In the regions known as Russian River, dramatic vineyards give way to majestic redwood groves and spectacular coastal scenery. This enchanted getaway is about 70 miles north of San Francisco, so it’s a favorite weekend retreat for harried city dwellers. But the secret’s out, and Californians aren’t the only ones who flock to the resorts in the township of Guerneville.
What's in store? Hiking in the misty forests, horseback riding, canoeing, hot-air balloon rides, and wine tasting, for starters. Then there’s those romantic nights in front of a fire.
Fly into San Francisco International Airport, (about 70 miles to the south of Guerneville), Oakland (67 miles away), or Sacramento (120 miles but with fewer traffic hassles). Rent a car or take a shuttles, taxi, bus or limousine to your destination. Alternately, fly into the small Charles M. Schulz, Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, a 30 minute drive from Guerneville. Direct flights on Alaska Airlines connect with Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, and Portland. For bus services see websites of Airport Express, Mendocino Transit or Sonoma County Transit. If driving, avoid Friday and Sunday afternoon traffic whenever possible.
A car is the best — actually, it’s just about the only — way to get around the Russian River area. Guerneville itself is small enough to walk or bike around.
Media & Resources
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Russian River/ Guerneville listings pages.
Wine-country accommodations do not come any more relaxed or romantic than at Applewood Estate Inn (13555 Highway 116, Guerneville; 707-869-9093). Gay-friendly retreat, elegant indulgence with restaurant, pool, spa, solarium, and spectacular garden.
The Bergson (1010 Foothill Blvd, Calistoga; 707-942-5755), boutique hotel luxury, 21 rooms and suites with balconies, fireplaces, feather beds, patios/ garden courtyard, breakfast, Jacuzzi tubs, bath robes, WiFi and cable TV. Formerly Christopher's Inn.
If flush with cash, try the Boon Hotel+Spa (14711 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville; 707-869-2706) opened by two women and named for their dog in the renovated former Retreat Resort location.
Candlelight Inn (1045 Easum Dr, Napa; 800-624-0395) in 1929 postmaster's English Tudor-style house, romantic, soothing wine country environment. A talented team of veteran innkeepers take good care of you.
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant (7871 River Rd, Forestville; 800-464-6642), 25 luxurious rooms and suites on 6 acres, heated seasonal pool, concierge team, bell staff, and wine director, full farm-fresh breakfasts, Michelin-starred restaurant.
Fern Grove (16650 Highway 16, Guerneville; 888-243-2674), 20 craftsman-style cottages with spa tubs, fireplaces and skylights - some pet-friendly; seasonal saline pool, short drive from ocean beaches and vineyard tours.
Gay Gay Getaways/ Napa, Sonoma (1370 Trancas St #356, Napa), concierge and travel coordination for lodging and wine country activities - the best food, wine and accommodations in California's wine country; wine tastings, vineyard tours, vacation homes, hotels and event arrangements.
Highlands Resort (14000 Woodland Dr, Guerneville; 707-869-0333), peaceful gay and lesbian/ straight-friendly retreat on three wooded acres perched on a mountain; pool, clothing optional sunbathing, rooms, suites, and six cabins (several pet-friendly), breakfast, WiFi. Tent site camping at modest fees per person.
Luxe Calistoga (1139 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga; 707-942-9797), 5 guest rooms/suites, adult-only old-world luxury, modern amenities, gas fireplaces, brunch-style breakfast, WiFi, iPads and WiFi.
Two blocks off Main St, Downtown Guerneville, the R3 Hotel (16390 4th St; 707-869-8399), has 23 moderately-priced adult-only guest rooms, a large pool and deck, the Wednesday-Sunday Betty Spaghetti restaurant, and a 7-day piano bar with entertainment, karaoke, and a gay/mixed crowd all week.
Village Inn & Restaurant (20822 River Blvd, Monte Rio; 707 865-2304), river and mountain views, terrace, 11 guestrooms overlook the river or garden views, decks; Sonoma County local-sourced cuisine and wines restaurant and bar.
