Since the late 1800s wealthy San Franciscans have been heading north to holiday in Guerneville, a former redwood logging town nestled on the banks of the Russian River.
It’s close to the breathtaking Sonoma Coast and you can stay in a stylish spa hotel, eat fresh seafood, visit myriad wineries, kayak and generally kick back. We recommend a hotel set back from the river but if you’re travelling with the family the rental houses that line the river look idyllic. There’s camping, too.
Eat and Drink
When you’ve recharged the batteries, visit some of the wineries or head for the Sonoma coast, which comes a close second to Big Sur. On Friday nights listen to blues, eat a pizza and have a beer among the redwoods at Elim Grove & Raymond's Bakery (5400 Cazadero Highway, Cazadero) or visit the historic Rio Movie Theatre and Café at Monte Rio. For some seriously good eating in town, at Boon’s own Eat+Drink they serve small plates, charcuterie, artisan cheeses, salads and mains alongside Russian River wines and micro brews from Sonoma and Mendocino. And revel in the great oysters, shellfish, chowders, seafood noodle soups and fish tacos at Seaside Metal Oyster Bar.
The expanses of sand that line the river are called beaches and a beach aesthetic permeates Boon Hotel and Spa, with its fresh, white, shack-style rooms with sliding shutter doors that open onto a patio overlooking the pool. Have a spa, swim, relax by the pool, eat granola and fresh orange juice under an umbrella as the sun floods into the valley and generally enjoy this oasis among the redwoods. From San Francisco it’s a 90-minute drive – the easiest option since the train line closed down in the 1930s.
This beautiful river valley has always been a beloved Californian secret for family summer holidays but in recent years the secret has got out.