A Rustic River Retreat

By Alex Gryciuk

Where’s the best place to visit? Cabo? Disneyland? Tahoe? Somewhere relaxing and fun? Where’s your ideal travel destination?

To me, the most amazing place to visit is Gurneville. Just two hours away from home, this small and historic town remains a great vacation spot; drawing me and my family back every year.


Tucked away in the trees and by a peaceful river, Gurneville exists as the excellent vacation location for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Offering a lodge, comfortable cabins, great campsites, and amenities like showers, laundry facilities and wifi, Johnson’s Beach serves as superb lodging for those looking to stay in Guerneville. A great gauge for how enjoyable a stay will be, the bathrooms and campsites are always clean. Staying at this wonderful campsite, you’ll find that the tree cover (it doesn’t get too hot) and the three minute walk to Johnson’s Beach, a rocky riverside beach, are truly one of a kind perks. Though not the only place where you can stay for the night, I definitely recommend this establishment for its location, accommodations, and extremely friendly staff. 

Wherever you decide to stay, an afternoon of sunbathing on the river beach, swimming in refreshing river water, and kayaking in the sunshine are always less than a ten minute walk away; the Russian River certainly serves as a venue perfect for relaxing vacation activities. Also in close proximity, beautiful coastal views found at Goat Rock Beach, Bodega Bay, and Sonoma Coast State Park are easily reachable in a car. Furthermore, just 45 minutes from Johnson’s Beach, Fort Ross, an interesting place to learn about California’s history and enjoy breathtaking cliff views, certainly entertains all who visit. Even closer, the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve provides great tree cover to those who enjoy hiking and spending time in California’s coastal forests. The perfect intermediary for nature oriented activities, Gureneville is a great tourist destination for those looking to enjoy nature and the coastal beauty California has to offer. 


Though small, this town hosts some food establishments that pack big, flavorful punches.

Open seven days a week, The Guerneville Taco Truck serves as a local favorite; even after almost 31 years of business. With a diverse and relatively inexpensive menu there’s something for everyone to try. Some of my favorite menu items include the #4 Burrito, #26 Dinner Plate, and the #3 Taco Plate. If you aren’t hungry for Mexican food, you can also choose from a handful of classic American choices (#19 Hamburger, #20 California Fries, or #18 Hotdog) that, according to Vazquez Brother George, are on the menu to “accommodate for others and make them feel at home”. A result of this truck’s effort to constantly “improve and serve customers best”, the California Burrito is a fan favorite because “the fries [that are inside] are definitely super interesting”. Certainly better than some establishments back at home, each menu item is perfectly seasoned and delicious. Furthermore, just like any restaurant, in their free time, workers like to “mess around” with “Grandpa”, an employee that has worked with their company for 15 years. Never too serious, you’ll find that friendly atmosphere adds to stellar customer service and heightens the dining experience for all. So, whether you’re driving through Sonoma County or visiting Gurneville, if you find yourself craving some delicious food, I definitely recommend this taco truck and their delectable menu items! Hopefully the Guerneville Taco Truck will “expand in the next two years or so” despite “juggling a lot [running the successful River Inn’s breakfast dining]” so that more visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the successful food empire that the Vazquez brothers have established in Guerneville. 

Some of the best ice cream you’ll ever taste, Nimble and Finns serves as another must stop shop on your trip to Gurneville. Unlike any ice cream shop, Nimble and Finns creates new, interesting flavors that ensight a party in your mouth. Taking inspiration from their start at the farmer’s market, owner Leandra says she and her sister draw from seasonal, local fruits that remind them of their farmers market days and “herbs that [they] grow in [their] garden”. Their creative kitchen innovations, despite “having no culinary experience” have won Nimble and Finn’s awards for “Dark Chocolate, Strawberry Buttermilk, and Maple Bourbon Bacon Brittle” at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Some of my favorite flavors include fan favorite Lavender Honeycomb, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Honeyed Peach. Regardless of flavor, each tub is made with fresh, local, seasonal, and organic products that make each spoonful feel like a creamy, flavorful, yummy heaven on earth. Making an effort to “source [their] milk from organic Straus milk for environmental reasons” and creating food they would “want to feed to their kids”, the quality of ingredients not only makes a huge difference in overall taste, but also separates this company from big corporate shops like Baskin Robbins. Further separating this company from others, this shop is located in a local, historical bank that still has intricate detailing like“original tile which is 101 years old” and “opal light switches”. Where you can enjoy ice cream in a vault or admire the archaic building exterior, Nimble and Finns is perfect for your tastebuds and Instagram feed. Sadly, we will not be seeing this company down in Los Gatos as “right now, two [shops] is it”. But, I would like to think that its few stores and unfranchised quality makes Gurneville’s frozen delicacy just that much more special. Overall, as some of the best ice cream you’ll ever have, I definitely recommend giving this place a try!


Just as fun as a day in the elements, a stroll down Main Street provides additional entertainment perfect for travelers looking for an alternative to outdoor activities.
Participating in the high end art scene, Guerneville’s exhibits not only provide the opportunity to enjoy beautiful artwork on a vacation stay, but also display local talent and creativity. Hanging on walls and on pedestals, a multitude of art in all forms (sculpture, canvas, photography, ceramics, etc) leave every onlooker with something to admire and enjoy. Viewable at two of my favorite galleries, Oli (a building exuding colorful modern energy) and the Russian River Art Gallery (a smaller, more local showroom), Donavan’s colorful, humanoid paintings, Ferran Torras’s vivid collages, Dan Melville’s unconventional, playful sculptures, and Aaron Poovey’s quality stone jewelry are all pieces worth “checking out”. A fabric art form, Rio Rio, a vintage clothing store that contains high quality inventory, is also a shop worth visiting for those looking to appreciate vintage fashion and interesting collections.

For its incredibly friendly atmosphere, abundance of entertainment, and wonderful location I couldn’t recommend Guerneville enough for any vacation getaway. Anyone looking for a spontaneous trip or fun excursion for the weekend, pack your car, drive two hours and enjoy all that Gurneville has to offer. You will definitely enjoy your stay.