Healdsburg Golf Club carves through Wine Country, loping over undulating terrain marked by mature fir trees and views of Dry Creek Valley. Before taking the course, limber up on the all-weather driving range, with 18 stalls spread over three tiers that allow golfers to smack 300-yard drives or attempt to sink a two-story practice putt. The nine-hole course wraps well-manicured fairways around doglegs and surrounds greens with an entourage of bunkers and rolling mounds. Though suited for beginners, the course is a test for players of abilities, challenging golfers to hit a variety of shots, from long drives down par 5s to bicycle kicks past the goalkeeper on the eighth green. Golfers can relax after their rounds with a relaxing meal at the club’s bar and outdoor patio. The elevated patio overlooks the course as it fades into a sea of trees, misty mountains lining the horizon, and a wormhole leading to a secret nine-hole course on the moon.
Course at a Glance
The spider-like staffers at Vertex Climbing Center support customers of all climbing abilities as they scale a variety of faux rock faces. During ClimbTime classes, experienced instructors belay and handle equipment while climbers focus on mastering walls and top-of-the-mountain yodeling routines. A collection of 35-foot walls jut skyward at varying difficulties, from steeply inclined slabs to fully inverted overhangs. Following supervised climbing lessons, patrons can move on to more advanced classes or take a belay test that qualifies them to guide friends indoors and brag to retired sailors about knot-tying superiority.
The independently owned Roxy Stadium 11 regales patrons with the flickering pictures and digital sounds of the latest blockbusters and the sizable snack bar. A colorful lobby greets guests as they meander past towering pillars that stretch toward an arched ceiling swathed in neon lights and bold swaths of royal blue. Aisles of cushioned auditorium seats allow moviegoers to choose the spot closest to the screen or furthest from the person sobbing emphatically during coming attractions. High-tech projectors digitally unspool films in each theater, with RealD 3-D technology transmitting some flicks in three vibrant dimensions. To silence distracting mid-movie hunger pangs, staffers in the concessions area whip up fresh batches of Orville Redenbacher popcorn and Nathan's hot dogs alongside other traditional theater fare.
More than 2 miles above the Russian River, a skydiver jumps from a plane, quickly accelerating to racecar speeds of 120 mph before a canopy opens above and glides the diver to earth amid views of neighboring clear waters, sprawling vineyards, and the San Francisco skyline. Located in the heart of wine country, NorCal Skydiving's professional staffers make it their mission to pass on these thrills to each customer regardless of skill level or ability to fly his or her own plane. During tandem jumps, experienced instructors and novice divers conjoin and jump together from a plane 13,000 feet in the air. Once students are hooked, instructors can coach them on advanced techniques, such as canopy flight, and then help them become licensed skydivers. Additionally, NorCal Skydiving's staff regularly parajumps into the U.S. Parachute Association to work as safety and training advisors.
Sonoma Helicopter's fleet of choppers hardly ever stops spinning as they lead training, photography, and tour flights throughout the Sonoma Valley and wine country year round. Their thorough training program pairs classroom and flight sessions to produce pilots capable of taming wild helicopters, and the mountain-flying school further specializes chopper jockeys. Aside from aerial surveys that delve into animal populations, power-line patrols, and crop pollinations, the staff also takes to the air to give guests a bird's-eye view of Sonoma.
A restored Queen Anne structure in Sonoma wine country, Grape Leaf Inn won NBC11's award for best area bed and breakfast for two consecutive years. Six available guestrooms await visitors, each equipped with a king or queen bed. A bottle of old-vine zinfandel (a $37.50 value), recently liberated from its oaken prison, regales sippers with tales of life on the inside. Downstairs, the speakeasy offers complimentary vine-blood samplings that awaken the unexplainable urge for more, as well as an intimate setting for romantic paper-football games. Excellent breakfasts of local produce and freshly roasted coffee also await visitors. Wineries available for tastings vary based on date of stay.
River's Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips' owner Lollie Mercer likes to joke about being in the business of curing nature-deficiency disorder. It's certainly true that sunlight and exercise provide the body with a whole host of benefits, and Lollie's customers get plenty of those riding the rapids of the Russian River. She and her staff outfit guests with one of six types of boats, which include styles that range from the classic canoe to double kayaks. Self-guided groups embark on three- to six-hour trips where they navigate Class I and II rapids. When the water calms, they can view the abundant wildlife along the river's banks, including osprey, eagles, otters, and turtles. Eventually, groups land at River's Edge Beach, where Lollie and her crew collect gear and guests reunite with their less-awesome land-based vehicles.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.