smoked salmon will hit the spot.

They also do box lunches if you’re looking for a picnic to take to Reyes National Seashore, Armstrong Redwoods State Park, or other attractions in Sonoma County. Pick up a bottle of wine for later.

Another option for a boxed lunch meal is The Farmhand. Choose from sandwich selections like Reuben paninis, chicken salad, and hot pastrami. This Guerneville, California deli also has vegan options and can do custom orders such as avocado toast.

18. Spend the Day at Doran Beach

About a 45-minute-drive from Guerneville and Armstrong redwoods, Doran Beach is a relaxing beach and makes a great day trip for families and larger groups who want to enjoy the ocean on their weekend getaway Guerneville trip. It’s along Bodega Bay.

Save Doran Beach for a day when you want to check out the Pacific Ocean. You may even be able to spot whales and sea lions and catch crabs.

See Related: Best Beach Vacation Spots in the World

19. Take a Day Trip to Reyes National Seashore

Cliff and Ocean view From Reyes National Seashore
Image by Dougtone / CC BY-SA 2.0.

At about a 1.25-hour-drive, Reyes National Seashore makes a terrific day trip from Guerneville. Visit the remote beaches and outdoor wildlife such as sea lions. You can sometimes spot whales as well as catch crabs and fish.

Bring your camera for shots of the relaxing beach and picture-perfect white lighthouse at Point Reyes as well as the remote beaches, fog shrouded hills, and outdoor wildlife at the coastal park.

The visitor center can provide information on history, nature, and all aspects of the coastal park, including the picture-perfect white lighthouse at Reyes National Seashore.

20. Sonoma Coast State Park

Shoreline and Ocean View
Image by malfet_ / CC BY 2.0

Sonoma Coast State Park runs from Jenner to Bodega Head.

You can enjoy 17 miles of coves, rugged rocks, Pacific Ocean views, and coastal activities like hiking, picnicking, sightseeing, and fishing and boating in Bodega Bay. Watch for whales at Bodega Head. 

Due to the rough current, unstable rocks, and very cold water, this is not a swimming beach. There are no lifeguards, so you’ll want to look and not touch. 

There are campsites at Sonoma Coast State Park. It’s actually one of the only state park campgrounds near the Russian River.

Campgrounds include Bodega Dunes Campground, Wright’s Beach Campground, Willow Creek Campground, and Pomo Canyon Campground.

Willow Creek and Pomo Canyon are “environmental campgrounds,” which means they have very few amenities. The other two have bathrooms. Bodega Dunes even has showers.

See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November

Best Places to Stay in Guerneville

Guerneville has a variety of budget, mid-range, and luxury hotels within easy access to area activities and attractions. Check out Booking.com or Expedia Group Company for the best rates and amenities.

Expedia Group Company often offers free cancellation. If you’re not sure of your getaway dates, free cancellation is a lifesaver.

Access discounts by checking the hotel and booking websites periodically to access discounts that may just pop up. You’ll find free content to plan a great vacation or weekend getaway to Guerneville.

Budget Hotels in Guerneville

Cottages on River Road

Cottages on River Road
Image from Booking.com

Located on River Road, Cottages on River Road features individual cottages facing a courtyard with seating and a firepit. Enjoy s’mores and maybe a ghost story or two. Every cottage has a private balcony or a patio.

Guest rooms have a mini-fridge, a coffee machine, a flat-screen TV with cable, and free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Stone-lined walkways are bordered by hydrangeas, greenery, and twinkling tealights. There’s an outdoor pool at this super cute cottage accommodation near the Armstrong redwoods.

R3 Hotel

R3 Hotel
Image from TripAdvisor

The R3 Hotel is located on the Russian River. The boutique hotel has 23 rooms, each with a coffee maker, a microwave, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi.

There’s an outdoor pool, a bar, and an entertainment stage with a variety of weekly events and special features. Check out the Main Bar to get in on the nightlife adventure and a game of billiards. Guests must be 21 or older to stay at this Guerneville hotel.

Mid-Range Hotels in Guerneville

West Sonoma Inn & Spa

Two Bed Hotel Room In West Sonoma Inn And Spa
Photo by Booking.com

The West Sonoma Inn & Spa is about a five-minute walk to the beach. Some rooms have a kitchen with a microwave, a mini-fridge, a minibar, and a patio with garden views. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, grilling facilities, and a sun terrace. Rooms are decked out in soothing colors with bright accents.

After a day of exploring Guerneville and redwood trees at Armstrong Redwoods State Park, relax around the fire pit in the outdoor seating area. Pet-friendly rooms are available for an extra cost.

