Owned and operated by its guides, Runoff River Adventures has attracted some of the best river navigators in the business. Each guide has personally traversed more than 200 rivers, whose collective currents criss-cross countries across the world. The aquatic experts wield this experience as they guide kayaking and rafting expeditions down courses that can pass through roiling rapids or stick to calmer areas, such as goldfish bowls. Instructors also helm paddling and rafting courses, which focus on oar work and the art of the lake roll and river roll. Once they have mastered the basics, adventurers can confidently sally forth for self-guided tours in inflatable or non-inflatable kayaks, rafts, and innertubes that function as both flotation devices and very large headbands.
Las Flores Family Winery produces fine, handcrafted wine from local grapes. Two chums can enjoy a tasting tour (a $5 value per person) of the small boutique winery. Use the complimentary glass to taste the 2007 syrah ($16), whose liquid character sparkles with the honorable tastes of peppery spice, vanilla, and darkish berries, pairing perfectly with beef, lamb, veal, or hard cheese. The One Night Stand—a blend of merlot, tempranillo, syrah, and cabernet sauvignon ($20)—takes its name from the winery owners’ bedroom, which only has one nightstand. A superb all-purpose table wine, it features flavors of cherry, black pepper, and oak. Tongues will gladly wrap themselves around the light and fruity 2008 chardonnay ($17).
In the warmer months, the runoff from the snowmelt on Mount Whitney combines with the flow of Kern River, creating a series of rapids that eventually give way to a placid lake. Kern River Rafting was created to give residents and visitors a chance to capitalize on the river's potential for fun and adventure.
A convenient shuttle service brings you to the river from the company's home base after you've been outfitted with helmets, life vests, and paddles. Tube-mounted excursions set out from the northerly reaches of the river and go barreling through rapids. Then a ferry brings crews back north for another ride or a jaunt in a Zorb globe. These 12-foot blow-up hamster balls allow those inside to run across water, performing amphibious feats that hamsters can only dream about.
McDermont Field House wears a lot of hats. It's a fitness center that houses more than 50 cardio machines. It's an indoor soccer field that hosts open play and league games.
Elsewhere, its Eagle Mountain rock-climbing wall challenges visitors to scale more than 50 feet. But it's not a traditional wall. Instead of colorful foot and handholds, the indoor wall looks much like a real mountainside: the grey, cragged peak is unmarked, and climbers must figure out their own ways to the top. The field house also brings the ocean to the San Joaquin Valley with a FlowRider wave simulator that buoys surfers and body boarders.