Guerneville Day Trip

We kicked off today’s day trip from Oakland to Guerneville at 7:30am.

Guerneville is a quaint town nestled next to the Russian River. It’s mostly a one-treet town with storefront buildings built in the mid 1800’s.

We easily found parking on the main street. We asked a local for his favorite place to eat and he recommended Big Bottom Market (4 stars on Yelp), a sandwich/salad/coffee place on the main drag.

Big Bottom Market in Guerneville — Good for lunch and coffee

Big Bottom specializes in toasted and melted sandwiches for sit-down or takeout. They also serve beer and wine. The restaurant was comfortable and clean with a natural but modern design.

History Tip: “Big Bottom” refers to Guerneville’s original nickname because it’s on the flood plains of the Russian River.

We ordered a Mezze Plate (greens, olives, hummus, feta), soup and BBQ chips and sat down. The wait was 15 minutes before the food came out but worth it. We learned later that Oprah picked Big Bottom’s biscuits as one of her favorite things.

There was a constant stream of people at Big Bottom.

Secret tip: If you want to sneak some wine onto the beach, Big Bottom has nice cans of wine in their fridge (note: Johnsons Beach security does check your bag for big bottles so if you bring alcohol then you’ll need to be creative).

Note: On a previous trip to Guerneville, we had lunch at boone eat+drink, which is a slightly nicer sit-down restaurant with table service.

Now it was time to hit up Johnson’s Beach (below) along the Russian River. Just follow signs for “The Beach”.

Johnsons Beach in Guerneville

Being typical rookie parents we had to jump into the drugstore first to get sunscreen for our toddler.

We walked down to Johnson’s Beach (just 2 to 3 blocks off the main street). You can try to park closer to Johnsons Beach then the main drag or you could pay $7 and park within 100 yards of the beach.

A nice security guy felt our bag for alcohol before he let us on to the beach. He just felt the bottom of our largest bags.

Johnsons is usually crowded but you can still easily find a spot. Johnsons Beach is a rock beach (large gravel instead of sand).

If you’ve got a toddler, there’s a kiddy beach section that is semi-roped off and is about 3 feet deep.

For food and beverages at Johnsons, you’re allowed to bring in food but not alcohol. Johnsons has its own little burger/hot dog shack and served beer and wine…oh, and gigantic soft-serve ice cream!

You can also rent things like:

Even though this is the Russian River, there is just a lazy current because you are at the edge of the dam.

There are rocks at the bottom of the river so when you’re in the water so you might want to wear water-shoes.

The water does too deep to stand when as you wade across the river.

It can get super-hot and is very exposed so renting an umbrella is a good idea. We don’t recommend you bring your own umbrella because the beach ground is very hard. The staff has to take a mallet to hammer in the Johnsons umbrellas.

After 90 minutes at Johnsons, we walked back up to the main street to get some ice cream at Guerneville Bank Club.

Guerneville Bank Club: The left pic is from the counter where you order (you can see the vault behind the staff) and the right pic is from the perspective of the vault where we ate our ice cream!

This is a unique ice cream parlor as it was originally the town’s bank. They’ve retained some of the individual woodwork and tile work. The bank sat vacant for more than 30 years until it was converted with love and attention to detail to its current iteration.

They’ve also kept the original vault and you can walk in and eat your ice cream and take selfies.

In the back, there is a small tasting room for a local winery.

Coffee in Guerneville?

Rob went back to Big Bottom and had an Iced Soy Latte. It was solid.

Other things to See on the Way There or On the Way Home

Have fun in Guerneville!

Vitals:

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Maverick Kelly’s 52 Day Trips

Hi! I’m Maverick. My mommy, daddy & me are on a mission to take 52 day trips around the San Francisco Bay Area! Thx for joining in the fun!