Guerneville is the kind of NorCal town you can’t help but love—ringed by redwoods, bisected by the meandering Russian River and only a 90-minute drive from SF—it has “summer weekend” written all over it. Check into Boon Hotel + Spa (14711 Armstrong Woods Rd., Guerneville, 707-869-2721), a year-old property half a mile from the center of town, owned by former San Franciscans Crista Luedtke and Jill McCall. This whitewashed paradise has only 14 rooms, many of which ring the pool, and the gray-and-orange interiors sport a modern bent, with George Nelson lamps and cork floors. Best of all, your well-behaved dog is welcome to join you. Think of this property as the relaxation zone—lounge in the hot tub, schedule a massage or borrow a cruiser bike for a quick trip into town. In the morning, fuel up on French press coffee—from Flying Goat Coffee Co. in Healdsburg—delivered to your room or poolside, before heading out.
When it’s time to hit the river, head to Johnson’s Beach & Resort (16241 First St., Guerneville, 707-869-2022). At this vintage-style “resort” in the center of town, you can rent canoes, paddleboats, umbrellas and beach chairs—take a paddle down the river, then return for an ice cream cone or a beer. Johnson’s is family-friendly (read: lots of kids on the beach), but there’s plenty of room to set up camp away from the throngs. In September, Johnson’s will also play host to the annual two-day Russian River Jazz and Blues Fest.
But if you don’t mind a short drive, book a table at Restaurant Eloise (2295 Gravenstein Hwy. South, Sebastopol, 707-823-6300) in nearby Sebastopol, owned by the husband-and-wife team of Eric Korsh and Ginevra Iverson. The duo, who cooked in NYC at Picholine and Prune before relocating to Sonoma, prepare soulful, smart food—which ranges from a simple dish of asparagus cloaked in a classic French gribiche sauce to pappardelle with braised rabbit and English peas. Many of the ingredients come from the on-site garden. For dessert, don’t miss the signature baba au rhum, an oversized brioche cake soaked in sugar syrup and accompanied by a pitcher of rum and a bowl of freshly whipped cream. A weekend like this is enough to make country living seem downright civilized.