When the foggy wind is whipping through San Francisco streets, it's easy to forget that summer really does exist less than an hour away. In fact, the 5-day forecast for Napa and Sonoma currently predicts an average high of 79 degrees F. Few things are better on a hot summer day in the wine country than sipping a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Rosé at a winery. But relaxing at a naturally beautiful swimming hole, a river, or a sandy beach in Sonoma is definitely in the running. Here are a few favorite places to take a dip in the Sonoma Wine Country.
Sonoma beaches range from hot and sandy private riverbanks to windswept, chilly, and rocky ocean nooks.
Monte Rio Beach is a popular spot for locals and travelers alike. This sandy stretch along the Russian River has everything from sport rentals (like canoes) to a concession stand. It may not be a secret spot, but the people watching is fantastic and it’s a great place to celebrate the 4th of July.
Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach is also sandy and offers picnic facilities, restrooms, and a lifeguard on duty (most of the time). It’s home to the “Great Race” and parking can be tough by late morning.
There are plenty of less crowded beaches on the Sonoma Coast and some favorites (although keep the chilly factor in mind) are Salmon Creek, Goat Rock, School House and Doran Beach, which is sometimes crowded, but long, sandy, and often warmer.
Lakes and Private Spots
If you’re looking to get away from crowds, it’s often best to hike to a private river-bend on the Russian River. One great access point is off Odd Fellows Road, accessed from Route 116 between Forestville and Guerneville, or from River Road just before you get to Korbel Winery. Be sure to watch out for poison oak and other natural hazards if you are seeking out your own nook.
Alternately, head for one of the large lakes. Lake Sonoma is the spot for boating and water sports. Camping is available in both "drive-in" and “primitive boat-in or hike-in” options. There are other private areas to be found like Yorty Creek in Cloverdale, which is a popular spot for kayakers.
Spring Lake in Santa Rosa is family-friendly and offers boat rentals (no motors), a lifeguard-protected swimming lagoon, fishing, camping, hiking, and picnicking.
We can't find them all so please leave a comment with your favorite spots!