Applewood is a Wine Country Romantic Inn located 1 mile away from funky, free-spirited Guerneville a "Hate Free Community."
Relax, Uncork, Unwind... you are at the Russian River
Explore the Redwoods, Vineyards and Sonoma Coast from this Sonoma Wine Country Resort
Guerneville, California, is a diverse rural community surrounded by majestic redwoods that has long been a Sonoma County vacation destination for the weary of San Francisco Bay area residents. Among its many attractions is Armstrong Redwoods State Park, a preserve of first growth redwood trees, laced with hiking and horseback riding trails.
More About Armstrong Redwoods
Established to preserve 805 acres of coastal redwoods, Armstrong Redwoods features the Parson Jones Tree, the tallest tree in the grove, measuring more than 310 feet in height. This is longer than the length of a football field.
The park also features the Colonel Armstrong Tree, which is the oldest tree in the grove, estimated to be over 1,400 years old. You can find this tree within an easy half-mile walk from the park entrance.
Planning a wedding? Armstrong offers a redwood studded group picnic area for your ceremony and reception. The venue accommodates up to 150 guests and approximately 40 vehicles. To reserve this site, contact Armstrong Redwoods directly.
Water Sports and Music
Johnson’s Beach is located in downtown Guerneville and is open to the public, at no charge, for swimming, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Near Guerneville is Monte Rio Beach, where you can also rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and chairs.
The Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival is held here each fall, with a host of stars providing music right on the beach.
Wine Country and Cuisine
The Guerneville area is gaining a reputation for its food scene, as well, since there are three Michelin starred restaurants in Sonoma county, Farmhouse Inn in nearby Forestville and SingleThread and Madrona Manor in Healdsburg.
Most Sonoma County visitors come for the many wineries in the Russian River vicinity. But first, be sure to purchase a Sonoma Passport, which will entitle you to discounts, including free tastings, discounted wine purchases, and free tours.
With your Sonoma Passport in hand, visit Korbel winery, not far from our Guerneville hotel. Russian River Vineyards is also close by, just seven and a half miles away.
Just 13 miles away from Applewood Inn you’ll find Balletto Vineyards and the Hartford Family Winery. Closer to our Guerneville lodge, you’ll find Joseph Swan Vineyards, just ten miles away.
Fogline Vineyards is slightly further away, just 15 miles from our Applewood Inn. Vizlay Vineyards is a stretch further at 17 miles. If you want to travel to the Sonoma Valley, you’ll enjoy visiting the Mayo Family Winery in Glen Ellen. As long as you’re in the Sonoma Valley, you might as well visit Loxton Winer, also in Glen Ellen.
If you ride up to Geyserville, there are several wineries to visit, including Frick Winery, Trentadue, deLormier, and Coppola Winery.
As you head back, stop at the Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg to enjoy their bread, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. As long as you’re in Healdsburg, you might as well visit the Martorana Family Winery.
If you think you’d enjoy a drive through scenic Sonoma County’s wine country, you’ll enjoy almost 60,000 acres of vineyards and more than 425 wineries. You’ll find an online guide for all the wineries in Sonoma County here.
Applewood Wine Tasting Passport
Applewood’s Wine Tasting Passport offers access to the region’s premier wineries. Just pick up your free wine tasting passport from Applewood Inn during your stay here. This passport will entitle you to a complimentary tasting for two.
Here are the wineries included in our passport:
Wine Country Balloons
Wine Country balloon Rides are nearly as popular as the region’s wines. Wine Country Balloons enable you to travel with the gentle air currents that layer the sky. Balloons usually travel at heights of 500 to 1500 feet, similar to the surrounding hill tops. The feeling is one of peace and tranquility as the earth seems to slowly descend and rotate beneath you.
If you’re not afraid of heights and would love to see all of Sonoma County’s Wine Country from an aerial viewpoint, contact Wine Country Balloons to schedule your flight.
Visit the Sonoma Coast
A twenty-minute drive from downtown Guerneville, along the Russian River, will take you to the Sonoma Coast for those who love the Pacific Ocean's salt air and a chance to see the whales, seals, otters, and sea lions that inhabit these waters. Sonoma coast fishing trips are available with local guides for both salt and fresh water fishing.
Of course, a trip to the Sonoma Coast isn’t complete without stopping for a steaming bowl of clam chowder. Order a bowl at the Duck Club, The Birds Café, or Spud Point Crab Company in Bodega Bay. If you want to travel south along the coast, visit Hog Island in Tomales Bay.
