Sonoma County is a scenic and relaxing retreat located just a short 30 miles from San Francisco—an area where the sprawling hills of wine country pair beautifully with Pacific Coast views and woodland forests filled with those famed CA redwoods. An idyllic Cali region where lovers of vino bask in the wonderful wineries; foodies delight in delectable dining opportunities; outdoor enthusiasts find adventure among the trees and along the coastline, and vacationers looking for relaxation can find their zen in a number of spas and wellness retreats amid a stunning natural backdrop.
However, there is a somewhat secret idyll at the heart of lovely Wine Country; a place where visitors can get the very best of Sonoma County in a quiet corner of paradise known as the Russian River Valley. Located along the Russian River that meanders its way through wine country, the Russian River Valley may not be as well known as Sonoma County proper though it has been a sought-after retreat for over a century for those in the know—travelers looking for a tranquil retreat amid the eclectic and welcoming towns along the river that offer a plethora of opportunities for both recreation and relaxation. Below are some of the best things to see and do on a visit to the scenic towns both big and small that make up the Russian River Valley.
Luxe Lodgings In The Russian River Valley
The Russian River Valley is a great place to explore—whether it’s on a town hopping, multi-day adventure, or a short weekend away from San Francisco, there are plenty of lovely accommodations along the way that make it easy to spend some time in this beautiful area.
- A sophisticated yet rustic retreat just outside of Guerneville, Mine + Farm is a bed and breakfast located in a century-old farmhouse nestled among a verdant natural landscape. A rural retreat with modern charm, this beautiful spot is also conveniently located next to a winery for easy vino access. 12850 River Rd, Guerneville
- A scenic spot situated where the Pacific Ocean meets the Russian River, River’s End Restaurant & Inn is the perfect vacay combo of stunning views, fun nearby activities, and delicious onsite dining—not to mention its cozy cottages and guest rooms, too. 11048 CA-1 Jenner
- Upscale accommodations, Michelin-starred dining, and uber-luxe vibes can be found at the elegantly chic Farmhouse Inn. Revel in the relaxing setting in this truly epic escape that’s welcoming and quaint with a touch of Sonoma County glamour—don’t forget to check out the onsite spa, too! 7871 River Rd, Forestville
Get Busy Russian River Valley Style
From outdoor adventure to quirky attractions, vineyard visits to epic dining opportunities, there’s plenty to keep travelers busy while exploring the scenic towns set along the winding Russian River.
Dig That Natural Beauty
Vacationers will love the diverse landscape of the Russian River Valley that has it all: forests, beaches, and riverside attractions can all be found in this eclectic region.
- Get the best of the river with a visit to Forestville faves Steelhead Beach Regional Park and Sunset Beach River Park—both great spots to pack a picnic and enjoy a number of recreational activities
- Bask in the ancient beauty of CA’s redwoods with a visit to the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Guerneville—a great place to take a hike
- Just minutes away from downtown Windsor lies the scenic Riverfront Regional Park; stretching for about a mile along the Russian River, it’s a great spot to fish, kayak, and scope some stellar views
- Get coastal in the seaside village of Jenner and head to Goat Rock State Beach, the perfect place to max and relax. And don’t forget to watch for migrating whales, too!
Soak Up The Small Town Charm
Sometimes the best way to really experience an area is by walking along its main street; checking out its shops and restaurants, and simply soaking up its welcoming vibes—and the quaint towns in the Russian River Valley make it easy with their eclectic offerings and abundance of Sonoma County charm.
- Cool small town vibes abound in Cloverdale, whose downtown area consists of a cobblestoned town plaza and main street lined with cool spots. Be sure to check out the Fritz Underground Winery, Pick’s Drive-In, and the Cloverdale Arts Alliance
- The scenic town of Healdsburg combines the best of small-town charm—just check out the town plaza packed with eclectic offerings like The Hand Fan Museum, the collection of shops like Leaven, and restaurants like Valette
- Pedestrian-friendly downtown Windsor is an idyllic place to take a stroll. Be sure to stop in for a sip at the Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards or the Russian River Brewery, paddleboard on the Russian River from scenic Riverfront Park, or bowl a frame at Windsor Bowling Center
Get Your Spa On
The Russian River Valley may be known for its recreation, but there’s also no shortage of relaxing vibes here that can be found at any one of these zen-like retreats.
- The only place in North America to offer a cedar-enzyme bath, the Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary is the pinnacle of RR relaxation. 209 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone
- Relaxing mineral hot springs, a spring-fed swimming pool, a dry sauna, and soaking tubs under the stars are just some of the luxe offerings found at the *clothing-optional* Orr Hot Springs Resort. 13201 Orr Springs Rd, Ukiah
- The luxe onsite spa at boon hotel + spa is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this fab woodland retreat that just so happens to be on its own little corner of CA paradise. 14711 Armstrong Woods Road Guerneville
California’s Russian River Valley is a Sonoma County gem filled with scenic natural beauty and charming small towns that boast a number of eclectic offerings—from quaint downtown areas lined with shops and restaurants; to riverside recreation and wine tastings galore, this scenic spot is the perfect rural retreat in the heart of CA’s stunning wine country.
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About The Author
Lisa Wright (177 Articles Published)
Lisa fell in love with travel from the first minute she ever stepped foot on a plane (though it took awhile!) Ever since, she has had a passion for learning, exploring, and discovering new places, and loves the opportunity to write about so many amazing spots all over the world. Though she doesn’t have any recent stamps on her passport, she hopes to be able to get back on a plane sometime (very) soon. In lieu of international travel, Lisa enjoys finding little adventures everyday in her own backyard that often involve the outdoors; and one of her favorite places to go is the Catskills and upstate New York. She also enjoys photography and nature is one of her favorite subjects (especially trees!) Lisa has been lucky enough to visit Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden and hopes that there is much more travel in her future–until then, she is happy to act as a guide to travelers everywhere who love to learn about the world as much as she does.