Grapes hang heavy from the vines on trellises scattered across 20 acres of the rolling Lincoln Hills. The fruit, tended by Wise Villa Winery's oenophiles, yield awards, including a prestigious honor from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Owner and winemaker Dr. Grover Lee draws on viticulture training while producing single-variety and blended wines or doing the crossword in the Grapes Aficionado Quarterly. Within the winery, the tasting room fills with the sound of clinking glasses as patrons sample various award winners, such as the Blanc de Noir pinot noir, a wine with notes of strawberries and watermelon. The winery also arranges frequent events, including live music on Sundays, grape-stomping parties, and reservation-only pairing dinners at its bistro.
Completed in 1911, the Woodland Branch is a 16-mile stretch of railway that connects West Sacramento with Woodland, California. At the branch's peak, passenger trains were running eight times a day, nine times on leap-days, but it all came to an end in 1940 with the start of World War II. The tracks were still used for freight, but it would be more than 60 years before passengers began using the railway again with any frequency. When the scenic stretch of rail was absorbed by the Sierra Railroad Company in 2003, it wasn't long before it took the name Sacramento RiverTrain and began running luxury coaches complete with rattan furniture, wood paneling, and state-of-the-art sound systems. Today, passengers board these trains to savor Sunday brunch, murder-mystery dinners, and other events while train tracks softly clack in the background.
Every October, the quiet vegetables fields at Bastiao Farms come alive with the laughter and shrieks of the annual Halloween festival. On one side of the grounds, a motor-powered train makes its way through the haunted corn maze, a massive, growing labyrinth supplemented by three additional corn and hay-bale mazes plus a Halloween-themed pumpkin patch. In other areas of the grounds, children and adults alike can navigate historically engaging sights that include a one-room schoolhouse and a scaled-down Wild West town featuring wooden saloons, storefronts, inns, and a covered wagon that secretly dreams of becoming a hardtop.
Fright Planet Haunted Theme Park's outdoor theme park acts as a library of the world's most potent phobias. Every year, cast members reimagine its catalog of haunted environs, crafting new sets, props, and characters to prey on guests. Its dedication to genuine scares calls for only the best actors and the most grisly scenery, which is constructed with the help of a former Disneyland artist and a bulldozer possessed by the soul of a 1700s architect.
The 2013 lineup has expanded to include 10 attractions, including the ScreamMax 3-D movie theater. Though the houses all have distinct themes and decor, they share two factors: a richly painted backstory and a population of live, ghoulish denizens. Staring toys line the shelves at Höbart's Doll Factory, tight passageways put the squeeze on those brave enough to enter Jatinga: The Forbidden Temple, and cornstalks bear bloodstains on Podunk Farms. Other experiences play on claustrophobic fears—for example, Buried Alive: The Ride shuts patrons into a coffin where they endure a simulated hearse ride, burial, and the chilling sound of worms calling dibs on their body parts.
Everything changed for Bob and Chris Quinlan when they organized a successful pub crawl for their local Rotary club in 2005. The positive reception to their event led the pair to found AppeteasersUSA in 2011, which has since expanded from its initial tour in Folsom to include outings in Northern and Southern California, Washington, and Florida. Across the country, AppeteasersUSA’s savvy guides can be found leading patrons from culinary hot spot to hot spot.
Throughout the four-hour tours, herds of at least 25 tour goers stop at restaurants and bars unique to the area—eschewing chains and large franchises—for 30-minute stints, nibbling on appetizers and noting which kitchen appliances might come to life after the restaurant closes. To wash down savory flavors, patrons can swig discounted drinks at each establishment.
Crepes in San Francisco. Butter chicken in Toronto. The organizers behind Dishcrawl connect people with the local dining scenes of cities across the United States and Canada. They do this in two ways—first, through Dishcrawls, which are self-guided tours to an array of restaurants. Dishcrawl's second method highlights single restaurants through special dinners, giving chefs a chance to dazzle visits with their favourite dishes.