Since opening to the public in 1926, Benbow Inn has entertained Hollywood elite, foreign dignitaries, and traveling motorists alike with a wealth of both outdoor and indoor pursuits, nestled amid the towering redwoods that share the banks of the Eel River. Early on, the Inn’s prime spot near the Avenue of the Giants made it a popular stopover for tourists traveling up the coast or searching for a more impressive Christmas tree. The sprawling complex’s tranquil gardens and majestic mountain setting provide an ideal respite from the road for weary travelers. Though the hotel’s long-held commitment to upkeep and service has earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places and a four-diamond rating from AAA, its real treasures lie outside its Tudor walls. Visitors while away the time with such activities as swimming and boating on the river, perfecting pitches on the 9-hole Benbow Valley Golf Course, or hiking through the redwoods of the Kings Range while longing for prehensile tales from which to swing.
In addition to hotel rooms and cottages, Benbow Inn hosts campers on more than 100 pull-through and back-in sites at its RV Resort, which won the Best of The West Award in 2004. Here, travelers enjoy the peace and quiet of their spot in the woods, which balances the rusticity of the outdoors with such creature comforts as cement patios, picnic tables, and full hookups, including cable TV.
Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 35 course * Total length of 2,674 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 66.3 from the back tees * Course slope of 115 from the back tees * Three sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
Water flowing uphill, people appearing to grow and shrink at a moment's notice, balls that roll away inexplicably rolling back?this is all just par for the course at Confusion Hill's main attraction, Gravity House. Back in 1949, founder George Hudson was searching for someplace like the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, where the laws of nature did not always apply, and he found it here, deep in the redwoods. Outside the Gravity House, a metal rod sporadically shows magnetic properties; further into the forest you might catch sight of the hill's mascot, a chipmunk-antelope hybrid called a chipalope. Guests can also catch a train ride into the forest to admire the old growth trees and see historical logging equipment. At the gift shop, visitors procure redwood souvenirs crafted by hand rather than chipalope teeth, and can stock their picnic baskets for a meal in the open air.
NorCal Trail Rides’ wise guides lead horseback explorers of all skill levels on safe and comfortable excursions through the Northern California countryside. Before embarking on 60-minute trail rides, guides supply riders with the tack, helmets, and water necessary for the trip, and then pair them up with one of the stable's horses. The group then sets out for a relaxing jaunt by the Sacramento River, where they can feast their eyes on local wildlife while gulping down local fresh air. NorCal Trail Rides leads excursions every day of the year, but potential rein operators should call ahead for a reservation, as times can change depending on the season and forecasts for bad weather or alien invasion.
Today, it's undeniable: Jazzercise is a worldwide empire, spanning more than 1,800 locations and 32,000 weekly classes across the globe. It's also hip; gone are the leotards and legwarmers of the 1980s, replaced with a high-intensity blend of cardio, strength training, kickboxing and power yoga performed to hits by chart-toppers from Shakira to Justin Timberlake. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set, with recent additions such as Fusion, Core, and Strike broadening the workouts' variety and application. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background. This sense of community keeps Jazzercise devotees coming back, but so too do the results; benefits ranging from weight loss and boosted core strength to increased flexibility and stress relief.
Jazzercise's continued success can be traced to the innovation of its founder, Judi Sheppard Missett. While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, she decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. Little did she know that this ?just for fun? class was the prototype for what would become the Jazzercise sensation.
Shasta Glide 'n Ride's tour guides time their running commentary, broadcast through headsets, to the whir of Segway wheels propelling patrons through scenic stretches of the paved Sacramento River Trail. First, riders hone Segway skills during a brief session that includes hands-on training, an instructional video, and tips on how to garner the best mechanical performance by impersonating a mother robot. With new Segway knowledge in hand, tours embark from the parking lot at Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Roadsters obediently bend to their riders’ whims as they zoom across the nearby Sundial Bridge and through sunning flocks of wildlife to the tune of tales about the Gold Rush and Old West. Available cooling vests enable comfortable treks, even on days with 100-degree temperatures or hot-cocoa downpours, and modern technology allows Segways to slice through fog or light rain. Patrons can also design their own tours atop rental bikes and pedal through local flora and fauna for hours at a time.
Sprawling across 300 acres, Turtle Bay Exploration Park has all the space it needs to showcase Northern California's ecosystems as well as the history of its people. Located in Redding, which was named one of the top affordable summer driving destinations by CBS News, this celebration of nature, anthropology, and art starts in the McConnell Arboretum. Its gardens use 200 acres to form a living map of the five major Mediterranean climate zones: Chile, South Africa, Australia, the Mediterranean basin, and California. In addition to providing picturesque views, these gardens use water-wise methods to emphasize the importance of sustainability. * Paul Bunyan?s Forest Camp displays artifacts and photographs from early lumber camps while also teaching visitors about the local birds and reptiles that continue to thrive in the nearby forests. * The Turtle Bay Museum helps visitors explore the region's animal life or general scientific topics through rotating exhibits along with a 22,000 square foot aquarium. * The Sundial Bridge features sweeping, 217-foot pylon that supports the bridge's elegant design while minimizing its environmental impact on the river below. * Buster Simpson's The Monolith is an installation built inside the ruins of the Kutras Aggregate Plant, which provided the gravel used to create the concrete for Shasta Dam.