48 Hours in Guerneville, California

AutoCamp Russian River, Guerneville

Rustic and elegant, sophisticated and quirky — all that and more describes the laid-back town of Guerneville in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley. 

Since its founding in the 1850s, Guerneville has been a logging town, a 19th-century vacation hot spot, a popular resort and concert venue, and recently, an LGBTQ+-friendly destination with a burgeoning food and wine scene.

Discover this small, funky river town just over an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, and prepare to eat and drink well while you relax and have a good time.

Here’s a two-day itinerary for enjoying all that Guerneville has to offer.

Day One

Breakfast at Piknik Town Market

Bottles of wine in Big Bottom Market in Sonoma County
Piknik Town Market, Guerneville

Start your day in downtown Guerneville at Piknik Town Market, a local hangout where signature biscuits are the main attraction. Dense yet flaky, these biscuits made Oprah’s list of her favorite things. Try them with butter and jam, with mascarpone and honey, or with gravy. You also can’t go wrong with a ham and cheddar biscuit, the Sea Biscuit with salmon, and a delicious variety of breakfast sandwiches.

Stroll Downtown Guerneville

Stretch your legs by checking out the wonderful — and wonderfully eclectic — antique shops, art galleries, eateries, and more that line Guerneville’s retro Main Street. At the Guerneville 5 & 10, stock up on candy brands and toys from your childhood, along with collectibles, supplies, and novelty items.

Lunch and Champagne Tasting at Korbel Champagne Cellars

The exterior of Korbel Champagne Cellars is covered by ivy in Guerneville, Sonoma County
Korbel Champagne Cellars, Guerneville

Start a pleasant afternoon at Korbel Champagne Cellars on River Road. The Korbel Delicatessen & Market is one of the best-kept secrets along the Russian River. It offers gourmet sandwiches, handcrafted salads, and a large assortment of prepared dishes ready in the deli. Eat on the outdoor deck under majestic redwood trees. Then, step inside the ivy-covered tasting room to enjoy a complimentary tasting of Korbel’s finest. Korbel is the oldest continually operating champagne house in North America and there is fascinating history here to enjoy.

Read more about Wine Tasting in Guerneville and check our listings of Russian River Valley Wineries.

Beach Time on the River

Two people walk toward the Russian River at Johnson's Beach in Sonoma County
Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville

If you’d like to spend the afternoon relaxing on the Russian River, head to Johnson’s Beach, which for the past century has been a favorite summer spot for Sonoma County locals and visitors alike. It offers a spacious stretch of pebble beach surrounded by redwoods. There’s a roped-off area for kids to swim, deeper water for more adventurous swimmers, a snack bar, and beer or wine at the Boathouse. You can rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboat, or inner tube, as well as chairs, beach umbrellas, and other gear.

Dinner at boot eat + drink

Like many exceptional restaurants in Sonoma County, boon eat + drink features seasonal menus highlighting fresh, local ingredients. These are crafted by chef and owner Crista Luedtke, who owns the adjoining boon hotel + spa. The restaurant is sleek and urban-chic, with just 24 seats and a mural of dogs catching Frisbees, in honor of Boon, Luedtke’s late rescue pup.

Guerneville has been on the foodie radar for years, so you’ve got plenty of delicious dining options. Read Where to Eat: Guerneville Restaurants.

Drinks & Bar-Hopping

patrons at El Barrio in Guerneville in Sonoma County
El Barrio, Guerneville

Guerneville may be sleepy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great bars! El Barrio showcases sensational cocktails and artisanal, handcrafted spirits like mezcal, tequila, and bourbon. A short bar bites menu featuring regional Mexican cuisine, if munchies should strike.

Main Street Bistro presents live acoustic jazz, blues, folk, swing, or oldies almost every night and occasional open mic sessions. If you’re there on a weekend, enjoy their Cabaret Dinner Shows.

Other local options for a night out include the LGBTQ-friendly Rainbow Cattle Company, Mc T’s Bullpen Sports Bar, and Stumptown Brewery, which features a mix of house-brewed, small-batch beers, regional beers, and spirits.

