Watch our Video Tour of Guerneville and Monte Rio.
Guerneville, with about 3500 residents, is the largest of the lower Russian River towns, located mid-way between Santa Rosa/Hwy 101 and the coast/Hwy 1. With a three block square downtown, the majority of the area restaurants, shops, and taverns are located here. Quaint and eclectic, exuding charm, Guerneville is populated by strongly individualistic folk. Although there is a Safeway, you won't find fast food chain restaurants. At the main intersection in town, Main Street and Armstrong Woods Road, there is a town plaza, with permanent chess tables, at the foot of the historic pin truss Guerneville Bridge which is now a pedestrian way. Located off the plaza is the Visitor's Center, a must stop for anyone new to the area.
Like much of the river area, Guerneville has a largely rugged terrain. Although the downtown area, Armstrong Valley north of downtown, and some riverside neighborhoods are fairly flat, most of the area is defined by steep and heavily forested hills/small mountains. There are numerous narrow, twisting roads up into the hills and even many of the relatively level roads are winding and narrow. Seasonal creeks run into the river in a number of locations; most are dry from mid-July to mid-October.
Although Guerneville has a substantial family orientation as a travel destination, it is also a destination for gay travelers. There are a few gay resorts and bars. There are also two larger resorts and a number of smaller resorts that cater primarily to a straight clientele. Gay and straight couples vacation here, often in mixed groups themselves, and gays with families find this a great destination. The beauty of Guerneville is that gay and straight are not distinctions that matter much to anyone here. What does matter is that loud, raucous, partying groups of any kind are much disliked and the natives are quick to call the sheriff if their tranquility is disturbed. Quiet guests who are looking for a peaceful, beautiful destination in tune with nature are welcome.
River Info | Top
The Russian River is clean and safe for swimming. The water is tested frequently to ensure its integrity. Beaches tend to be gravel, with some sandy areas. We recommend that you wear water shoes, which can be purchased inexpensively at several stores on Main Street in Guerneville.
River in Summer/Dry Season: In summer, spring and fall, the Russian River is breathtakingly beautiful. During this time, the River is gentle, with a moderate flow and no white water. Dams in the river are generally installed the middle of June, after the salmon have gone upriver to spawn, to keep the water level in Guerneville consistently high enough for swimming and boating. In the spring and early summer before the dams go in, the river level can be very low, rendering docks above the dams unusable. Therefore docks in Guerneville are not installed until after the dams are in and this varies from year to year. The dams are generally removed the end of September or beginning of October.
Whether or not the docks are in, there are areas where boating is always possible, even if the river is at its lowest. In the summer, the water is warm and the swimming season often runs from May into October. Although the river is never dry, it might be low enough that boats may need to be floated over shallow water areas during this period.
One of the dams provides a summer bridge between River Road and Neeley Road in the Vacation Beach area, a shortcut for people staying on the south side of the river heading into town or toward the coast. On the south side, look for a road called Beach. On the north side, the summer bridge is not marked; look for it a mile or so west of downtown.
Fishing is another important river activity. Spring brings
the shad and catfish. During the summer months, large mouth,
small mouth, and striped bass, along with blue gills, are
caught here. For info about guided fishing trips and equipment
rental, visit King's
Sport & Tackle.
River in Winter/Rainy Season: During the winter rainy
season, which generally extends from the middle of December
through March, the River is very swift, cold, deep, muddy,
and unsafe for swimming and boating. The Chinook head up river
in the fall, followed by the Steelhead Trout. While Chinook
must be released immediately if caught accidentally, Steelhead
fishing is an exciting winter sport here. As long as the river
is low enough for standing in waders, the river will be dotted
with the hopeful. One of the most popular areas is just east
of the Guerneville Bridge. Pick up a free fishing map at King's
Sport & Tackle in downtown Guerneville.
Daytime Activities | Top
Beach: This blast from the past offers food, drink
and beer, as well as inner tube, kayak, canoe, paddleboat,
and beach umbrella rentals, all at great prices. There's a
roped-off, shallow lagoon for the little ones, and deeper
water for swimming and boating, plus a boat launch. With real
bathrooms and changing rooms, this is a great place for family
and friends to while away those vacation hours. Beach open
daily Memorial Day into October (while the dams are in) 10am-6pm,
except during the Blues and Jazz Festival weekends. No dogs.
