The best of California intersects 55 miles north of San Francisco in the vibrant Santa Rosa: vineyards, countryside, redwoods, rivers, lakes and coastline. Rent bikes for the whole family, head up in a helicopter or set out on foot; either way you’ll experience beauty. Think rolling grassy hills, immense petrified forests, rocky bluffs, tree-lined ravines, deep blue lakes, ripe apple orchards and pristine golf courses. And if you don’t leave the city, there are 57 parks to picnic, sail and play in!
The best entertainment in Northern California Wine Country is dining out. Start at the California Welcome Center for free tasting coupons and info on the regions 200 wineries. Overwhelmed by the options? Try the new Vintners’ Square, an urban winery village with a collection of boutique wineries and tasting rooms. Once you’ve swirled and sipped enough to buy a few bottles of your favorite, it’ll be easy to find something to pair it with. Santa Rosa has everything from French to Indian to comfort-food to Thai to Italian. You’ll quickly understand why passionate foodies select this as their vacation destination of choice, and often their home. Make eating local a point by stopping by a farmer’s market. Olive oil, honey, lavender, peaches, apples, pumpkins, pears, blueberries, tomatoes and cherries should make it onto your shopping list. If you like what you taste, research the timing of exquisite culinary events such as Taste of Sonoma and the Kendall Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival.
You could easily spend all day with a glass and fork in hand, but try to work up an appetite first. Engage in agri-tourism by beekeeping. Take a Jeep tour of Safari West’s 400 acres of more than 400 exotic animals and birds. Learn the story of the artist behind Charlie Brown at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Close your eyes and focus in on the passionate strums floating from the Santa Rosa Symphony. Ice skate at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena. Relax for a day at the spa. Or play a variety of slot machines at Twin Pine Casino. Regardless of what you do and eat, you’ll leave Santa Rosa will a camera full of pictures, a suitcase full of wine and a memory full of new recipe ideas.