Day Two

Rise and Shine at Coffee Bazaar

For a quick morning bite, start your day at the Coffee Bazaar, a quirky little joint connected to a bookstore in the heart of Guerneville. This place has been serving coffee, homemade baked goods, and breakfast sandwiches for more than 30 years.

Take a Hike at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

Hiking in Armstrong State Natural Reserve in Guerneville, Sonoma County
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Guerneville

Head north on Armstrong Woods Road until it ends in the quiet serenity and awesome beauty of Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. As you stroll under this forest’s magnificent, soaring canopy, be sure to stop, tip your head back, and look up, up, up at the coast redwood trees — the world’s tallest living things. The self-guided Armstrong Nature Trail offers interpretive displays to help you learn about redwoods, and the Discovery Trail offers an unusual feature you’ll want to try — a tree-hugging platform.

Pro Tip: For a completely different perspective on redwood trees, drive about 10 miles south to Sonoma Zipline Adventures in the town of Occidental. You can soar above the forest on a unique course that includes seven zip lines, two sky bridges, a magnificent spiral staircase, and a thrilling rappel to the forest floor.

Lunch at Timberline Restaurant

Discover “Rustic Cabin Cuisine” at Timberline Restaurant. This unique style of traditional comfort food with contemporary Sonoma County flair features locally sourced ingredients, all hand prepared, for lunch or dinner. Try to get a table in the second-floor dining room, which has panoramic windows overlooking downtown Guerneville.

Relax & Restore at a Guerneville Spa

Couple in hot tub at Boon Hotel and Spa in Guerneville, Sonoma County
boon hotel + spa, Guerneville

Take time to relax and recharge by booking a pampering massage or facial at boon hotel + spa. Be sure to take a soothing dip in the saline pool or hot tub after your treatment.

Another option, West Sonoma Inn & Spa, is located right around the corner and offers a choice assortment of treatments plus intriguing add-ons like sound energy-field healing.

Explore the Russian River

The scenic Russian River is still the defining feature of this town, and you can enjoy this beautiful waterway with the guidance of experienced local outfitters like SUP Odyssey. They provide standup paddleboard lessons, rentals, and self-guided 4.2-mile downriver trips (dogs welcome), along with shuttle rides back to your vehicle.

If you’re interested in river fishing, King’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street rents all the supplies and offers guided fishing trips.

Two people paddle board along the Russian River in Sonoma County
Russian River, Guerneville

Bike Around Guerneville (and Beyond)

Cycling is a great way to see Guerneville and its surrounding areas. Russian River Cycle Service offers bicycle rentals and posts tips about local cycling routes

In nearby Forestville, you can hop on the West County Regional Trail. This flat, paved, 5.57-mile walking/biking trail links Forestville and Sebastopol, connecting to the 8.47-mile Joe Rodota Trail and Santa Rosa.

Read more in our Guide to Cycling in Sonoma County.

More to Explore

Guerneville’s central location is a great jumping-off point for discovering Sonoma County. About eight miles west on Highway 116, tiny Duncans Mills offers Old West charm and a unique mix of antique and specialty shops, restaurants, and galleries. For details, read Three Things to Do in Duncans Mills.

A little farther west lies the Pacific Ocean and the spectacularly scenic Sonoma County coastline. For ideas about what to see and do, read Best Beaches on the Sonoma Coast and Discover Sonoma Coast State Park.

Where to Stay

guests outside of a tent at glamping spot at Boon hotel and spa in Sonoma County
boon hotel + spa, Guerneville

Guerneville is full of lodging options that match the quirky, laid-back, and LGBTQ+ friendly vibe of the town. Stay in one of 14 former miners’ cabins — remodeled with understated design and affordable luxury — at boon hotel + spa, which also offers a vintage “lovebug” camper and three glamping tents.

You’ll find more glamping in posh platform tents at AutoCamp Russian River. Or you can spend the night in one of the adorable little cottages tucked under redwood trees at Dawn Ranch.

For more area hotels, discover  10 Getaway Resorts and Lodges in the Russian River Area. Or check our listings of Guerneville Hotels & Lodging.

Discover more things to do in Guerneville.

Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Henley

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