A sign for Historic Duncans Mills on the side of an old, wooden building
Duncans Mills

3 Things to Do in Duncans Mills

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Tucked a few miles inland from the Sonoma coastline and perched beside the Russian River, the little village of Duncans Mills boasts Old West charm that makes it an ideal stop for those exploring the area.

It's a great place to get out of your car, stretch your legs, and explore, on your way to or from the Sonoma coast.

Here are three fun things to do when visiting this charming hamlet.

Listen to music at the Blue Heron Restaurant & Tavern

A sign for the Blue Heron restaurant on the blue building
Blue Heron Restaurant & Tavern

When you have beer, music, and burgers in the same place, you just know it's going to be good. Add to that the cozy rustic redwood dining room, some Sonoma County wine, and you have a must-experience stop on the way home from the coast.

Their full menu is served both in the tavern and dining room, where you can feast on fish & chips, burgers, or homemade fare such as chicken pot pie, while gazing out at the redwoods. In the summer months (around here, those are May through September) you can listen to music outside on the garden patio, and tap your toes while munching on barbecued oysters. The rest of the year, enjoy your beer or wine, while listening to local musicians playing inside.

Experience art at Christopher Queen Galleries

A woman with long white hair smiles in front of a yellow wall with paintings hanging on it
Christopher Queen Galleries

Although called an art gallery, Christopher Queen Galleries is more like a museum. Situated near the courtyard and fountain, this two-story art gallery features an extensive collection of early California paintings, dating from the 1860s to the 1940s, and includes works by famous artists who are represented in major museums. 

When you walk upstairs, you feel like you're walking through a gallery at a museum, looking at breathtaking scenes of old California. The downstairs gallery is a changing exhibit of contemporary art displayed salon style, adding to the charm of this beautifully displayed gallery.

Camp at Casini Ranch Family Campground

The campground as shown from above lets you see the river flowing around it
Casini Ranch Family Campground

As the Russian River meanders from the coastal redwoods to the ocean, the hillsides merge into wooded and grass covered slopes surrounded by trees. Just five miles from the ocean and near Duncans Mills, Casini Ranch Campground is nestled close to a mile's worth of the Russian River, where you can go boating swimming, or fishing. 

The campground is especially popular with families, who return here year after year for duck feeding at the on-site pond, Saturday evening hay rides, and outdoor movie nights. Casini also provides all the amenities: full hookups, showers, General Store, game room, WiFi, and secluded spots for tents. And if you have an unlucky day fishing for steelhead and salmon, there are some great restaurants close by to dine.

For more ideas about what to see and do, and where to stay, read Guide to the Russian River Resort Area and 10 Getaway Resorts and Lodges in the Russian River Area.