Expert: Camille LeGrand
Years living in area: Full-time 15 years; part-time an additional 6 years
Company: Russian River Getaways
What makes the Russian River area a great destination to visit and rent a vacation home:
We have it all: gorgeous scenery, great Mediterranean weather, proximity to many activities. This area is geared to year-round outdoor activities with redwood forested mountains, a serene summer river, and beautiful creeks, all a short distance to Pacific coast beaches. Activities include hiking, biking (Lance Armstrong trains here), fishing, swimming, boating, hot air-ballooning, golf, and horseback-riding, in addition to world class wine-tasting at our hundreds of wineries known for some of the best pinot noir, chardonnay, and zinfandel in the world. We also have great food, emphasizing locally grown ingredients since just about everything grows in the boutique Sonoma County farmland.
What the top things to do in the Russian River area:
Hiking among the ancient redwood trees in Armstrong Wood State Park
Strolling the beach at Goat Rock State Park with its giant rock formations, huge sandy beaches, and harbor seal population
Kayaking the river (try it under a full moon)
Japanese spa treatments at Osmosis in Freestone
Guided tours of the winery and garden at Korbel
Charles M. Schultz museum and ice-skating in Santa Rosa
Mud baths at Calistoga
Day trip to Bodega Bay; day trip to Salt Point
Any hidden gems or events travelers should be aware of?
There are rare performances held in the amphitheatre in the redwood forest (see http://www.stewardsofthecoastandredwoods.org/) for event schedule; hiking to Bull Frog in the Austin Creek Reserve; our own African safari at Safari West (http://www.safariwest.com/), Cazadero General Store, shopping and brunch in Occidental, the Pink Elephant tavern in Monte Rio, watching the logging operation at Berry’s Saw Mill, shopping and dining at Duncans Mills (a re-creation of a turn of the century logging town), hanging out at the Blue Heron (especially when they have local live music, always really good, and try the barbecued oysters on the outdoor patio on Sunday afternoon), the World War II Quonset hut movie theater, with period murals, in Monte Rio, Raymond’s Bakery.
The rodeo in June, Civil Wars Days re-enactment in July, Women’s Weekends in May and September, Jazz & Blues Festival in September, Winter Wineland in January, Barrel-Tasting Weekends in March.
Recommended Russian River Restaurants and Nightlife?
Top five restaurants: We are a gourmet mecca with dozens and dozens of fabulous restaurants, so it’s impossible to name all the great restaurants. Here are a few:
Farmhouse Inn, Cape Fear, Applewood, Zazu, Mosaic, The Sandpiper, Underwood Bar and Bistro, John Ash
La Tapatia Tacqueria (the best Mexican food outside Mexico), Garden Grill (great hamburgers and curly fries), Willowood Café
Not a nightlife kind of place. Neighborhood bars: The Pink Elephant in Monte Rio, the Blue Heron in Duncans Mills.