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Getaway Guide: Russian River
Travel

Getaway Guide: Russian River

Stay, play, and dine around the Russian River and you'll find yourself dancing to its tempo like you were destined to do it all along.

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5 min read

July 22, 2021

The Russian River sets the leisurely momentum of life in Wine Country. As it twists and turns its way through Northern California, the cascading waterway creates a special corridor of riverside greenery that perfectly complements the unique towns that line its banks. In this laid-back scenery, you’ll find eccentric cabins nestled among redwoods and fir-covered hills, charming downtown areas with plenty to taste and shop, and an abundance of opportunities to adventure both on water and land. Stay, play, and dine around the Russian River and you'll find yourself seamlessly dancing to its tempo like you were destined to stumble across it all along.

Day 1

For more than 130 years, travelers have come to the Russian River area in Sonoma County to swim, hike, or simply relax and enjoy.

Arriving 

While the Russian River is constantly flowing, don’t feel rushed (pun intended) to drive up north—take your time to make detours at a few notable hotspots along the way. Assuming you’ll be driving up the coast along San Francisco, you’ll come across Stinson Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Tomales Bay; all of which you should stop and admire. 

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Then, follow the Scenic Bohemian Highway that passes through towering redwoods and lush meadows. The small towns of Forestville and Guerneville will be on your way, but don’t rush to finish the itinerary before you even arrive—you’ll circle back to enjoy them throughout the weekend.

The Russian River is a lovely waterway with gorgeous riverside greenery, dotted with charming towns that await exploration.

Afternoon 

Enjoying all the Russian River activities right off the bat is very tempting, but first, drop off your stuff at your accommodation of choice. If you’re a fan of good old-fashioned camping, you’ve come to the right place. The campgrounds at the Russian River are among the best when it comes to both tent and RV camping near the banks. However, if sleeping bags and portable toilets are not your vibe, you’ll still be able to find top-notch accommodation nearby.

While the Russian River vacation rentals and Airbnbs are foolproof choices for overnight stays, a particularly fun option is AutoCamp Russian River. Providing a sense of seclusion while being a five-minute drive from Guerneville, the autocamp destination provides the best of both worlds. Settle in and head into downtown—you’ll be starving by this time anyway. 

Of the many charming restaurants and cafes in Guerneville, a few stand out as must-trys for first-time visitors. Boon Eat + Drink on Main Street is a modern California bistro with primarily organic ingredients and seasonal small dishes you’ll love. Another option is Betty Spaghetti on Fourth Street, a family-friendly Italian restaurant with a California flair. Don’t go back to the river so fast after lunch; make sure to get a quick (albeit no one does this quickly) look around at the Guerneville 5 and 10 store. Founded in 1949, this old-school shop has become a Russian River getaway tradition full of nostalgic candy and toys, collectibles, camp supplies, and novelty items—the perfect stop for souvenir shopping. 

Experience the adventure of the outdoors in the comfort of a luxury Airstream camper. Photo courtesy of AutoCamp Russian River.

Evening

Make your way back to the river while the sun is setting and squeeze in one last adventure before calling it a day. And don’t worry, you’ll be on Autcamp’s premises and a few steps away from your comfy bed—you’ll be able to snooze whenever you like. 

The AutoCamp Russian River clubhouse is an awesome spot for evening hangouts, complete with a bonfire and lounging chairs. Lounge around the clubhouse, listen to the sound of the nocturnal animals, and watch the twinkling stars in the sky.

You’ve booked one of the four available options at AutoCamo Russian River: airstreams, luxury tents, campers, or suites. Each of the options comes with comfortable beds and top-notch amenities. Depending on what choice you go with, you’ll have extra perks as well such as a fire grill or a patio. Make sure you get a good nights’ rest in your uber-cool accommodation because a new day of fun things to do at the Russian River awaits you tomorrow—and trust us, you’ll need all your energy to cross everything off your itinerary.

Day 2

With an annual average discharge of approximately 1,600,000 acre feet, the Russian River is the second largest river in the Bay Area.

Morning

As you wake to the sounds of the birds chirping, river rushing, and people mingling in the clubhouse, you’ll be reminded that you’re waking up in one of the most beautiful places in NorCal. Before heading out to enjoy the complimentary breakfast, consider taking part in the morning yoga session offered by AutoCamp. You’ll get into the right headspace to tackle all your Russian River activities and start off the day with a zen mindset.

After yoga and breakfast, it’s time to go exploring along the river and through the surrounding small towns thanks to AutoCamp Russian River’s complimentary bike rental service. If you’d rather explore the area on foot, you’ll be glad to know that there are many awesome, world-class hiking trails about five to ten minutes away from your accommodation.

Whitewater rafting can get pretty addicting—the wild rapids, the unexpected twists and turns, the screams of excitement. It’s so thrilling!

Afternoon

The best way to beat the summer heat in the afternoon is to partake in all the fun water-related activities available at this California river. If you’re a fan of river rafting, you’re in for a fun time—one of the best places in California for river rafting is none other than the Russian River. If you’re a pro, then you’ll already know what to do. But, if you’re just starting out, you have to take part in the river rafting excursions. 

Whitewater rafting in the Russian River is ideal for those who want to take their paddling skills up a notch. With Class II and III rapids making up the majority of this active river, the elevations and jumps will give paddlers just enough excitement without the danger. This gorgeous river also offers you a glimpse into California’s history, as it takes you through farmlands and historic towns. 

If whitewater rafting is too wild of an adventure but you still want to spend time in the water, don’t worry, there are plenty of other Russian River activities you’ll be able to enjoy. Besides swimming, fishing, and canoeing, tubing here is just as popular. The area between Steelhead Beach to Sunset Beach in Forestville is one of the best tubing routes, so lather your mineral-based sunscreen and get ready for a memorable Russian River float. The flow of the stream is much slower during the summer months, but you’ll still be able to make tubing a part of your Russian River getaway.

The Market is a mix of local and modern mouthwatering menus, where one sandwich isn't enough to keep you satisfied.

Evening

You’re welcome to make your own barbecue on the premises of AutoCamp Russian River, but if a good old-fashioned barbecue isn’t on your itinerary, we have great restaurant suggestions for a satisfying dinner. The nearby Big Bottom Market offers delicious options like salads and sandwiches, as well as biscuits, jams, honey, and canned items to pack for the road. If you crave a sweet treat after dinner, swing by the Guerneville Bank Club that sells unbelievably tasty homemade ice cream and equally delicious pies. Pair the lemon buttermilk pie with a side scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor and you’ll be thanking us later.

There are a lot more things to do in the Russian River that could squeeze into your weekend getaway itinerary. If we missed your favorites, we’d love to hear your suggestions!

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