Free parking. Swim Lessons June-August. Check out this great
review of Johnson's Beach.
Kayak and Canoes/Sport and Tackle: Kayak rentals and
river trips. Camping gear, sporting goods, salt and freshwater
tackle. Beach gear, inflatable boats, novelties and toys.
Resort and Swimwear. 16258 Main Street T: 707-869-2156
Cemetary: A fascinating pioneer cemetery can be found on the Morningside Hill above downtown Guerneville. Take Woodland right off Armstrong Woods and wind up to Sunset. Turn left and park. Spend an hour or more wandering this beautiful resting place, both for its historic interest and for the interesting contemporary grave sites.
Hiking in Armstrong Woods State Reserve and Austin Creek State Recreation Area: Not to be missed, this is where an ancient stand of redwood trees survives to awe the fortunate visitor. There is a level trail of less than two miles which allows the visitor to get a good sense of the mystic magic of the redwood forest. Combined with the Austin Creek recreation area there are over 6800 acres with many hiking trails, some quite strenuous. Unfortunately dogs are not permitted on the trails, but they are permitted on leash on the road through the park.
Horseback Riding with Armstrong Woods
Trail Rides & Pack Station: Horseback adventures
through the giant redwoods and coastal mountain wilderness
of Armstrong Redwoods and Austin Creek State Parks. T: 707-887-2939
Rentals through Bike Partners: They will deliver your
bike rental to your home or into town. They offer an assortment
of bikes, Singles and Tandems. You can also rent a child carrier
attachment for the bike. The bikes are fold away bikes. Which
means you can fold them and put them in the trunk of your
car and drive to whichever location you would like to ride.
$40 for a 24 hour rental. Plus a $5 delivery charge, for delivery
to Guerneville. Call for inquiry: 1.855.483.3732 (toll free)
Champagne Cellars: Established in 1882, Korbel Champagne
Cellars has been a part of America's greatest celebrations
for more than 120 years. It has been the exclusive champagne
of the past five presidential inaugurations, and was the champagne
of choice for the Camelot years of the Kennedy administration.
Located a few miles east of downtown Guerneville, on River
Road, Korbel offers an extended tour of the famous Cellars
to learn how champagne is made, ending with complimentary
tasting. The Korbel Wine Shop and Tasting room features Korbel
champagnes, wines and brandies. The gift shop presents treasures
of wine country, including unique glassware, pottery, cookbooks
and wine accessories. Tour the Korbel Rose Garden Tour and
lunch at the Korbel Delicatessen. For area information, check
out the Russian River Visitor's Center on site.
707-869-5919 / 17121 Hwy 116, Guerneville
Health and Fitness center. Basic equipment and a complete
set of free weights. Pet Friendly!
Pee Wee Golf: The first of many sculptural pee wee
golf courses created by the Koplin family, Pee Wee Golf of
Guerneville opened in 1948. Newly remodeled and looking sharp,
kids as young as three can make a hole-in-one. Teenagers often
hang out here in the evenings. Two 18 hole courses, video
arcade, pool tables and refreshments. Open 11 to 11 summer
until Labor Day weekend, and weekends in spring and in September.
Usually closed October 1 until Easter, but it doesn't hurt
to call. Also will host private parties. Look for the purple
dinosaur on Drake Road, just off Hwy 116, Guerneville. T:
Henry M. Pacheco Memorial Playground: Tennis & basketball courts, baby swings, small play structure, 1 picnic table, wood chips. No restroom. No dogs.
Old Caz Rd. just off Hwy 116, west of downtown Guerneville
Public Playground/Drake Road, Guerneville: New play structures on sand, swings, basketball courts. Port-o-let and water fountain. Next to tennis courts. Drake Road just off Highway 116 south of Guerneville Bridge, across from Pee Wee Golf.
Public Playground/Orchard & Summer Crossing, Guerneville
Small, newish play structure with rings, basketball court, picnic tables, BBQ, water fountain. No restroom; no dogs.
Public Tennis Court/Old Cazedero Road, Guerneville: Just off Hwy 116, about a half-mile west from downtown. Around the corner from the River Grill.
