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Outward Magazine

  • December 13, 2007

It’s Holiday Season at the Russian River. The river towns of Guerneville, Monte Rio and Duncan’s Mills are decorated, the redwoods look fabulous, and the fun is just beginning. Small town Christmas and New Year celebrations are about to take off and the River wants to invite everyone to attend.

In the weekends leading up to the holiday it’s all about shopping. Not mall shopping with tons of people, no parking, grumpy clerks and stress… but local shopping with free and easy parking, cool stuff and friendly merchants.

In Guerneville, the Sonoma Nesting Company showcases home and garden furnishings they’ve collected from all over the world. Fans of our local shops will, as always, find the selection of gift items impossibly tempting (self-gifting is hard to resist). Don’t miss Memories, Wayne Skala’s Gifts, Hemp & Chocolate, River Mist, Up the River, and the fabulous Guerneville 5 & 10 for a nice blend of gift items, both naughty and nice.

Monte Rio’s temptations are of an edible type. Sophie’s Cellar has a wonderful selection of wine and local cheeses as well as special treats from some of our local bakers and confectioners. What better stocking stuffer than a split of champagne and a box of home-made chocolate truffles! Duncan’s Mills is the place for antiques, art and interesting treasures.

The grape harvest is finally over and our local wineries get into the spirit of the season with holiday celebrations, special prices and lots of fun. To see what wine events are happening during your stay check out for their calendar.

Where else can you cut down your own Christmas tree, sample yummy local wines and go for a walk on an ocean beach all in one afternoon? Local tree farms (some organic/sustainable) offer trees, wreaths and garlands. Local Farmer’s Markets offer the last of the season’s apples and winter veggies as well as local crafts and gifts. The annual Russian River Holiday Crafts Fair is December 15th in Guerneville.

If you feel lucky, try winning some spending money at Bingo. On December 8th the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are having their holiday Bingo. Money, prizes and more fun than is legally allowed in several counties in Texas.

Christmas at the River is special. It’s like being invited to spend the holiday with someone you met at a café. It’s local, real and unpretentious. All the local inns and resorts are decorated for the holiday. Many have special treats in store for their guests. Local restaurants have Holiday Dinners on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some, like Café les Jumelles in Monte Rio offer dinner to-go, just order by 12/18 pick it up on Christmas day and enjoy the holiday!

On Christmas Day the Russian River Resort hosts their 15th Annual Bartender Marathon, all bartender tips go to local charities ($13,000 was raised in 2006). Watch our home grown ‘celebrities’ try to mix drinks, encourage them to keep their ‘day’ jobs and help us raise money for the community.

New Year’s weekend promised to be one long party this year. There are still a few rooms and cabins available, but reservations are filling quickly. All of our local bars many of the restaurants are planning parties for the big night. Smart partyers are planning to stay over on the night of January 1st to allow for a relaxing New Year’s day. (think about it… do you really want to have to get up, pack and check out of your cozy room before noon? Not a chance!)

For those making classic New Year’s resolutions (eat less, exercise more and never, ever go partying with anyone whose idea of a good time is posting video of their friends’ overindulgences on YouTube) we can oblige you as well. Work out at ‘The Gym’ and remove all evidence of the home made cookies and fudge your innkeeper so thoughtlessly leaves lying around. Hike (or stroll) among the giant Redwood trees in Armstrong Woods State Preserve. There are easy and difficult hikes, all stunning. Head out to the ocean. There are a couple very excellent beach hikes and even if the weather is nasty it can be fun to watch the giant waves roll in.

For reservations and information go to