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An easy day trip in Duncans Mills

Seemingly suspended in time, the rustic former logging village of Duncans Mills, along Highway 116 four miles inland from Jenner, is a slow stop off the fast lane for anyone looking for an easy day trip or weekend hideaway.

Set aside a lazy morning or afternoon to troll the cluster of old-timey wooden shops for gifts, art and antique treasures.

Near the courtyard gazebo is Jim & Willie's, a nook of intriguing ephemera assembled by Jim Raidl, an inveterate collector who shares the space with his cute-as-a-button Bichon Frise dog, Willie.

Antiquarian/Florabunda intersperses flowers and plants with antiques and collectibles. Pick up an heirloom teapot at Mr. Trombly's Tea, liquid-metal jewelry at Studio Nouveau, handcrafts at Pig Alley and jelly beans and saltwater taffy at Sweets 'n Stuff.

The town also features several art galleries, including Christopher Queen, specializing in contemporary and early California works.

For an early Sunday supper, secure a seat at The Blue Heron for live music, dancing and oyster barbecue from 1 to 4 p.m. Come early because the oysters go fast.

Cape Fear Cafe offers a bit more refined bites of seafood and California cuisine and it's open for all meals. Get your goodies at the Gold Coast Bakery and Cafe, which now has a wood-fired pizza oven.

Take a moment to peek through the windows of the Depot Museum to see what an old train stop looked like — and then explore the historic wooden railroad cars.

And don't forget that every summer, Duncans Mills proudly hosts the professional Russian River Rodeo.

Want to spend the night? Call ahead to reserve a room at the thoroughly unplugged Inn at Duncans Mills (865-1855) or book a vacation rental for $150 a night and up through Higgins Property Service, 865-2032. Got kids? Bring them along to the riverside Casini Ranch Family Campground (800) 451-8400.


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