Russian River Fun at Johnson's Beach
When the temperature rises, it's fun to head to a local beach and cool off. Bay Area residents have been doing this for nearly 100 years Johnson's Beach, a laid-back, family-friendly summertime getaway on the banks of the Russian River in Guerneville. There's nothing quite like lounging in an inner tube on the river on a warm summer day with redwoods towering overhead!
Johnson's is a privately owned beach that's open to the public. Admission is free, although there's a $7 parking fee, so pack up your beach gear and folding chairs and get ready for a lazy riverside day. The pebble beach stretches down to the river where you'll find a roped-off kiddie pool area where the little ones can splash and play. The river itself is cool, not very deep, and ideal for swimming, splashing, and floating around in an inner tube.
Beach umbrellas are available for rent, as are inner tubes and watercraft like canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats ($20 per hour or $50 for all day). A cute beachside snack bar offers traditional treats like burgers, hot dogs, ice cream, and soft drinks. Grownups can purchase cold beer at the boathouse.
Johnson's Beach, a family-owned affair for decades, has underwent a change of ownership a few years ago. The new owners bought it precisely for its old school charm, so they're making improvements while keeping the tradition and fun going! It's a great place to spend the day after a mini road trip up to the river. While you're in Guerneville, make sure you visit nearby Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve to see some amazing big trees without the crowds.
For more information about Johnson's Beach, visit www.johnsonsbeach.com or call (707) 869-2022.
If You Go
Johnson's Beach is currently open weekends from May 19–June 16 from 11 am to 6 pm. Starting June 16 to September 7, Johnson's Beach will be open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. It's located in Guerneville off Church Street, and it's about a hour drive from Marin. Admission is free, but there's a $7 per car parking fee. Johnson's Beach will be closed on June 9 and 10 and September 8 and 9 due to a special event.
To get there, head north on 101 into Sonoma County. You can either split off onto Hwy 116 west in Cotati or continue north on 101 through Santa Rosa. If you go the first route take Hwy 116 (Gravenstein Highway) through Sebastopol and Forestville to Guerneville. Go over the Russian River and take a left onto River Road into Guerneville, then turn left onto Church Street and follow it to the Beach.
If you go through Santa Rosa, take 101 north through Santa Rosa. Take the River Road/Mark West Springs Road exit and head west on River Road to Guerneville. Once in Guerneville, make a left turn onto Church Street as above.
Alcohol, BBQs, pets, and canopies or umbrellas are not allowed. Food is available for purchase on-site, and umbrellas, boats, and inner tubes are available for rent. Johnson's Beach also offers lodging in cabins, a rental lodge, and a campground adjacent to the beach.