Russian River trip diary

The Russian River flows southward through Mendocino and Sonoma Counties in California, eventually into the Pacific Ocean. It's also flooded at the moment, due to all the rain we've been having. Thankfully, Sean and I were able to enjoy a long weekend there a few weeks ago before things got totally out of control. Once the waters recede—and the weather warms up—I'd definitely recommend a visit. Here's where we ate, drank, stayed, and explored.

We spent the day in lower Sonoma with friends—we both had to pick up wine at Scribe, and after a bottle there, we both ended up joining Gundlach Bundschu nearby—so it was a bit on the late side by the time we reached Guerneville, the town where we stayed.  We brought Zuni with us and it had been raining (and cold), so outdoor dining wasn't an option. Thankfully, we found Betty Spaghetti, and the very dog-friendly bar next door let us eat our takeout there. It was Zuni's first gay bar, and she loved it.

There are a lot of places to see redwood trees in northern California—Muir Woods tends to get the most love, since it's so close to San Francisco—but my favorite so far has been Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. It was a very short drive from our hotel, and it has miles and miles of trails for all levels of hiking expertise. Since we had Zuni, we had to stick to the paved roads, but we walked for hours and there were so many places to go, we could have spent all day there. Zuni was in heaven, sniffing all the trees and nooks.

After lunch at the Garden Grill, we headed out for a little wine tasting. I love the wineries in this area—they tend to be way less pretentious than Napa or even Sonoma, the wines are just as good, and the tasting fees are much more reasonable (and often waived with a purchase). Our first stop was the dog-friendly Balletto Vineyards. The tasting room was quite the hotspot, but everyone who worked there was super friendly (they gave Zuni a treat), and they squeezed us in. We took home 4 bottles, including their "party pinot," zinfandel, and rosé. After that, we headed to Horse and Plow, where we shot my fur vest outfit post. We arrived close to closing time, so we opted for glasses of wine (for me) and cider (for Sean) instead of a tasting, which was probably for the best. The place was crowded in a good way, but seemed more like a cool hangout spot, rather than a place to really learn about wine. Their outdoor area is huge and very dog friendly; I could see myself hanging out there for hours on a nice summer afternoon.

Sean had heard through friends that The Barlow was the happening place in Sebastapol, so that's where we headed for dinner. And it was—it's a huge indoor/outdoor market district featuring food, drinks, and goods made by local artisans, and you could easily spend hours there hopping around all the vendors. We ended up at Crooked Goat Brewing, where I had this oddly delicious raspberry beer and takeout pizza.

We stayed at the Cottages on River Road, which was very cute and dog-friendly—they brought Zuni a towel, bowl, and treat on our first night, and there's a small fenced area where dogs can do their business. Our cottage was very clean and way bigger than we expected, with an extra twin bed and separate bedroom. At night, they roast s'mores by the fire pit (which we missed both nights) and there's free breakfast in the lobby in the morning. It was so quiet and peaceful; I'd love to go back in the summer when it's warmer and you can pop across the street to dip into the river.

After breakfast at the very cute Farmhand restaurant (which was across the street from our hotel and overlooks the Russian River), we headed west to the coast for a scenic drive home along Route 1. We stopped at Portuguese Beach near Bodega Bay—it was nice and wide, and perfect for Zuni's first trip to the beach. Driving down Route 1 takes twice as long as the freeway, but it's one of the most gorgeous roads in the world, and I always recommend driving it when you can!

OUTFIT DETAILS: Avec les Filles coat (also here) | 525 America fur vest | Cuddl Duds tunic (c/o) | Frame Parisian jeans | Free People Jaden scarf (also here) | A.P.C. Sac demi-lune | Golden Goose Superstar sneakers | Free Press hat


Jeans and a Teacup said...

I'd never heard of this place! It looks beautiful though!

Nancy 's Fashion Style said...

Looks fabulous! And wine tasting! Always fun! Haha.

Claire Justine said...

Looks like a beautiful place Cheryl. Lovely photos :) Thanks for sharing at Welcome To The Weekend Blog Hop. Have a lovely weekend.

Julie | This Main Line Life said...

Sounds like a fun weekend. My husband's sister got re-married about 2 years ago and they had the wedding at a local vineyard. We had a wine tasting the day before and it was so much fun.

Ruth said...

Wow this looks like such an amazing place!

Jessica Jannenga said...

I pinned this as I would love to visit again one day and this sounds like my kinda day. Love the pics of Zuni, so adorable! I love the vineyard pic and the redwood area. We visited Miur woods and I love the redwoods!
thanks for linking!
jess xx said...

Looks like a fabulous trip! How great that you were able to take Zuni too!

Emma xxx

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