Earth : North America : United States of America : California : North Coast (California) : Sonoma County : Russian River
The Russian River is a summer resort and wine area in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties in Northern California, popular for canoeing, trout and salmon fishing, tubing, beach activities, and wine. The main resort towns on the river are Healdsburg and Guerneville, which since the 1970s have been a popular family, wine enthusiast, outdoorsman, and gay-friendly resort area.
The Russian River boasts has a number of fine vineyards, with a specialty in Pinot Noirs. Wineries in the area tend to be smaller and more laid-back than in other parts of Sonoma, and neighbouring Napa.
Guerneville hosts two weekend-long music festivals on Johnson Beach each summer, a Blues Festival at the beginning of the summer and a Jazz Festival at the end. The Vineman and Barb's race start in Guerneville during July and August. These are qualifier races for the Ironman Triathlon that occurs in Hawaii.
Many visitors rent canoes at locations a few minutes upstream of Guerneville (for example, Mirabel Beach in Forestville) and spend a day paddling downstream, through calm water as well as mild rapids, stopping at beaches and enjoying the occasional rope swing, ending the day in Guerneville, where a bus takes them back. You can also rent canoes and/or kayaks at the Monte Rio beach and in Duncans Mills.
Monte Rio hosts the best Fourth of July celebration in the region. With BBQ's, live music, water parade, and fabulous fireworks display -- it is a must see experience. The town also hosts an antique auto show, easter egg hunt and numerous seasonal activities. Monte Rio is also home to the only movie theatre in the Lower Russian River Region.
Duncans Mills hosts a rodeo as well as Civil War re-enactments throughout the summer. It is also know for its shopping village.
Villa Grande is a quiet hamlet along the river. At the Fourth of July the neighbors host a local Bring Your Own Picnic and historical cannons are fired at the end of a Minute Man parade.
Russian River is about one hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101. For most resorts, exit 101 at River Road, the first exit after Santa Rosa and head west (left). Forestville is 9 miles out, Guerneville is 13, Monte Rio is 17, and Jenner-by-the-Sea (where the river empties into the Pacific) is about 22 miles. For less crowded stretches of river, continue north to Healdsburg and beyond.
Golden Gate Transit route #80 brings passengers from San Francisco to Santa Rosa in 2 to 3 hours, depending on time of day. Get off at Santa Rosa's transit mall downtown. From there, Sonoma County Transit routes 20 and 22 offer service to western Sonoma County, including Guerneville and several other points along the Russian River.
There is no train service (at least not since the 1930s).
Shopping in Guerneville is like walking back in time. With ecletic shops, art galleries, wine cellars, and antique stores you are sure to find what you are looking for. The 5 & 10 Store on Main Street sells treats, candies, games and more. At Etc. Etc. you’ll find one of a kind items from around the world.
Groceries can be purchased at the local farmers market, organic food store or Safeway. Every weekend sports a small flea market and local artists can be seen all over town.
Monte Rio has minimal shopping, though there are shops with works from local artists around The Rio Theatre and a wine and cheese boutique with an extensive collection of limited production local Sonoma Wines. You can also buy groceries, get a haircut, and some minor hardware items along Highway 116 and at the Bohemian Highway.
Duncans Mills is the antique and eclectic art shoppers paradise. It is a must stop and shop destination. The quaint shopping village has everything from antiques to river gnomes.
The Russian River area is well known for it's wines. You can find numerous local wineries offering free tastings all over the area. Go to Wine Road to find a complete listing 
From Jenner-by-the-Sea, escape north on Highway 1 as it winds its way up along Russian Gulch Beach, Fort Ross (where Russia maintained a trading outpost and fort in the early 19th century), Kruse Rhododendron State Park, Gualala, and points beyond. The road is curvy and often runs with no guard rails high above the rocky coast—not for the faint-hearted or those prone to car sickness.