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Get Here: Access the Russian River area by flying into Santa Rosa's Charles M. Schultz airport, or drive up Highway 1 from San Francisco. If you're driving, make a few stops along the coast — Stinson Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay. Do some Birds' watching in Bodega, then ride up the scenic Bohemian Highway.
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Saint Teresa de Avila Church in Bodega, a famous location from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Settle In: Make Guerneville the jumping off point for your Russian River expedition - the longtime bohemian refuge of Forestville is just a stone’s throw away and the “vacation wonderland” of Monte Rio also within close proximity. Guerneville's comforting early morning fog, the rolling river and its proximity to the Sonoma coast make the place a dream destination for those wanting to kick back and get pleasantly lost. (Photo by Kent Porter)
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Guerneville's colorful collection of residents, its eclectic variation of visitors and varied array of storefronts reflect the archaeology of the town's recent history: timber town, then hippie haven, then gay retreat and hip getaway. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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Check In: Select from a variety of accommodations that include hotels, a tent on the riverbank or glamping in a boutique Airstream trailer, and you are set to explore the redwoods, the river and beyond. (Photo courtesy of AutoCamp, Guerneville)
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Camp in style at AutoCamp, Guerneville: Promising “no-fuss” hospitality, AutoCamp's mid-century modern glamping site in Guerneville features 24 custom Airstream trailers, ten fully equipped luxury tents and a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired pavilion. Guests can enjoy art installations, bocce courts and other outdoor games, along with speciality bikes, canoes and tennis. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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The bedroom compartment in a custom-made Airstream trailer at AutoCamp, in Guerneville. (Photo by Christopher Chung)
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Stay in an eco-friendly oasis at Boon Hotel + Spa, Guerneville: Named after owner Crista Luedtke’s canine companion, Boon offers quintessential Guerneville lodgings — a tasteful blend of old and new. The hotel grounds once housed the local mercury miner community; the hotel has gone through a series of transformations since the 1970s. In 2008, Luedtke created an eco-friendly oasis of minimalist modern cottages that promises to “unclutter your mind and allow your body to rest.” (Photo by Chris Hardy)
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The pool at Boon Hotel + Spa in Guerneville. (Photo by Chris Hardy)
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Bicycles for guest use at Boon Hotel + Spa in Guerneville. (Photo by Chris Hardy)
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Get five star treatment with a family feel at Farmhouse Inn, Forestville: Run by brother-and-sister team Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, the Farmhouse Inn offers all the warmth and hospitality of a family-owned B&B while providing the high end services and amenities of a five star luxury hotel. Located just 8 miles east of Guerneville, the inn houses a Michelin-starred restaurant and offers a variety of accommodations, from high-ceiling barn rooms to bungalow-style heritage rooms. (Photo by Charlie Gesell)
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King deluxe room at Farmhouse Inn in Forestville. (Photo by Charlie Gesell)
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Camp riverside at Johnson's Beach, Guerneville: Johnson’s Beach, a Sonoma County summer destination for nearly 100 years, offers a variety of rental accommodations: a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom main lodge overlooking the river, or rustic cabins dating to the 1920s. “Urban camping” at the beach is another popular option. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Johnson's beach in Guerneville is a family-friendly destination. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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Start your day in a literary way at Coffee Bazaar, Guerneville: This quality coffeeshop shares space with Twice Told Books. The establishment has its own Roast Master, Chris Goodman, and also serves up breakfasts and displays locally sourced art. Around for over 30 years, in different shapes and forms (hence the reference to a bazaar), the building previously served as hardware store, beer hall and dancehall. At the rear of the Bazaar's parking lot is a former Victorian carriage house, now home to art gallery Studio Blomster.
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Enjoy homemade pastries on the patio at Gold Coast Coffee, Duncans Mills: This cozy coffee shop is located in historic hamlet Duncans Mills (once a stop on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad to Sausalito). Stop in for a cup of their finest house roasted coffee and pair it with a homemade pastry baked in the cafe's wood fired oven (which also bakes great tasting pizza!) and then enjoy breakfast on the deck. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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Lunch at Backyard, Forestville: The chefs at this popular Forestville restaurant source the menu from their own backyard: meats from local ranchers, fish from local fishermen, fruit from local orchards, vegetables from local farms, wine and beer from local producers. Lunch menu favorites include the Backyard Reuben; Egg White Frittata; Pork Belly, Tomato & Duck Egg Hash; and The Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. (Photo courtesy of jsfashionista.com)
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Be sure to try Backyard's Buttermilk Onion Rings with their signature hot sauce. You won’t regret it.
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Have pies, ice cream and wine at Guerneville Bank Club: The newly restored Guerneville Bank Club (circa 1921) offers an interesting mix of art shows, handcrafted pies, homemade ice cream, clothing and home accessories. The pies are baked at Chile Pies Baking Co. in a variety of flavors: strawberry rhubarb, apricot cherry, or the signature chile apple pie. The ice cream is the work of Nimble & Finn’s: flavors include lavender honeycomb and Meyer lemon olive oil with chocolate chunks. The Bank Club Wine Collective tasting room features Inizi Wines & Baldassari Family Wines.
