Winding its way across the heart of Sonoma Wine Country, the Russian River offers a wide variety of outdoor opportunities. And whether you want to nibble on picnic fare, lie back in the sun, read a book in the shade, enjoy the scenery, or splash and paddle in the water, you're sure to enjoy the wide, sandy beach at Forestville River Access (10584 River Drive, Forestville, 707-433-1625).
Locals call this delightful spot Mom's Beach because it's such a wonderful place to take the kids. However, Mom's Beach is not just for those with children in tow — it's also fantastic for friends, couples, and singles.
All in all, Mom's Beach is a great a place for just about anyone to relax, enjoy the water, and catch some rays. Fishing in the area is excellent but challenging, and folks in canoes or kayaks are a common sight as they paddle their way down the river toward Guerneville.
Get there early to stake out a prime spot. Located at 10584 River Drive on the edge of Forestville (pop. 3,293), the park opens at 7 a.m. and closes a half hour before sunset. Admission and parking are free, but there are no lifeguards on duty; properly licensed dogs are allowed if they are on a leash no more than 6 feet long; and accessible pit restroom facilities are available from May to November. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on this beach.
From Highway 101 in Santa Rosa, take the River Road exit west about 10 miles. When you pass Burke's Canoe Trips and Campground (8600 River Road, Forestville, 707-887-1222) and Steelhead Beach Regional Park (9000 River Road, Forestville, 707-433-1625), you are close. Look to the right for the sign to River Drive. Park in the lot on the corner and walk about 100 yards to the start of a short trail to the beach.
And if you forgot to pack something, nearby Forestville can be a great place to pick up sunscreen, picnic supplies and everything from pizza or burgers to gourmet goodies.
For more info about the Russian River area, visit Redwoods & Rivers.