A colorful mural on a wall in Forestville depicts the town and its buildings in Sonoma County

5 Fun Things To Do in Forestville

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Beautifully situated in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley amidst rolling hills, soaring redwood trees and lush vineyards, the tiny town of Forestville offers much to do.

It's a laid-back, slow-it-down, family oriented kind of place where coffee shops roast their own beans, dining options vary from down-home to gourmet, and people are friendly.

The town was established in the late 1860s, and although the spelling was later changed, it was originally named after saloon owner Andrew Jackson Forrester. Forestville was the home of the first powered sawmill in California, as well as a chair factory that, at the time, was the largest manufacturing plant in Sonoma County.

Here are five fun things to do during your Forestville visit:

Front Street is the main street through town lined with shops and American flags in Forestville, Sonoma County
Front Street

Browse "Downtown" Shops

The Russian River Valley's major road, Highway 116, becomes Front Street for three short blocks when it hits the 'downtown' area of Forestville. This is a great spot to park your car and stroll around. 

You'll feel as if you've stepped back into time at Ideal Hardware, with its ancient wooden floor, solicitous clerks, and shelves of things you've been seeking forever but couldn't find anywhere else.

All sorts of things on display in a shop in Sonoma County
Lucky Mojo Curio Co.

The Lucky Mojo Curio Co. is a magic store, stocked with items such as kits that help you cast magic spells, occult oils, spiritual soaps, amulets, and charms - and they'll help you find the right person to give you a psychic reading.

The studio/gallery space of Gerald Huth can be visited by appointment, and you can purchase excellent organic coffee at Sunshine Roasters Espresso Bar.

Visit the farmers market

The lively Forestville Certified Farmers Market is held from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday under the shady oaks in the downtown park from the beginning of June to the end of September.

Chard, zucchini, and green beans on display on a table at the farmers market
Forestville Certified Farmers Market

Here, local farmers offer up their finest seasonal produce, artisans vend imaginative crafts and gift items, and local food purveyors offer pizza, bread, cheese, wine, and more for your dining pleasure. Enjoy live music as you browse the market booths, or relax with a massage.

Paddle Down the River

Canoeing or kayaking down the Russian River from Burke's Canoe Trips, finishing up at the mouth of the Pacific Ocean, has been hugely popular with generations of summer visitors.

And why not? It's pure pleasure!

The river's flowing in the direction you're paddling, you'll stop once or twice on a river bank to picnic or relax in the sun, and you'll probably even jump into the water now and then to cool off.

At the end a shuttle brings you back to your car. Burke's also offers camping on the riverfront and in the redwoods (tents, trailers, and RVs accommodated).

Bike the West County Trail

The 5.57-mile West County Trail runs between Forestville and Sebastopol. Flat and paved, it proceeds through vineyards, orchards, and other farmlands to make for a beautiful, easy, and safe bicycle outing (you can also walk or skate).

A person rides a bike along a trail in Sonoma County
West County Regional Trail

Along the way you could go wine tasting, visit Hallberg Butterfly Gardens, hike a trail at Ragle Ranch Regional Park, or cruise down Sebastopol's Florence Avenue to delight in artist Patrick Amiot's big colorful sculptures made from recycled objects.

Enjoy a Russian River Beach

Forestville is home to three regional parks along the river: Steelhead Beach, Sunset Beach, and Mom's Beach (also known as Forestville River Access). They all offer beautiful river and forest views. All are great for birding, fishing, watching paddlers glide slowly by, enjoying a picnic and much more.

A woman relaxes with a child and a dog on a river beach with the kayak on the shore in Sonoma County
Sunset Beach River Park

There are no lifeguards, so life vests are advised if you enter the water. Steelhead Beach offers river access for small craft such as kayaks, canoes, and drift boat; it also has a few short hiking trails that create a nearly one-mile loop through a forest.

See Sonoma County's safety tips for water activities here.

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodgriguez.