Things to Do in Monte Rio
Perched on the banks of Sonoma County's Russian River, the hamlet of Monte Rio has been welcoming travelers since the 1870s.
Tucked away on the north end of the 10-mile Bohemian Highway, Monte Rio visitors are immediately greeted by a 1950s-style neon sign that marks this small town as a “vacation wonderland.” While visitors began flocking here by train in the 1870s, they started coming in droves in the mid-1900s when the era’s Big Bands played in the town’s outdoor pavilion.
Today, Monte Rio is still one of Sonoma County’s most popular towns for its acclaimed wineries, outdoor adventures, family-friendly beaches, and more.
Here are five of the many fun things to do during your stay in Monte Rio:
1. Bike the Region's Back Roads
Cycling offers one of the most eco-friendly ways to enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding Monte Rio. You might leave Highway 116 just south of town on Cazadero Highway, which runs through woods alongside Austin Creek (experienced cyclists can opt to continue all the way to Cazadero and beyond). You could also ride along the Bohemian Highway to Occidental, stopping at Sonoma Canopy Tours to zipline through redwood trees. Or head west on Highway 116, following the Russian River until it meets the Pacific Ocean at Jenner, and then go tidepooling at Goat Rock Beach.
Don't have bikes with you? Russian River Cycle Service in nearby Forestville will deliver hybrid or road bikes to Monte Rio for a small fee. Each bike comes with a helmet, pump, basket, and enough locks to secure the group; at the end of your ride you just lock the bikes and you're on your way. Find more options for bike rentals and tours.
2. Relax on a Beautiful Beach
Situated on a large bend of the Russian River at the Monte Rio Bridge, Monte Rio Community Beach offers calm waters, a long and lovely beach on both sides of the river, picnic area, volleyball and horseshoe pits, and a feel-good atmosphere. This family- and dog-friendly inlet is ADA accessible and backdropped by soaring redwood-covered hills. During the summer, boat and canoe rentals are available as well as food and drink concessions.
3. Hit the Links at Northwood Golf Club
Ranked by Golf World Magazine as one of the top courses in the nation, Northwood Golf Club is an enticing par-36, nine-hole course on the outskirts of Monte Rio. The course was designed in the 1920s by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, noted for his work at Augusta National and Cypress Point. Nestled alongside the famed Russian River and backdropped by redwood giants, these greens offer prime golfing views as well as pristine landscaping. The course also features a pro shop that carries brand-name apparel and equipment as well as on-site dining at the Northwood Restaurant and Bar.
4. Go Skateboarding at Russian River Skate Park
Located inside Creekside Park, this state-of-the-art skateboarding facility offers ramps, ledges, stairs, half-pipes, a snake run, and more, allowing skaters to practice their sport under fun and safe conditions. Scooters are also allowed here, and the free park is open year-round.
While there, be sure to make time to explore the rest of Creekside Park, which features a community-run farm and garden encircled by a paved 1/3-mile trail, before grabbing a pick-me-up at the adjacent Lightwave Coffee and Kitchen.
5. Savor New Flavors at Monte RioRestaurants
Speaking of pick-me-ups, Monte Rio offers several can't-miss eateries. The Boho Club at the Gatsby-themed Boho Manor serves up an array of hearty dishes, like rosemary lamb shanks and savory ribeyes topped with green peppercorn sauce and crispy leeks. The speakeasy-style restaurant also features a dog-friendly menu and live jazz every Saturday. A local favorite, the Rio Café & Grill is a haven for comfort food and drink. Their menu items are crafted with local produce, and their ambiance reinforces Sonoma County's value of community built around connection.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.