Golf legend Arnold Palmer, known in the cleated world as the King and winner of the PGA Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, designed the undulating ryegrass fairways at Hiddenbrooke Golf Club. Ranked as one of Golf Digest’s Readers’ Choice Top 50 Public Courses in 2009, the course unfolds scenic views of rolling hills as players give their balls detailed directions, hand them compasses and trail mix, and send them hiking toward the pin. The 12th hole’s pin challenges orbs with one of the toughest locations on the course, and eight sand bunkers guard three sides of the 18th hole’s green. After working up a sweat, swingers can remove their gloves and Kevlar vests and celebrate or commiserate their score at The Grille, where diners gaze out over the greens while munching sandwiches and quaffing beer.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-72 course * Length of 6,678 yards * Course rating of 72.8 * Slope rating of 142 * 25 hitting stations at driving range * See helpful course map and notes
Napa Valley is California's epicenter of wine, and there's a definite local pride in all things grape. Signs posted along roads urge drivers to stop, taste, and experience private-label wines. The culinary scene has also risen to prominence, with chefs like Thomas Keller spearheading a haute-cuisine movement. Though hundreds of thousands of people visit each year, Napa still cultivates a small-town feel. There are a handful of big-name restaurants in downtown Napa that might have limos parked out front, but there are still plenty of eclectic, hole-in-the wall eateries serving vegan fare or barbecue.
Wind tousles the broad leaves of vines above clusters of grapes the off-black blue of the dusk sky. Frank and Liz Vez?r, owners of Vez?r Family Vineyard, originally began growing the fruit to help fill the needs of wine producers including Ravenswood and Sin Zin. More than a decade ago, they also began producing their own wines. ?One could call it beginner?s luck,? says Touring and Tasting Magazine, ?but their award-winning streak has yet to be broken. Every single wine Vez?r has produced has won a top award or superior rating. Of most recent note, the 2007 Vez?r Cabernet Sauvignon won double gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and a whopping 97 points at a blind tasting at Napa?s Bay Leaf Restaurant.?
The winery adjoins the original Pony Express offices, and one can still almost hear the sound of plodding hooves and hooves frustratedly trying to apply stamps. On a copper-roofed cupola, an equine weathervane twists to face the winds above a sweeping swath of grass that fills with chatter during weddings and other events.
The 22 acres of Morton's Warm Springs sprawls across meadows, clusters of towering oaks, and rugged rock formations surrounding a bubbling creek, immersing visitors in outdoor recreation since 1946. The site originally served as a camp for the Wappo Native Americans, who believed its mineral waters were sacred and imbued with healing properties. Today, visitors splash through these same waters in two natural pools fed by geothermal springs. Guests can also play on baseball, basketball, and sand or hard volleyball courts, and stroll along natural paths meandering beside the creek. Throughout the park, 20 indoor or outdoor picnic sites house revelers during weddings, family reunions, and school events, and many are equipped with brick or stone grills for cooking, running water for washing, and electricity for recharging robot uncles.
Ramekins offers cooking classes from award-winning chefs in a beautiful, European-style villa in the heart of wine country. During each three-hour cooking class, up to 12 fledgling gourmands prepare and eat a multicourse meal under the careful tutelage of a crack team of expert chefs using essential culinary techniques, such as meat seasoning, soup simmering, and chopping thrown tomatoes cleanly in twain.
Maxwell Fun Center gathers families together for hours of memory-making fun on a picturesque 18-hole course. The miniature greens evoke a sense of local pride, featuring shrink-rayed townsfolk bustling amid lifelike replicas of Sonoma's historical mission and city hall. Though today's Groupon is only valid for golfing, putters can celebrate a successful outing with a tasty ice cream at Maxwell Fun Center's snack bar or regain lost mojo after an astronomically high stroke count by heading to the nearby arcade to play skee-ball and air hockey or flirt outrageously with Ms. Pac-Man.