April is usually the time I like to go to Hawaii, but why bother when we live on the beautiful island of Sonoma County? Any time is a good time for a “Circle the Island” trip!
Beginning in Guerneville, we head out to the coast, past cows and sheep, redwood trees, and views of the Russian River, where we reach our first stop: Duncans Mill. There are lots of little shops here and a real old fashioned Country Store where you can buy lemonade, a pickle, a ceramic collectable, or a wind chime. There’s Wine and Cheese tasting (707-865-0566), Pig Alley and Dreamers & Weavers. There is an art gallery too and if it’s time for brunch on a weekend, the restaurant Cape Fear (707-865-9135) where I like to order grits and eggs with smoked salmon. Yumm-me! Duncans Mill is the home of the Russian River Rodeo and some of my best friends. Yee- haw! I love you guys!
Past more cows, redwoods, sheep, the river and a right turn at Highway One to Jenner where the seals are usually out sunning. Get out of the car here to breathe in the windy salt air and watch the surf crash on the rocks. Don’t get too close – the tides are ripping! Say hello to Hawaii while you’re there (smile). Turn around and head back down Highway One and a right turn to take you across the bridge over the river. If you haven’t eaten yet there’s an Indian restaurant – Sizzling Tandoor (707-865-0625) – that has great views of the river and surrounding hills and serves a wonderful array of Indian delicacies. (Hint: Have a breath mint).
Now back on the road and up the hill – Wow! What views! Too bad the driver can’t look – ha, ha. There are many pull outs along the road to Bodega Bay where you can stop and have a look. I hope it’s sunny! The water is glistening and the grass is blowing like green hair in the wind… A few more cows and some horses on the right hand side. There are a series of state beaches all along this stretch of Sonoma County coast where you can stop and kick some sand, watch surfers, or picnic. Fifteen miles south of Jenner, you’ll make your way into into Bodega Bay – stop and buy a wind sock or a kite. More little shops: knick knacks, glass, shells, t-shirts, a surf shop…Now if you’re hungry stop for some oysters and clam chowder or a seafood salad at Inn at the Tides Restaurant where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds starring Tippi Hedron. Try some down home friendly service at the Sandpiper or buy fresh fish off a boat from a real fisherman at Spud Point Marina. Bodega Bay is home to the Fisherman’s Festival April 21-22. Check out their website for the full schedule.
On the road again…just south of Bodega Bay, Doran Beach makes a nice stop for a walk in the sand. Make a sand castle and listen to the gulls. Or take a dip in the safest beach on the Sonoma Coast. This area is also home to some great vacation rentals and golf. On to the actual town of Bodega and a short detour to Valley Ford for a stop at the local watering hole for bar-b-que oysters and a beer – Interesting little village, hmm?
Jump back on the Bodega Highway towards Sebastopol and take a left at Freestone and visit Osmosis Spa where you can bathe Japanese style in organic rice hulls and cedar, get a massage, take in some aroma therapy…. Or buy more bread and baked goods than you know you should eat at Wild Flour Bakery. If you don’t get there early, you’re probably going to miss out. Oh, go ahead! Buy some for later! You could take your last venture for the day into Occidental which has several popular restaurants like the Union Hotel and of course more shopping!
Graton also offers some great places for dinner like Underwood Bar and Bistro or the Willow Wood Market Cafe. Shopping there too – Graton Art Gallery and Far West Trading Company and Tea Bar – the place to buy bulk teas and essential oils. Then back into Guerneville where you can stop by Main Street Station to have a drink and see the last set of whoever is playing there that night. There is always someone good and jazzy! In Guerneville I hope you are staying at one of the charming bed and breakfast inns like the Sonoma Orchid Inn, Creekside Inn, or Fern Grove Cottages. Enjoy your visit to the Isle of West Sonoma County!
Check out Russian River Inns for some places to stay in Guerneville and Monte Rio. The Russian River Valley is a great place to make your home base for day trips to the coast, the vineyards, and the redwoods.