This is a great hotel for exploring the outdoor activities of Sonoma County, Armstrong Redwoods State Park, and Doran Beach.

Highlands Resort

Fully Furnished Fireplace with Seats
Image from Booking.com

Quiet and relaxing, the adults-only Highlands Resort offers cottage accommodations set among gardens, flowers, and greenery.

Special features include a garden, a terrace, and a sparkling outdoor pool. Rooms are stylish and cozy with retro furniture and free Wi-Fi. Some rooms have oversized soaking tubs and fireplaces.

If you need more amenities, choose a Kitchen Cabin, which is a one-bedroom cabin with a kitchenette, a vintage chrome and Formica dining table, and a seating area.

This Guerneville hotel is a great choice for wine tasting day tours and weekend getaways to Armstrong Redwoods State Park, Doran Beach, the national seashore at Point Reyes, and other attractions in Guerneville.

See Related: Do Hotels Take Cash? Things to Know

Highland Dell Lodge

Lodge by the River
Image from Expedia

Highland Dell Lodge, located on the Russian River, is within easy access to Armstrong Redwoods, Johnson’s Beach, and Korbel Champagne Cellars. The pet-friendly hotel offers free breakfast and Wi-Fi. There’s an on-site restaurant and a bar.

The lodge-like exterior makes it the perfect setting for weddings, kayak trips, and family vacations.

Inn on the Russian River

Charming Room at Inn on the Russian River
Image from Booking.com

The pet-friendly Inn on the Russian River hotel sits among trees and outdoor adventures on the Russian River. Guests can enjoy free breakfast and free Wi-Fi at this pet-friendly hotel.

Adorable cottage-style rooms feature pine paneling, counter space, a mini-fridge, a microwave, extra seating, and patios with furniture. Spend the afternoon or evening relaxing in the garden or grilling steaks for family and friends. 

Luxury Hotels in Guerneville

Boon Hotel + Spa

Pool and Outdoor Space in Boon Hotel + Spa
Image from Booking.com

Boon Hotel + Spa is found along the road to the dense grove of the world’s tallest trees at Armstrong Redwoods. This adults-only boutique hotel has a saltwater pool, a hot tub, a bar, a restaurant, a garden, and a modern spa offering massage therapy and foot and facial treatments.

Glamping tents and a vintage “lovebug” camper are also available. This Guerneville hotel is a beautiful choice for wedding receptions, special events, and a weekend getaway.

Guest rooms offer luxury linens, designer bath products, and lovely reclaimed redwood furniture. Some rooms are pet friendly. The hotel is named after a former four-legged resident, after all.

This luxury Guerneville, California hotel is the perfect spot to recharge after a day at Reyes National Seashore, Armstrong Redwoods State Park, and other fun things in Guerneville, California. You’ll also want to save Doran Beach for a day trip.

The Stavrand Hotel

Spacious Bedroom in Stavrand Hotel
Image from Booking.com

Located along the Russian River, the Stavrand Hotel has a pool, a hot tub, a restaurant, a bar, and an on-site coffee house to complement the three guest room buildings.

Elegant rooms feature charming touches such as custom wallcoverings, artwork, and modern furnishings. Some guest rooms have fireplaces and soaking tubs. Bring on the bubbles and relaxation!

There’s a garden and a courtyard terrace with comfy outdoor seating at the Stavrand Hotel. The spa offers fitness classes and massage services.

Enjoy an a la carte breakfast and fireside s’mores at this Guerneville, California hotel after an active day of hiking through a dense grove of redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Park. Sonoma Coast State Park is about 16 miles away.

Camellia Inn

Luxurious Room In Camellia Inn Bed And Breakfast
Image from Expedia

The Camellia Inn bed and breakfast, located in Healdsburg, dates to 1871 and offers a step back in time with its cozy sitting and dining room and antique furnishings.

Guest rooms have carved headboards, four-poster beds, and decorative wallcoverings. Some rooms have fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and extra seating. We would pick this one for its pink exterior alone. 

A sparkling pool is surrounded by lush greenery, colorful flowers, and trailing vines. And, of course, there are gardens filled with Victorian camellias, peonies, rose bushes, dogwoods, and a fish pond.

Guests receive free Wi-Fi and daily breakfast as well as complimentary wine tastings at all Wilson Artisan Wineries. 

The inn is near the Francis Ford Coppola Winery and about 30 minutes to downtown Guernevilla. For an upscale bed and breakfast near all the activities and attractions of Sonoma County, we give the Camellia Inn two thumbs up.

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