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Jenner, California, Weekender

Find seals, birds, and gorgeous views at the mouth of California's Russian River. 

  • Jenner hillside, California, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Stepheng3/Wikipedia
    Photo caption
    The view from Whale Point finds Jenner perched on the bluffs.
  • People on the deck at River’s End Restaurant watching the sunset in Jenner, California, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: David H. Collier
    Photo caption
    From the outdoor deck at River’s End Restaurant, you can watch the sun slip below the horizon.

Perched on the Sonoma coast where the Russian River empties into the Pacific, Jenner offers a ringside seat for a wildlife extravaganza starring river otters, harbor seals, great blue herons, and ospreys. You can contemplate the watery vistas while paddling in a kayak, standing on beaches and bluffs, or dining in a restaurant. It’s quite a show.

  • Gaze at the Russian River at Cafe Aquatica, a cozy coffeehouse that dishes up freshly baked apple scones and focaccia, as well as creamy chowder crowded with clams and organic veggies. 
  • Inside the old Jenner Boathouse, the Sonoma Coast State Park Visitors Center includes an education center and a bookshop, with puzzles, trail maps, and exhibits for kids on river ecology. 10439 Hwy. 1, (707) 865-9757.
  • Take a guided kayak outing with WaterTreks EcoTours and learn about the flora, fauna, and American Indian history of mid-river Penny Island. 
  • Fly kites over craggy sea stacks or watch a colony of harbor seals at easily accessible Goat Rock Beach, one in a 17-mile strip of beaches and bluffs comprising Sonoma Coast State Park. Linked bluff trails go on for miles.
  • Smoked trout chowder, grilled salmon wings, and seafood fettucine are just a few of the offerings at Coast Kitchen inside Timber Cove Inn. Dine on the outdoor patio or indoors, where the river rock hearth and floor-to-ceiling windows face the untamed ocean. 
  • Just north of the village proper on a ridge with dynamic views, you can sample complex, estate-grown pinot noirs, zesty chardonnays, and the lush pinotage at Fort Ross Vineyard Tasting Room
  • Indulge in a sunset feast at the intimate River’s End Restaurant, overlooking the river’s mouth and endless beaches. Pair a Russian River gewürztraminer with local oysters and wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe), followed by Petaluma duck fixed two ways.

This article was first published in September 2013 and updated in March 2019. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.