Public Library, Guerneville: With free Internet access, on Armstrong
Woods Road, across from the fire station.
Local Radio: 97.7
FM/The River plays classic rock. 95.1
FM/The Bridge is a non-commercial community radio station
which provides a bridge between the Guerneville Community
Church and the Russian River Communities.
Shopping | Top
Shops and Services: Guerneville has a nice assortment
of fun shops: antiques, gifts, clothing, pet supplies, an
old-fashioned five and dime, sport and tackle shop, video
rentals, florist, pharmacy, general mercantile, book store,
bath shop (with wellness spa services), jewelers, several
nurseries, and a wonderful stone sculptor gallery which also
sells stone carving supplies. There are a couple of body workers
and beauty salons, as well as an old-fashioned barber. See
the shopping section on the Visitor's Center website for specifics:
Coffee, Dining & Nightlife | Top
Bazaar at Cinnabar, on Armstrong Woods just north
of Main Street, is an Internet café with outdoor seating (with
misters on hot days). They offer a full array of coffee and
teas, as well as pastries and light meals.
Starbucks: in Safeway at Main and Mill. There has
been much controversy in town about Safeway's decision to
add the Starbucks when Guerneville has two good locally owned
coffee shops already.
Restaurants: Guerneville has an array of eating establishments, including fabulous Mexican and Thai food, great hamburgers, top-notch pizza, and some excellent dinner houses. See our Restaurant Guide.
There is no such thing as a "gay" restaurant in Guerneville. Even the Triple
R restaurant, located in a gay resort, is frequented by a
mixed clientele and locals of any persuasion count this restaurant
as a favorite. In terms of gay/straight relations, Guerneville
is close to paradise---no ghettos, no off-limits places, just
a mellow scene where all are welcome.
Groceries & Banks | Top
24-hour Safeway Bakery, pharmacy, deli, fresh fish, florist, liquor, produce. Corner of Main and Mill Streets.
for Humans: Small health food store with produce,
bulk food, supplements, and organic groceries. Next to Safeway
on First Street.
Convenience Stores: Between Church and Mill on Main Street and in the gas stations on the corner of Main and Mill.
Wells Fargo ATM located inside Safeway. Bank of America ATM in
the old bank building at Main and Mill.
America Bank located in downtown Guerneville. 16265
Main St., (707) 869-0665.
Events | Top
Blues and Jazz Festivals: Both are two day events taking
place on Johnson's Beach in downtown Guerneville. The Blues
Festival is generally held the third weekend in June, while
the Jazz on the River Festival is always the weekend after
Labor day. Check out the Russian River Festivals website for
Stumptown Daze Parade and Rodeo: This 30-year-old tradition of rodeos, food, and parade is enthusiastically endorsed by the California Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association. Breakfast begins at 7am. The parade starts down Main Street at 11am. The rodeo begins at 2pm. Yearly, first week-end in June. The parade is in downtown Guerneville; the rodeo is held in Duncans Mills. T: 707-869-1959 or 877-644-9001
Russian River Fall Fling Harvest Faire: Family-oriented celebration featuring such goodies as a scarecrow decorating contest, hay rides, hay maze, Halloween carnival, pie bake off, and more. Usually mid-October. T: 1-877-644-9001
Winter Festival with Parade of Lights: Open house of downtown merchants with refreshments, tree lighting, carolers, and a visit from Santa. Parade of Lights is simply spectacular! Downtown Guerneville every December. T: 1-877-644-9001
Weekend: Sometimes in May, sometimes in June, sometimes
another one in late September.
Saturday Night Bingo with the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: Generally the second Saturday of each month, at the Odd Fellows Hall on First Street. Be in line by 6 as the hall fills up early. Bingo starts at 7. This is not your grandma's bingo, although many of the local grandmas attend, and here you will see how truly diverse this little community is. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence create a very fun event, with a special table for seniors, all the while spreading their message of tolerance and raising money for local charities. Wild and wacky, with lots of prizes in addition to the cash winnings.
Lazy Bear Week: Begins the Wednesday before August 1 through Sunday. A gay male event centered in the downtown Guerneville gay resorts.