The New York Times Came to Town
Here’s what The New York Times reporter Ann Marsh wrote about the Guerneville area on June 15, 2012:
"UNDER a blinding noonday sun, my boyfriend and I pulled onto the comfortably worn commercial strip of Guerneville, Calif., a former lumber town in Sonoma County. Two men, hand-in-hand, ambled past the mix of rustic, renovated and retro storefronts on Main Street, a backdrop that suggested a dash of San Francisco’s Union Street and Mayberry. A chic restaurant sat near a pawnshop that sat near the Guerneville 5 & 10, whose metal marquee and wooden sign made the place look like a relic from the 40s, which, in fact, it is."
"The town sits in an alluvial plain between steeply forested hills, a striking terrain that provides a tourism quadruple threat: a hikable forest, by a navigable river, near brooding sea cliffs, and — appearances notwithstanding — a viticultural designation known for chardonnays, pinots and syrahs."
"As if that weren’t enough to entice any vacationer, a large sign on our way into town announced that we were entering “A hate-free community,” our first indication that we were bound for the sort of relaxed gay vacation destination that is open to all comers, even straight ones."
"That meant that Guerneville was filled with a collection of people more varied than you’d expect in a town of about 5,000. For every gay couple we saw there was a straight one with children and scattered in their midst were a handful of aging hippies and woodsy locals. The town’s residents, visitors and that hodgepodge of storefronts on Main Street reflect its transition from timber industry roots to hippie enclave to gay haven."
The Town’s History
Guerneville (/ˈɡɜrnvɪl/ gərnē-vil) is an unincorporated town known for its historical LGBT community and culture, making it a popular destination for both homosexual and heterosexual couples, and for corporate retreats and family and friend reunions.
Guerneville is also known for its natural beauty, liberal atmosphere, and proximity to wine-tasting and redwood forests. It’s built adjacent to the Russian River. Redwoods grew in the riverbed with such vigor that just a few centuries ago, the valley had the greatest biomass density on the planet, according to local lore.
The local Pomo Indians used the area as a summer camp and called it "Ceola" (/ˈsiːoʊleɪ/ or cee-oh-lay) which meant "shady place." Except for a large, beautiful stand of truly ancient trees preserved in the Fife Creek watershed, now the centerpiece of Armstrong Redwoods State Park, many of the trees were logged in the 19th century, giving rise to the first English name for the place – "Stumptown." The annual town parade still commemorates the old place name by calling itself "Stumptown Days."
The present name, Guerneville, was introduced to honor Swiss immigrant George Guerne, a local businessman of the 19th century who owned the town's sawmill.
By 1870, there was a U.S. Post Office in Guerneville; it was listed by the name "Guerneville."
Although locals may be found selling T-shirts that say, "Don't call it Guerneyville," many have called the town "Guerneyville" in spelling and pronunciation since the 1800s.
The extensive redwood forests on the surrounding mountains are less than 200 years old as they are replacement plantings for much of the logging done in the 19th century.
Guerneville Gains Popularity
The area became popular with wealthy vacationers from San Francisco in the late 19th century. The San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad linked the town to the Ferries of San Francisco Bay in 1877. Even with the demise of train service in the late 1930s, the area's resorts remained popular with vacationers who came by automobile through the 1950s.
A renaissance took place in the late 1970s as large numbers of gay men and lesbians from San Francisco identified the area as a prime recreational destination for weekends. Many older resorts gained a new lease on life with the new visitors, and in general, the town's businesses began to thrive again.
Eventually, more families and retirees moved into the area and resorts, once gay, turned to a straight or mixed clientele. By far the bulk of the tourist lodging lies in vacation rentals, welcoming all clienteles.
Russian River Area Is Popular with Hollywood
Guerneville's older metal truss bridge can be filmed from the newer bridge and made an appearance in the movie Mumford as a location for people to walk and talk in idyllic settings. The independent film Deep Dark Canyon was filmed in Guerneville. Surrounding communities were also regular filming locations for the 1960s television series Combat!
The crew filming Deep Dark Canyon, released in 2013, came to Guerneville for a few days. Later, actor and Oscar nominee James Franco came to Guerneville in 2015. A crew arrived for several days and shot scenes for The Fixer at the Guerneville Veterans Memorial Hall and in a wooded area off Tyrone Road, west of the Bohemian Highway.
Guerneville is the home of radio station KGGV-FM, 95.1 The Bridge, (www.kggvfm.org) a 24/7 non-profit, commercial-free, community-interactive radio station, which features a wide variety of locally-produced programming, streaming live on the web.
Russian River’s Small-Town Charm
Modern Guerneville continues to exude small-town charm, from its plaza in the town center with permanent chess tables, to small shops, and a public beach area in the heart of town along the Russian River that is used for fishing, swimming, boating, and sunbathing. Just as in the past, the river is open to the public.
The town is a vacation destination for people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. It hosts an annual Lazy Bear Weekend in late July or early August, Polar Bear Weekend, in mid-January (gay bear charity events for the LGBT community), and Women's Weekend in the summer.
Guerneville is politically progressive, consistent with most of western Sonoma County politics.