The Woods (16484 4th St; 877-887-9218), cottages, cabins and full-amenity suites at a quiet corner bend of Fifes Creek in downtown Guerneville, amidst the redwoods, with one of the largest pools around. Walking distance to shops, restaurants, dancing and live entertainment.
Bars & clubs
McT's Bull Pen (16246 First St, Guerneville), mixed bar, 24 beers on tap, cocktails and wine, live music, DJs, dancing, karaoke, pool table, big screen TV sports, etc.
Rainbow Cattle Company (16220 Main St, Guerneville), spunky, rustic "queer steer" bar, the Rainbow welcomes all from 6am "come hell or highwater!" Quart jars of Long Island Ice Tea, Rainbow Root Beer floats, and Mad Cow. Hump Nite potluck nights, pool table and outdoor patio.
R3 Bar & Betty Spaghetti (16390 4th St, Guerneville), nightly piano bar at the R3 Hotel, with entertainment and karaoke nights; daily pool bar BBQs, Wednesday-Sunday home-style restaurant.
Russian River Pub (11829 River Rd, Forestville), big screen TV sports pub/ restaurant; home-style breakfast, lunch and dinner, chicken wings, pub burgers, salads, sandwiches, daily specials, Saturday/ Sunday brunch.
Restaurants, cafes, markets
Big Bottom Market (16228 Main St, Guerneville), breakfast, lunch, bag lunches, mezze plates, house-made soups, fresh sandwiches, biscuit bar, salads; artisanal foods, home goods, cheeses, meats, hand-crafted brew, wines, plus candles, books, and chocolates.
Boon Eat+Drink (16248 Main St, Guerneville) modern California bistro; seasonal, local and usually organic food. Small plates of meat, cheese, panini, salads, with local wines and micro brews.
Coffee Bazaar (14045 Armstrong Woods, Guerneville), a refreshing alternative to the chains, with indoor and outdoor seating. A community-oriented hangout with coffee, sandwiches, wraps, and light fare.
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant (7871 River Rd, Forestville), Michelin-starred chef/ Gourmet Magazine and Zagat raves. Delicious, wholesome, intensely flavored dishes rely entirely on in-season locally-sourced food at its peak.
Flavors Unlimited (16450 Main St, Guerneville), coffee, tea, ice cream and frozen yogurt.
Food For Humans (16385 1st St, Guerneville), specialties grocery, organic, local, sustainable foods + body care.
Korbel Winery, Delicatessen & Market (13250 River Rd, Guerneville), wine, brandy, champagne, deli food, patio tables by redwood trees; soups, sandwiches, salads, meats, cheeses, gourmet delicacies.
Main Street Bistro (16280 Main St, Guerneville), gay-friendly piano bar/ cabaret & pizzeria restaurant, steaks, seafood, pasta, paninis, pizzas; acoustic music venue.
Oakville Grocery (7856 St. Helena Hwy, Oakville + 124 Matheson, Healdsburg), gourmet foods shop/ deli/ bakery/ charcuterie, made-to-order sandwiches, salads, meats, cheeses; breakfast burritos, muffins, scones and cinnamon buns.
River's End Restaurant & Inn (11048 Hwy One, Jenner), breathtaking views and romantic dining where the river meets the Sonoma coast. Eclectic menu for lunch and dinner, wine and cocktails.
Stumptown Brewery & Grill (15045 River Rd, Guerneville), resturant and micro-brewery bar, pils, ales, stouts on tap; starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and dogs, with veggie options.
Willow Wood Cafe & Market (9020 Graton Rd, Graton), breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch; books, unusual gifts, beer & wines, garden dining, steaks, meatloaf, carnitas plates, seafood; also veggie options.
Zazu (6770 McKinley, Sebastopol) roadhouse restaurant fine dining in midst of 150 local wineries. Italian-inpired playful American cuisine. Dinner and Sunday brunch.