Activities to Plan Ahead for your trip to the Russian River

While you’re planning your summer day trip or vacation with your family, it’s always a good idea to make a reservation for the activities you want to do. Maybe you want a private chef?  Or you’re celebrating a special occasion and want to make lifelong memories? Or you simply need a guaranteed spot at the beach?

Here is more than a dozen fun activities to plan ahead while visiting the Russian River this Summer:

Kayak, Canoe, and SUP Rentals

The Russian River area has a lot of great options for boat rentals. If you’re not staying at a vacation rental like Lucky Bend Lookout that provides watercraft then you can plan to rent ahead of time.

Johnson’s Beach
Map: https://bit.ly/3y9guv0
How to reserve: JohnsonsBeach.com

Johnsons Beach is conveniently located in the middle of downtown Guerneville, and since COVID times, they have started taking reservations for boat rentals and beach spots online. They rent canoes, one seat kayaks, 2 seat kayaks, and inner tubes. Boaters must be at least 5 years old. There is no shuttle service so you would be paddling in the calm water near the beach. From 5/15 to 6/6 the rentals and facilities are only available on weekends, and then on 6/11 all services are available 7 days per week. If you want to hang out at the beach when they are open then you will also need to rent a beach spot online. A beach umbrella is included, which is a really nice bonus. 

King’s Sport & Tackle
Map: bit.ly/3w16eTE
Reserve: 707-869-2156

King’s Sport & Tackle rents out kayaks & Stand Up Paddle Boards. There are many options for your start and end location along the Russian River, and they can shuttle you back and  forth as well. If you want to transport your own kayaks, you don’t have to go on the shuttle. Children need to be at least 8 years old to rent equipment from King’s.

Burke’s Canoe Trips
Map: bit.ly/3ybuVie
Reserve: 707-887-1222

Burke’s Canoe Trips rents out kayaks and canoes. They offer one option for a paddle trip on the river which runs from their headquarters in Forestville to 10 miles downriver. They then shuttle you back to the start. Children need to be at least 5 years old to rent equipment from Burke’s. They open for the summer season beginning Memorial day weekend on Saturday May 29th, and open seven days a week thereafter for canoe trips, kayak trips, and camping, through mid October. They do reservations the old fashioned way so just give them a call at 707-887-1222.

Water Treks Eco Tours
Map: bit.ly/2QhYGwy
Reserve: 707-865-2249

Water Treks Eco Tours is located at the Russian River Estuary in Jenner. They do kayak rentals, guided tours, and classes. They are not offering shuttle trips at this time due to COVID. Call 707-865-2249 to make your reservation.

SUP Odyssey
Map: bit.ly/3tPpt0U
Reserve: Call or text 415-497-0179 or e-mail supodyssey@gmail.com

SUP Odyssey offers self-guided SUP trips, and hourly SUP rentals on the Russian River near Rio Nido.  Dogs are welcome with an added $5 fee.​ Trips start at 9 am or earlier on weekends due to crowds. Weekday trips can start any time. Reservations and deposit are required and there is a 2 board minimum per trip. Call or text 415-497-0179 or e-mail supodyssey@gmail.com to make your reservation.

Swimming Spots

The most popular swim spots are the many public beaches on the river and they don’t require reservations. But you may want to plan ahead so you don’t have to worry about parking lots that fill up early in the day. There are two other privately owned swim options in the Russian River area.

Rio Nido Roadhouse
Map: bit.ly/3eOoDxj
Reserve: No reservations required at this time!

The Rio Nido Roadhouse has the only family friendly publicly available swimming pool along the Russian River. They have a bar & restaurant, a pool with snack bar, a grassy area, and live music on Saturday nights.

The pool is open from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend unless unusually warm or cold weather changes the dates. During the day, a lifeguard is always on duty. The Snack Bar has a kid-oriented menu. Daily passes cost $9.  You can buy your tickets at the door when you arrive at the roadhouse. This venue actually doesn’t require reservations to be made ahead of time so it can be a backup activity if you didn’t get a reservation you wanted.

Johnson’s Beach
Map: https://bit.ly/3y9guv0
How to reserve: JohnsonsBeach.com

Johnson’s beach is the only Russian River beach that requires advance reservations for swimming. A reservation will get you a large spot on the beach, with good social distancing from the other spots. It comes with a beach umbrella which is quite convenient. Johnson’s Beach also has a snack bar and boat rentals. 

From From 5/15/21 to 6/6/21 you can only reserve a beach spot on the weekend. On weekdays until 6/10/21 you can go to the beach without a reservation but there are no services and no onsite parking, so you may have to walk a long distance from your car to the beach. Starting on 6/11/21 the beach spots can be reserved 7 days per week. We checked the web site recently and the summer is already starting to fill up. We asked Johonson’s Beach what time of day they recommend checking for openings due to cancellations, and they recommended late morning/early afternoon. 

