A fire swept through the Mayacamas Mountains foothills in 1964, creating an environment ripe for the knobcone pines that quickly repopulated the land. Four years later, Jane Davenport Jansen purchased more than 40 acres of the nascent thicket, taming it with vineyards planted on the open valley floor. In 1987, she began cultivating a garden along the rocky, steep hillsides, which were pocked with the remains of abandoned rock quarries. Heavy rains and natural infiltration of waters created a group of ponds, creating a serene natural environment that Jansen soon planted with seedlings, flowers, and plants from seeds collected on more than 25 annual Asian expeditions. Until she passed away in 2000, Jansen funded the growth and cultivation of the 25-acre garden, which is now one of the largest collections of scientifically documented, wild-source Asian plants on the continent. Visitors can view the rare plants and vast selection of Asian greenery blossoming from the Glen Ellen countryside as they meander through the gardens during self-led tours.
Sonoma Pedicab's able-bodied cabbies employ eco-friendly leg power to chauffeur wine-enthused tourists through Sonoma's picturesque wine country. Departing from Sonoma City Hall, drivers propel vineyard-hopping guests through wine country, overflowing irises with views of rolling mountains and lush, green tree branches heavy with round, succulent marbles. Taste buds explore the aromas and flavors of local varietals, and a smorgasbord of cheese and chocolate keeps palates cleansed and appetites quenched during tours. As cabbies conquer miles of arresting landscapes, the pedicab's awning keeps rogue sunrays from hijacking sensitive oculars, and reflectors, shock-absorbent seating, and hydraulic brakes keep guests as safe and comfortable as an oyster slumbering in a Kevlar shell.
A 166-square-mile valley that encompasses forests, grasslands, parks, and vineyards, the Sonoma creek watershed teems with biodiversity. The conservationists behind Sonoma Ecology both sustain and unveil this region to visitors through education, restoration, and research programs that range from youth science camps to sustainable gardening. Through these efforts, they preserve lands such as the Sonoma Overlook Trail, a 3-mile walking path that leads hikers and traveling minstrels past native plants and animals, including California freshwater shrimp, chinook, and endangered steelhead trout running up the valley's boulder-strewn rapids.
Each year, Mud Factor plows into towns across the country towing along a fun, yet challenging 5K course full of obstacles and mud to trudge through. But it's not just the adults who get covered in the dirty stuff. Mud Factor Kidz offers all the steep hills, muddy pits, and dark moments of introspection as the grownup course. Athletes between 4 and 13 years old run between 1.5 and 2 miles. Costumes are encouraged for runners who like to rock their own style.
Benziger Family Winery hosts daily tram tours that depart on the half-hour from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with the exception of noon. Imagery Estate Winery hosts tastings Monday–Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit that positions machines inward so that you'll have a chance to laugh with your fellow fitness frontierswomen while raising your heart rate and burning calories with a complete aerobic and strength-training workout. Hydraulic resistance machines are designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine manoeuvring and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.