We took the kids “camping” a couple of weeks ago and since it was our first experience, I wanted to give you guys the details. TBH, I should say “glamping” because this definitely wasn’t true camping.
To back things up a bit, I grew up camping and loved it. Paul hadn’t as much but it was always something we wanted to try and the kids seemed excited about it. I wanted to wait until the kids were at least old enough to enjoy the full experience and not be total safety hazards, and this age felt right (2.5 and 5).
When Autocamp reached out, it seemed like the perfect way to dip our toes into camping. I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of camping in a tent with the kids and honestly wasn’t sure if Paul would survive real camping (LOL), so glamping felt more our speed.
I’ve listed all the details below & in this IG highlight. Let me know if you have any other specific questions or things I left out. Autocamp has given my followers 20% off with this link if you want to book one of their locations!
+ We stayed at the Russian River Autocamp in Guerneville, CA. It’s about an hour north of SF. We stayed in the Redwood Suite for three days, three nights.
+ We flew into Santa Rosa, then rented cars to drive to Guerneville (it was about 20 minutes and easy).
+ We stopped at the grocery for snacks, water, alcohol, and easy dinners. Think rotisserie chicken, hot dogs, eggs, bag salads, lots of fruit and veggies, then snack food. We had to either cook everything over the fire or microwave, so we had to get creative, but overall it was pretty easy.
WHAT WENT WELL
The kids thrived! We went with friends, which I highly suggest, and all four of the kids loved every minute. I think all the adults went in knowing camping wasn’t the easiest experience for parents, but we knew it’d be worth it for the kids, and it was.
The amenities. To me, an easy shower / bath situation for the family is a must so it was a luxury to have these. There were nice bathrooms in each airstream and then a general bathroom / shower area in the clubhouse. There was a TV in the camper which was nice to sit the kids in front of when we needed a break or to get ready – again, a time when the whole glamping thing was nice vs. actual camping. They also had easy DIY fire starter kits, smores kits, and other fun touches that made “camping” easier. There were other on-site things like a playground, fire pits, and an eating area / clubhouse which we used several times. Lastly, the Redwood Suite came with its own wood-fired hot tub…which I now need for my yard! Overall, this place is set up well for families or people who want the experience of camping but not ALL the work.
Having things to do outside the campsite. We did at least one activity outside the campgrounds each day which was crucial. While the campground had lots to do, we were all happy to explore things outside the grounds as well. For this specific trip and for anyone looking to book Russian River, here’s what we did:
+ Hiked @ Armstrong Redwoods. This place is huge and has a ton of options in terms of hiking trails and ease. Everything we saw here was GORGEOUS and so peaceful – a highlight of the trip, for sure. We even saw baby deer. The kids were able to run around freely and explore, which was necessary after being cooped up in the camper all night.
+ We went to Sunset Beach River Park and hung out there all afternoon which was pretty. Heads up the water was already freezing in early October, though the kids didn’t seem to mind. It wasn’t crowded but we were there during the week, so that probably helped. Water shoes were a must for the kids since it’s all rocks (we didn’t see any sand). I’d also recommend bringing snacks, a cooler, comfy blankets, etc if possible since there aren’t any food options there. The kids literally spent hours happily throwing rocks, swimming, and exploring nature. We didn’t bring a single activity to occupy them.
+ Wine tasting at Russian River Vineyards. Our friends knew a babysitter up north which was incredible because it meant we could escape for a little adult time. I normally wouldn’t trust a random person when traveling, so this felt like a luxury. We spent one afternoon at this winery which was cute & the food was pretty good!
+ With the kids, the memorable places we ate at were Boone and ice cream at Guerneville Bank Club. I will say, the town of Guerneville didn’t have the most restaurant / food options but obviously, you’re camping and probably not eating out too much. It wasn’t a problem for us.
WHAT WE LEARNED FOR NEXT TIME
First up, we definitely want to do it again! I think the Autocamp situation is perfect and next on our list is their Yosemite location.
Driving would be easier. The weather was a lot colder / wetter than anticipated so we didn’t have the right clothes and ended up at a laundry mat a couple of days in. In general, flying to go camping was hard because we couldn’t pack things that would have made the stay easier, like a portable stove, warmer clothes, more clothes for the kids since they got so dirty each day, coolers, food, etc.
The airstreams were really cute, clean, and comfortable. I will say, fitting 4 of us in one was a little cozy but we made it work. There was a pull-out bed and a bedroom in the back and Paul and I took one kid each night. Our friends had an Airstream and one tent for their family of four because they still had one kid in a crib, which was too tight in one Airstream. Our family was fine in one camper for the short trip, though. The tents were a vibe (so cute!) but cold at night – it looks like they only keep them up seasonally, so note that if you’re looking to book.