Zip Lining at Sonoma Canopy Tours

Map: bit.ly/3tOBsvQ
Reserve: sonomacanopytours.com

Sonoma Canopy Tours offers zip lining adventures in the beautiful Redwood Forests of Occidental. They have two unique courses, each a two-and-a-half hour eco tour that includes multiple zip lines, sky bridges, a majestic spiral staircase and rappel to the forest floor. Big kids can enjoy the zip lines too if they are 10 years old AND weigh 70 pounds. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent/adult on the Canopy Tour experience. They have several spots available, 7 days per week and in looking at availability the 10:30 time slot appears to be most popular. So if you want to reserve at that time, we recommend you reserve at least 1-2 weeks in advance.

Spas

If you REALLY need a day of self care and relaxation then don’t wait until the last minute to make your plan or you will sadly be missing out. Below are our 3 favorite spas in the Russian River area.

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary
Map: bit.ly/2Qm9VEo
Reserve: Osmosis.com

Located in Occidental, Osmosis is the most popular, most unique, and most beautiful spa in the county. They are known for their Cedar Enzyme Bath, rejuvenating massages, organic facials, and Zen-inspired meditation gardens. Weekend appointments are booked out for 3+ weeks in advance so you definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute to sign up for your spa experience. To make your reservation go to Osmosis.com.

West Sonoma Inn & Spa
Map: bit.ly/33Ra1qt
Reserve: 707-869-2874

The West Sonoma Inn & Spa is located in Guerneville on over 6 acres, adjacent to a hundred acre vineyard. It’s a convenient location if you are staying in Guerneville. They offer a wide variety of massages, body treatments, and facials. To make your appointment call 707-869-2874.

Boon Hotel & Spa
Map: https: bit.ly/3uOJZ3l
Reserve: call (707) 869-2721 or email info@boonhotels.com

Boon Spa is located in Guerneville and they offer a wide menu of massage services. They also have a pool and hot tub that you are welcome to use for up to 2 hours either before or after your spa service. If you visit with a group of 4 people for a spa day they will provide a free bottle of champagne. To make your appointment call (707) 869-2721 or email info@boonhotels.com.

Golf

Much like how the Russian River wine region is a much more chill and easy going atmosphere, golf in the Russian River is similarly low-key. There are several full length courses but the two best courses are both 9 holes. Northwood is crown jewel of golf in all of Sonoma county while the Sebastopol Golf Course is family-run passion project.

Northwood Golf Course
Map: bit.ly/3ycekdY
Reserve: https://www.northwoodgolf.com/ or call (707) 865-1116

Located in Monte Rio, Northwood Golf course is a must for any golfer who visits the Russian River area. Designed in 1928 by Dr. Alister MacKenzie for members of the Bohemian fraternity, this 2,893-yard, 9-hole course is set in a glade guarded by stands of redwoods. It is public golf course and not expensive at all. We like to enjoy an amazing blended cocktail from their restaurant either during or after golfing the 9 hole course. It’s called the Ramos Fizz and it is most convenient to pick it up when between holes 4 & 5.

Sebastopol Golf Course
Map: bit.ly/33Xqk5l
Reserve: https://www.sonomacountygolf.com/course/sebastopol-golf-course/ or call (707) 823-9852

While Northwood has a number of holes long enough to whip out the driver, Sebastopol Golf Course is the little brother, mostly for working those irons. The place is inexpensive and is run by an awesome family who care for the course as if if were the yard at their house, because it is. Yes, the family who run the course live there too. It totally has the vibe of playing golf in your grandma’s garden (in a good way).

Russian River Cycle Service

Map: bit.ly/2SGWb7R
Reserve: russianrivercycles.com

Russian River Cycle Service is the only bicycle rental shop in the Russian River area. They are conveniently located in downtown Forestville, just across the street from my favorite bike trail, the West County Regional Trail. Each bike comes with a helmet, pump, basket and enough locks to secure the group. If you want to cycle in an area other than Forestville, or want to bicycle close to wherever you are staying, then they will deliver to you. They offer hybrid bikes, road bikes, kids bikes, and bike trailers. They give a 10% discount for rentals of 4 or more.

Wineries

Sonoma county has hundreds of wineries and due to COVID restrictions and nearly all of them require advance reservations. Many wineries do not allow children, some offer food and some do not. So it’s best to email or call in advance if you have questions. We have made our own list and map of our 20 favorite family friendly wineries. To sign up to receive the map, you can click here.

Private Chef

If you are staying at Lucky Bend Lookout during your time at the Russian River, then you have to option to hire a private chef. Our super friendly chef Kelly will make the menu with you ahead of time and do the grocery shopping. Then at the house he cooks everything fresh, serves you, then washes the dishes while you eat a homemade dessert. All with a smile on his face! Everyone raves about him! To make your plan for our private chef contact Sarah directly.

As you can see, there’s plenty to do along the Russian River if you are wanting more than sit on a dock, jump in the river, and BBQ a delicious meal. But those things are pretty great too and you don’t have to leave the house if you don’t want to!

This local insight brought to you by your hosts at Lucky Bend Lookout; a modern yet family-friendly Russian River vacation home. Check our availability and book online or call/text Sarah at 415-516-6961 to reserve.