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Pick up picnic provisions at Big Bottom Market, Guerneville: An institution on Guerneville's Main Street, this market offers a mix of vintage and modern sensibilities. Think gourmet deli, meets farmer’s market, meets modern day general store — add in owner Crista Luedtke’s “lumberjack chic” signature style and you get the picture. This is your one-stop-shop for picnic provisions: from the vintage basket to locally sourced cheeses, breads, meats, wines and brews. (Photo by Chris Hardy)
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Lifestyle guru Oprah Winfrey selected Guerneville’s Big Bottom Market biscuits for her annual holiday shopping guide “Favorite Things" in 2016.
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Enjoy bistro fare, California style, at Boon Eat + Drink, Guerneville: A year after opening Boon Hotel + Spa, Crista Luedtke launched this Guerneville bistro which pairs modern California cuisine with Boon’s pared-down decor and minimalist philosophy. The proof of her success can be seen in the lines that form on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. (Photo by Chris Hardy)
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Order cannolis at Canneti Roadhouse Italiana, Forestville: Canneti chef Francesco Torre grew up sampling his grandma Fina’s cooking in the Tuscan coastal town of Massa. Like Grandma Fina, Torres puts a lot of love into every plate he prepares; the locally sourced menu showcases food akin to the rustic variety that he enjoyed in his childhood.
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Named after Via de Canetti, a winding rural road in Torres’ childhood Tuscany, Canneti's decor is roadhouse simple, almost industrial: rough brick walls, farmhouse wood tables and chairs. The ambiance is warm and welcoming, and there's patio in the back for a relaxed meal beneath the trees.
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Relax on the Russian River: If your idea of river experience is strenuous rafting, you’ve come to the wrong place. The Russian River is best enjoyed by lying lazily back in a canoe or a kayak; witnessing the panorama of wildlife unfolding before you along the river. Bring a beach blanket and stop to savor the sun at one of the many hidden beaches along the river. For rental river requirements and recommendations, visit Burke’s Canoe Trips in Forestville or King’s Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Stroll in Armstrong Woods: Avoid Muir Woods' instagramming tourists by experiencing the majesty of the redwoods in Armstrong Woods’ relatively remote location near Guerneville. The serene beauty of these natural wonders offer solace from the hustle and bustle of daily life and provide a place for quiet reflection as the gentle giants whisper tales of time gone by. (Photo by Kent Porter)
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Browse Guerneville Main Street Stores (and side streets): Rustic, renovated and retro storefronts line Guerneville’s Main Street and make it an eclectic shopper’s paradise. Start with a visit to Sonoma Nesting Company to pick up some local treasures for your home, then head on to dime store institution 5 & 10 for cheaper “collectibles” before stopping by Commerce Fine Goods for a carefully curated selection of local lifestyle creations. Continue to Second’s First for some vintage clothing and then Twice Told Books to add a literary twist to your Russian River retreat. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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Go foraging through the Forestville Farmers Market: Every Tuesday, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., the Forestville Farmer’s Market livens up the sleepy downtown with local produce, artisanal products, baked goods, arts, crafts, drinks, live music and dancing. A nice place to relax and recharge after a day on the river, sipping on a local brew under the oak trees.
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Enjoy Java and a Hut at the Rio Theater & Cafe: Alongside the no-nonsense bridge at Monte Rio, sits a most unusual movie house. The films screened in this historic Quonset hut, fronted by marquee, are just one feature of the Rio Theater. The breakfast-and-lunch cafe and coffeehouse on the elevated deck in the back is a second reason to go. The third reason is the weekend outdoor market. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Watch a Civil War redux at Duncan Mills: Each year in July, hundreds of people gather in the Sonoma summer sun to march in itchy wool uniforms. Touted as the largest event of its kind in Northern California, this Duncan Mills extravaganza allows you to combine your chance to watch an authentic Civil War battle reenactment (on a carefully mown battlefield) with the other great vacation attractions available in the Russian River area - and you’re welcome to put down your musket at any time to pick up some provisions at the onsite hot-dog shack. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Don your Stetson at the River Rodeo: If you’d prefer watching cowboys wrestling calfs and riding bulls than soldiers marching in the mud, check out the top notch professional Russian River Rodeo held in Duncan Mills the third weekend in June. (Photo by John Burgess)
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See natural pieces of art at Goat Rock State Beach: Just south of the point where the Russian River meets the Pacific, this Sonoma Coast gem offers the kind of scenic beauty that only the powerful forces of nature can create: white capped wild sea-waves crashing against promontories have carved the rocky coastal landscape into abstract shapes and forms. Among these rugged structures are natural arches formed by the force of water eroding weaker strata of the rock formations. Perched on top of the central terrace rests a large rock, floating like a ship on the level surface - perhaps this is the namesake of the beach, the origins of its name are still disputed. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Watch the sunset at River's End, Jenner: Finally, as a romantic finale to your Russian River retreat, dine in style where the river meets the sea and watch the sun set on the Western horizon. The website URL for River’s End restaurant and inn is, very suitably, ilovesunsets.com. (Photo by Crista Jeremiason)