Travel Review: Lucky Bend Lookout Vacation Rental
This post may contain affiliate links. My stay at Lucky Bend Lookout was paid for by myself.
My memories of the Russian River are very limited and quite specific. I recall going as a child (maybe elementary school age) when my family decided to rent canoes to go down the river. Almost immediately, our canoe tips over and our cooler and all its contents are floating ahead. I have zero memories of what happened next, where we stayed or anything except for seeing one of our lone Pepsi cans at the bottom of the river further down.
Thankfully, I got a “re-do” of the Russian River with my family when we stayed at the Lucky Bend Lookout Vacation Rental. We were immediately mesmerized by the towering redwoods surrounding the property, the quaint town of Guerneville and the beautiful river flowing through. Although the water level was fairly low, we still had an incredible time.
When we went: October 2020
Ages of kids at time of travel: 7, 5 and 2
Where we stayed: Lucky Bend Lookout Vacation Rental, Guerneville, California
What To Expect
Located just outside of the Guerneville main street, Lucky Bend Lookout is located on a quiet, tree-lined road alongside the river. We pulled into town on a Sunday afternoon, dropped our stuff off in the house and immediately went to check out the river. The Mid-Century house is three bedrooms and one bath with a small kitchen and living area. Despite the small indoor space, the outdoor patio, lower level fire pit and the private dock is where you’ll be spending most of your time so don’t fret!
The house is on the darker side because it is under the tree canopy and doesn’t have many overhead lights. Instead, you’ll find lots of lamps to illuminate the space. We really only were in the bedrooms to sleep so the darkness actually did not bother us at all.
The outdoor patio off the dining room has chairs for adults and kids as well as a sturdy picnic tables. Down a flight of stairs on either side is a propane fit pit ample seating and two swings (one for toddlers, one for bigger kids). Even further down the pathway, you’ll find a ladder leading out to the private floating dock. With the water level being lower this time of year, and the dock being lower down, it was slightly challenging to get down with small kids but we took it slow and tried to maximize our time down at the water. If you are traveling with very young kids or have anyone with mobility issues, you may consider coming between June-September when the water level will make accessing the dock easier.
For anyone with younger kids, there is a travel crib, high chair and stroller to use as well as a nice bunk bed for slightly older kids. It was definitely a treat to not have to schlep our travel crib with us this time!
Things To Keep in Mind
We went outside of the high season which meant fewer crowds (yay!) but also less water and limited availability for dining. The lower water level did mean that there were more “beaches” and that was extremely helpful with three young kids who aren’t used to swimming in a river. The current was also very mild and we never had any concerns as the water was very shallow. Most of the shore will be quite rocky so appropriate footwear is recommended.
If you come in summer, expect more people on the river and the need to be proactive if you want to dine out or reserve a spot at somewhere like Johnson’s Beach. We’re hoping to visit next year in the high season to see the difference.
If you plan on doing any water sports, Lucky Bend Lookout provides two kayaks, one canoe and a stand-up paddle board for guests to use. They are locked up at the dock so you only need to bring down the paddles and life jackets. They also keep lots of other stuff in the garage for guests use like bicycles and helmets, beach chairs and some floaties.
As mentioned above, October was definitely a sleepier time in town and we felt that first-hand with several dining establishments not being open. We did, however, find a couple of great spots we would recommend:
- Guerneville Taco Truck – a non-descript food truck parked in the Safeway parking lot between 11am-8pm daily. The tacos were HUGE and the meat was really good quality. We did a taco tasting with pollo, carne asada and carnitas and, while they were all good, carnitas was the winner.
- Smart Pizza – We ordered two pizzas from here and they were both delicious.
- Koala’s Fine Food – I thought this was a market until I discovered it was sushi. We got bento boxes for dinner one night and everything was great!
- boon eat + drink – this menu looked incredible but we realized too late they were closed on Monday and Tuesday.
- Nimble & Finn’s – if you like ice cream, check this place out! They make all the flavors in-house and have all the basics and then some out of the box ones (lavendar honeycomb and whiskey butterscotch). They also sell whole pies.
There is also a Safeway in town that is well-stocked with all the essentials. We made breakfast and lunch at the cabin each day.
What Else To Do in the Area
The Russian River Valley is absolutely breathtaking and there is no shortage of things to do if you decide to venture away from the house. We did:
- Apple-a-Day / Ratzlaff Farm – we pre-booked a time slot to pick apples at this farm in Sebastopol.
- Horse & Plow – we pre-booked a table at this spot where we enjoyed wine, cider and snacks. They do welcome children assuming they are supervised by parents at all times. They even sell a kid’s snack pack for $15 which includes cheese, crackers, apple slices, juice and a bag of food to feed to the resident chickens.
- Sonoma Coast – just about a 20 minute drive west, you can be at the Pacific Ocean! Jenner Beach, Goat Rock Beach and several more just north and south offer plenty of options for some sea and sand.
- Korbel Winery – if you like sparkling wine, the Korbel Winery is less than 10 minutes away. Advance reservations are required for tastings but the on-site deli is open to walk-ins. As you head east, there is an abundance of options for other tastings but, please, be sure to check each winery’s website for their policies and booking procedures.
- Armstrong Redwood State Natural Preserve – unfortunately, currently closed to the LNU Lightning Complex Fires. If you plan to visit in 2021, be sure to check if this state preserve is open again.
What to Pack
This rental is very well-equipped so you can pack very little! We packed:
- Casual clothes (no need to dress-up) as well as comfy loungewear for the evenings
- A light jacket for morning or evenings
- Swimsuit (or two) depending on how frequently you’ll be in the water
- Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for being out on the river
- Water shoes (like this style) were key for both kids and adults as the shore is quite rocky
- Lifejackets (there is a good supply of them for kids and adults but we did bring our 2-in-1 lifejacket/rash guard along for the little guy)
- During COVID times, no food items are being provided so be sure to bring (or plan to buy) basic things like oil, condiments, etc.
- Water bottles to refill
Notes on COVID precautions in the Region
West Sonoma County was generally 100% mask compliant. It wasn’t too crowded this time of year so social distancing was a breeze, too. Even when we were in line (ex. Safeway, ice cream shop), plenty of distance and limits on the number of people inside at one time.
We did pre-book our apple picking and vineyard visit which seems to be the norm for most activities. As much of a burden it is to plan ahead, it did make for a nice experience with places not being too crowded.
Lucky Bend Lookout has fast, reliable Internet and we were able to work, have kids on their iPads and be streaming Netflix without any major issues.
The house is smaller so I would definitely recommend headphones if you will have multiple children on calls. For our work calls, we happily took them outside on the patio – and you can skip the Zoom background because the actual background is so picturesque!
How to Book
Book directly with the owner (Sarah) on her website. Mention Million Miler Mom for a discounted rate!