Just a couple hours from San Francisco, you get a down home, old school resort nestled in beautiful redwoods and with a river gently flowing by with water that is warm enough that even I, the semi-tropical blooded Cajun, can swim in without nary a tooth chatter.
When I first moved here, and bought a car, I spent many weekends speeding off to the little resort town of Guerneville. I was happy just to drive through it. Just a glimpse. I love the trees, it's proximity to wine tastings, the slow river, the lazy beaches, the quirky citizens and vacationers. I get to the river and say, "Aaaaaah."
Last year we rented a house there for a week. It was the first time to commit to more than an overnight.
When school ended this year, I noticed that Russian River Getaways had a special where you could rent one of their homes without the week minimum through mid-June. So, we rented a gorgeous house RIGHT ON THE RIVER.
My friend, Denise, did one better and purchased her own place just weeks after our vacation last year.
This year, we had a great time at the Stumptown Daze parade and barbecue in Guerneville.
Nothing beats your own dock and your own canoe.
But an inflatable raft works fine too.
There's a great public beach in Guerneville, but we are partial to the less crowded beach at Monte Rio.
Plenty of day trips like the Healdsburg Salvation Army for some amazing thrifting, Fort Ross (and the whole drive to the mouth of the river), and more.