Napa Valley Paddle teaches people to walk on water. Armed with a fleet of stand-up paddleboards, instructors get riverine explorers up and standing during a brief on-shore lesson. From there, guests have unfettered access to the exclusive northern views of the pristine and revitalized Napa River, where they glide along its reed-lined shores through downtown to see the river's natural contours.
The sport is known for its cross-training and ab-blasting benefits, and in addition to being an effective exercise, it can also double as bonding experience. To that end, Napa Valley Paddle leads educational tours or team-building excursions.
Situated along the Lower Russian River, Monte Rio Recreation & Park District supplements trips to the beach or paddling along the water in a rented kayak or canoe. On-site, events are regularly held for the community that include yoga alongside redwoods, historic walks and picnics, or casual meetups for cycling clubs. The park also hosts weddings throughout the year, with indoor and outdoor venues available to accommodate any size ceremony and reception.
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.
Point Reyes Outdoors leads hiking, biking, and kayaking expeditions through the unsown hills of the Point Reyes National Seashore and the tranquil waters of the California coast. During kayak tours, explorers jaunt through the tidal waterways of Drakes Estero and sunset forays into Tomales Bay. Guided nature hikes explore the local bounty of flora and fauna such as marine mammals, wildflowers, or migratory lawn gnomes.
Nature specialists, such as biologists, nurses, and certified kayak instructors, lead all tours and provide insight into the landscape and its inhabitants. Point Reyes Outdoors also rents out mountain bikes, which guests can use to pedal through a circuit of nearby trails that climb Fir Top mountain or stretch out to Wildcat Beach.
Underneath the sky-blue rafters of Rockzilla's spacious indoor gym, a veritable mountain range of multicolored walls challenges climbers of all experience levels. Sheer-faced cliffs challenge the top-roping and lead-climbing techniques of both beginners and experts, and a mushroom-shaped structure builds skills in bouldering and reveals the fossil record of ancient screws and bolts. The mat-lined floor, harnesses, and dedication to belaying skills ensure every visitor's comfort and safety. In addition to hosting hangouts, parties, and team-building exercises onsite, Rockzilla crashes entire tectonic plates into customers' backyards, forming portable climbing walls available for rent.
Seated in your kayak, you're surrounded by cerulean waters that stretch out into the horizon. To your left, the San Francisco skyline looms in the shimmering afternoon sun. You drift by a raucous Giants game, a village of houseboats, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Led through undulating waters by American Canoe Association– and Wilderness First Aid–certified guides, San Francisco Kayak & Adventures' nautical tour groups traverse the San Francisco Bay or Sausalito waterfront during the day, at sunset, and under the light of the full moon. The guides lead their groups through calm costal waters in sturdy, closed-deck tandem kayaks, which keep legs dry and don't require typical Flintstone-style paddling. The guides regale their group with area history while pointing out local marine life. They only shepherd about eight paddlers to keep tours intimate and personal and customize paddling instruction to the ability levels of the group.
Guides also help visitors explore the natural world on land during hiking excursions between redwood trees in Muir Woods, along a coastal trail in the Tennessee Valley, and past ghost-town buildings at China Camp Village. To expand visitors' wilderness exposure, they also lead adventures such as sailing, rock-climbing, cycling in the city, horseback riding on the beach, and sleeping in phone booths.