Day Trip Along Russian River’s Highway 116

If you are in the need of a relaxing Fall day trip, then scoot on over to Highway 116 for a lovely drive through the Russian River valley. We took this trip a couple of weekends ago and it was just the thing to revitalize us after a stressful week of worrying about jobs and money.

We followed the excellent day trip guide in Via Magazine but really focused on the drive itself, ending with a fantastic sunset glass of wine at River’s End in Jenner.

First of all, this is quite a long haul for a day trip from Sacramento and therefore I recommend, especially if you are wine tasting, an overnight trip. But we did it in one day on the spur of the moment.

Take 101 north to 116 west. We drove along 116 passing loads of apple orchards, quaint towns and wineries – stopping briefly at Iron Horse Vineyard which unfortunately had closed by the time we got there. Undaunted, we made our way to Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve for a long walk around the giant trees – we were there later in the afternoon and it was pretty dark, so it was almost like a spooky ghost walk (there were plenty of other folks around). This is a great spot for day hikes with good trails for all levels.

Looking forward to watching the sunset, we continued our journey along 116 to Jenner, a gorgeous oceanside town with amazing views. The River’s End is a posh restaurant with a handful of private cabins you can rent for overnight accomodation. We opted for grabbing a drink at the bar and heading out to the restaurant’s wooden deck where we pulled up a couple of plastic chairs and watched the stunning “blink and you’ll miss it” sunset. One thing I noticed is that if you eat in the restaurant and have a window table, people on the deck will stand or sit in front of the window and obstruct your ocean view… so keep that in mind when booking your romantic dinner reservations. (wine: Chardonnay, Balletto Vineyards)

On the return home we stopped in Sebastapol at the Pesto Café for dinner. Both of us loved our meals – me: spinach ravioli in pesto cream sauce with pine nuts (I practically licked the plate); him: French style burger with homemade crisps (he loved it). I’m not sure it’s the kind of restaurant you want to go for ambience, but the food was delish and appropriately smaller portioned.

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