In the regions known as Russian River, dramatic vineyards give way to majestic redwood groves and spectacular coastal scenery. This enchanted getaway is about 70 miles north of San Francisco, so it’s a favorite weekend retreat for harried city dwellers. But the secret’s out, and Californians aren’t the only ones who flock to the resorts in the township of Guerneville.
What's in store? Hiking in the misty forests, horseback riding, canoeing, hot-air balloon rides, and wine tasting, for starters. Then there’s those romantic nights in front of a fire.
Fly into San Francisco International Airport, (about 70 miles to the south of Guerneville), Oakland (67 miles away), or Sacramento (120 miles and with fewer traffic hassles). Rent a car or take a shuttles, taxi, bus or limousine to your destination. Alternately, fly into the small Charles M. Schulz, Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, a 30 minute drive from Guerneville. Direct flights on Alaska Airlines connect with Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, and Portland. For bus services see websites of Airport Express, Mendocino Transit or Sonoma County Transit. If driving, avoid Friday and Sunday afternoon traffic whenever possible.
A car is the best — actually, it’s just about the only — way to get around the Russian River area. Guerneville itself is small enough to walk or bike around.
Media & Information
Gay Sonoma and Guerneville-Online are local online guides for gay news, events, resources and listings in the North Bay area. KRCB is a local radio station (91FM and online stream) with LGBT community programming each Sunday at 8pm.
Wine-country accommodations do not come any more relaxed or romantic than those at Applewood Estate Inn (13555 Highway 116, Guerneville; 707-869-9093). This gay-friendly retreat is an elegant indulgence with a restaurant, pool, spa, solarium, and a spectacular garden.
If flush with cash, try the Boon Hotel+Spa (14711 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville; 707-869-2706) opened by two women and named for their dog in the renovated former Retreat Resort location.
Candlelight Inn (1045 Easum Dr, Napa; 800-624-0395) in 1929 postmaster's English Tudor-style house, romantic, soothing wine country environment. A talented team of veteran innkeepers take good care of you.
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant (7871 River Rd, Forestville; 800-464-6642), eighteen cottages, rooms and suites on 6 acres, heated pool, 6 concierges, full farm-fresh breakfasts.
Fern Grove (16650 Highway 16, Guerneville; 888-243-2674) has cottages with spa tubs, fireplaces and skylights, a heated pool, a short drive from ocean beaches and vineyard tours.
Gay Gay Napa Getaways/ Absolute Gay Travel (1370 Trancas St #356, Napa) offers the best in food, wine and accommodations in California's wine country. Wine tastings, vineyard tours, vacation homes and hotels and event arrangements are their forte.
Perched on a mountain, Highlands Resort (14000 Woodland Dr, Guerneville; 707-869-0333), retreat on three wooded acres, is a short walk from the action. Camping is permitted for a modest fee.
Two blocks off Main St, Downtown Guerneville, Russian River Resort (16390 4th St; 800-41-RESORT) has 24 deluxe guest rooms, large pool deck, and two bars (Promenade Pool Bar & BBQ and Piano Bar) with entertainment and gay crowd all week.
The Woods (16484 4th St; 877-887-9218) in downtown Guerneville, amidst the redwoods not far from the river; cottages, cabins and full-amenity suites, plus one of the largest pools around.
Bars & clubs
Rainbow Cattle Company (16220 Main St, Guerneville) spunky, rustic bar, rainbow welcomes to all, from 6am "come hell or highwater!" This legendary bar offers quart jars of Long Island Ice Tea, Rainbow Root Beer floats, and Mad Cow. A pool table and outdoor patio are among the other attractions at this "queer steer."
Bar at Russian River Resort (16390 4th St, Guerneville) has the River's favorite poolside bar. At night they have drag, and occasional comedy shows.
Boon Eat+Drink (16248 Main St, Guerneville) modern California bistro; seasonal, local and usually organic food. Small plates of meat, cheese, panini, salads, with local wines and micro brews.
Coffee Bazaar (14045 Armstrong Woods, Guerneville), a refreshing alternative to the chains, with indoor and outdoor seating. A community-oriented hangout with coffee, sandwiches, wraps, and light fare.
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant (7871 River Rd, Forestville) Gourmet Magazine and Zagat rave. Delicious, wholesome, intensely flavored dishes that rely entirely on in season food at its peak.
Flavors Unlimited (16450 Main St, Guerneville) has coffee, tea, ice cream and frozen yogurt.
River's End Restaurant (11048 Hwy One, Jenner) breathtaking views and romantic dining where the river meets the Sonoma coast. Eclectic menu for lunch and dinner.
Willow Wood Cafe & Market (9020 Graton Rd, Graton), breakfast, lunch, dinner, books, unusual gifts, beer & wines, garden dining.
Zazu (3535 Guerneville Rd, Santa Rosa) roadhouse restaurant in midst of 150 local wineries. Italian-inpired playful Americana cuisine. Dinner and weekend brunch.
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