Sonoma County is gorgeous year-round, but spring is particularly pretty, inviting locals and visitors to explore the green-golden outdoors even more. There are so many beautiful places to hike, bike and beach, plus numerous parks welcoming you for a picnic.
Stretch your wings a bit, and try these adventures, too:
Go wild, and enjoy a beastly great time by taking an open-air safari vehicle along this 400-acre wildlife preserve. You’ll catch sight of an astonishing 1,000 animals environmentally respectful tour, including giraffes, lemurs, cheetahs, and wildebeests.
And it gets even better — you can enjoy a South African meal at the on-site Savannah Café and stay overnight in one of their luxurious glamping tents complete with hardwood floors and private viewing decks.
Many of us have dreamed about soaring in a hot air balloon over Sonoma Wine Country, and really, what better way is there to take in a birds-eye view of gardens, rolling hills, forested mountains and vineyards thriving in emerald green grape leaves? Seen from above, it’s remarkable how huge Sonoma County looks from the sky. Vineyards that already seem large from the ground are lattice works of intricate trellising, rolling across hills and Valley. Sheep, cows, goats, horses, llamas and even the occasional bison or llama look like toys.
The sun dapples across lakes, creeks winds like ribbons through the landscape, and old barns dot the fields. The flight can stretch up to four fabulous hours, finished off with a champagne toast.
Chanslor Ranch, Bodega Bay
The hillsides and redwood forests bring gorgeous Pacific Ocean views, made even finer on horseback. When you see the big, gentle eyes of the noble steeds, you know the creatures are well loved, living on their 378-acre scenic ocean view ranch. Combine happy animals with stunning open range, vistas, cliffs and beaches, and you’re in for a one-of-a-kind encounter.
There are ocean view, trail, and dazzling sunset rides, all as relaxing or exhilarating as your experience level allows.
Sonoma Canopy Tours, Occidental
Capture the moment after your zip line instructor straps you into the specially designed harness and Go Camera you’ll wear for this high-speed scream through space. That’s because your eyes may be closed the first time you traverse this zip line course winging you up to 25 miles per hour through a redwood forest, over a ravine 300-feet below, and along a creek.
But soon, you’ll be smitten by the fun and ogling the views. Part of the challenge is just getting to the jump canopies, since eleven different platforms test your clambering skills, too, daring you to scale a skinny spiral staircase 30 feet up, and wobble across a 175-foot-long sky bridge.
Many itineraries are available, but deep vineyard love, the ride through the town of Healdsburg and along Dry Creek Valley is unparalleled.
Your guide leads you on a picturesque 15-20 mile ride over gentle terrain, stopping for a picnic lunch at the winery of your choice. Your Trek hybrid style bike is built for comfort, and you go as fast or slow as you choose.
Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail, Bodega Bay
Even though this paved trail runs along the salt marsh that’s home to wildlife and thousands of birds throughout the year, rowdy kids and leashed dogs are welcome. Give the kids binoculars and see which animals they can spy with their little eyes.
The path is easy, looping one mile through Doran Beach Regional Park and Bird Walk Coastal Access Park along Doran Park Marsh and tidal channels, over a new 110' bridge that spans Cheney Creek, and connects to the Bird Walk Park up on the levees. To access the trail, park at a 10-car space parking lot off Highway 1 at the south end of town (between Smith Brothers Road and Doran Park Road), or enter through Doran Regional Park at the north end of town.
Owner Suki Waters is a local Native American descendant, guide, and kayak instructor, specializing in wildlife, Sonoma history, and ecology tours. From beginner boaters to skilled sports enthusiasts, there’s an adventure for all, staged along the amazing coast. Explore the quiet estuary or tackle the dancing sea, and keep your eyes peeled for area residents like sea lions, harbor seals, otters, birds, and maybe even a whale.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.