Fresh Dungeness Crab in Bodega, A Holiday Meal to Remember

Turkey, ham, and prime rib may be the meal that comes to mind around the holidays but San Franciscan’s and Northern California chefs know that the easiest way to have an amazingly memorable holiday feast is with dungeness crabs fresh off the boat. Dungeness crab season varies each year but generally runs from  November to June; just in time for Thanksgiving! While I have been scheming for a few years to get a crab pot and try my luck at kayak crab fishing, it just hasn’t worked out. That however, is to my kids benefit because our family traditon has evolved to making a family excursion out to the crab boats where the kids can pick out the fiestiest crabs right from the fishermen.

This year we turned our annual crab feast into a local food holiday get together. We headed up to Guerneville and invited the extended family to stay with us at the Lucky Bend Lookout vacation rental overlooking the Russian River. Between the Russian River Valley wineries, the western Sonoma bakeries, and Bodega commercial fishery we had fresh everything at our table. Read on for our guide on where to get every thing you need including our recipe for reliable steaming. Continue reading “Fresh Dungeness Crab in Bodega, A Holiday Meal to Remember”

Russian River Valley Wine Tasting by Bike Path, Take the Kids too!

Before kids, our favorite wine tasting adventure was to rent a tandem bike at Spoke Folk Cyclery (201 Center St, Healdsburg) in Healdsburg and ride out on West Dry Creek Road and return by East Dry Creek Road. We always started with the west side because the narrow road with no shoulder didn’t leave much room for our fellow wine tasters to drive their cars in the afternoon after a few wineries.

Wine tasting by bicycle is great but wine tasting by bike-path without worrying about fellow winetasters behind the wheel of cars is fantastic. This itinerary makes for a perfect family winetasting trip so bring the kids. Continue reading “Russian River Valley Wine Tasting by Bike Path, Take the Kids too!”

Gravenstein Apple Picking Adventure for the Whole Family

What if you could enjoy all the apple goodness of Apple Hill without all the people, traffic, and that drive up I-80? Only an hour from San Francisco and 20 minutes from Guerneville and the Russian River Resort Region lies the Gravenstein Apple region. Well before western Somoma County was a wine region of international repute, it was one of the world’s premier cider apple regions. The Gravenstein apple, an edible cider apple from Denmark, is the premier apple in the region for which highway 116 is named. Famed horticulturist, Luther Burbank praised the apple saying,

“It has often been said that if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year, no other apple need be grown.”

Continue reading “Gravenstein Apple Picking Adventure for the Whole Family”

Jenner Headlands Preserve Kids Loop

Thanks to very active nonprofits like The Wildlands Conservancy and the Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma County is constantly opening new public open space with robust trail systems and fantastic recreational opportunities. The newest park in the county can also lay claim to the best views. Overlooking the Rusaian River estuary and the rugged Sonoma Coast seastacks, Jenner Headlands Preserve just opened providing a range of trails suitable for the little ones all the way up to trail runners headed to the top of adjoining Pole Mountain Preserve. Dean, 5 years old, and Raylah, 7 years old, had a great time hiking thanks to a wide variety of activities that kept them entertained while mom and dad reveled in the panoramic views. Continue reading “Jenner Headlands Preserve Kids Loop”

Relive the Lazy Life Floating the Russian River with Kids, a Complete Guide

Remember those carefree days when you could spend a whole day lazily floating on the water with your friends, drinking beer, and debating the topics of the day. It seems like ages ago that our kids came along and ended that kind of carefee tranquility. But finally, at ages 5 and 7, we have regained some of that spirit (but in much shorter doses)! The Russian River near Guerneville is a perfect place to rekindle those relaxing tube floats on the river. Here is how to pull it off! Continue reading “Relive the Lazy Life Floating the Russian River with Kids, a Complete Guide”

3 Summer Cocktails for the Whole Family, even the Kids

When our family heads up to our home on the Russian River, Lucky Bend Lookout, our summer time rhythm is pretty active but we always make time to enjoy happy hour on the deck overlooking the river. A typical day starts with the kids “helping” grandpa make a fancy breakfast. After a morning activity like hiking in Armstrong Woods and lunch we invariably end up swimming off the dock and boats for most of the afternoon. Around 3pm or so the light breezes usually pickup to more of a steady breeze that is a bit too cold for little wet bodies but just right for happy hour while we soak up the warm sunshine on the deck. Read on for our three favorite batch cocktail recipes and how to use the same ingredients to make “kid cocktails.” Continue reading “3 Summer Cocktails for the Whole Family, even the Kids”

Fishing with Kids on the Russian River

We recently took the kids on a coho salmon hike organized by the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) at Samuel P Taylor State Park. Seeing those huge red and white fish in such a small creek got us that got us thinking about the steelhead run in the Russian River right now. Our vacation rental, Lucky Bend Lookout, is actually named after the famous fishing hole the “Lucky Bend” just west of Guerneville just down river from old Summer Crossing Road. Last week we were delighted to chat with several anglers in hip-waders casting through the light fog into the brisk waters right behind our house. One fellow had landed a 18″ steelhead. The kids were mesmerized and amazed that they spent the summers swimming in the same waters from which this huge fish had come.

Continue reading “Fishing with Kids on the Russian River”