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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.
13840 Healdsburg Ave.
Beneath the high ceilings of Cast Away's yarn shop, towering shelves overflow with bundles of color-coordinated wool, cashmere, and alpaca yarn. Cobblers' tool shelves, iron baby bathtubs, and even a dingy retired from its maritime duties catch the runoff, creating a homey space peppered with vibrant colors for a distinctly bohemian feel.
At the center of this antique bliss is a pair of vintage armchairs, where customers can recline and survey how-to books or familiarize themselves with the supplies for one of Cast Away's staff-taught classes. Though the calendar implies a steady buzz of activity, the shop's proprietor doesn't stop there. She regularly books notable authors and designers for workshops and special lessons that center around projects such as knitted afghan squares and lace vests that add old-timey charm to an outfit without forcing one to wear steel gauntlets.
111 4th St.
The sun slowly dips on the horizon, glazing the waters of the Russian River with a rippling coat of light as the water snakes through the forest to the coast. High above the tips of the ancient, sunset-drenched trees, the hum of a small airplane piloted by Rob Clark—a seasoned commercial pilot with 33 years of experience under his belt—punctuates the bird song emanating from their branches.
The natural world feels closer than the altitude would suggest on North Coast Air’s scenic air tours, which fly high above the coastline from San Francisco to Sonoma County. When they aren’t regaling passengers with anecdotes about the land’s natural history, Rob and his team of FAA–certified pilots share their passion for flight during individualized flight-instruction programs. Dedicated to helping students to become aviators in their own right, the team patiently teaches the skills necessary to attain a pilot’s license or complete the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.
5010 Flightline Dr.
The 22 acres of Morton's Warm Springs sprawls across meadows, clusters of towering oaks, and rugged rock formations surrounding a bubbling creek, immersing visitors in outdoor recreation since 1946. The site originally served as a camp for the Wappo Native Americans, who believed its mineral waters were sacred and imbued with healing properties. Today, visitors splash through these same waters in three natural pools fed by geothermal springs, where park staff also teach basic swim techniques and advanced Marco Polo strategy to children 5–12 years old. Guests can also play on bocce-ball, basketball, and sand or hard volleyball courts, and stroll along natural paths meandering beside the creek. Throughout the park, 20 indoor or outdoor picnic sites house revelers during weddings, family reunions, and school events, and many are equipped with brick or stone grills for cooking, running water for washing, and electricity for recharging robot uncles.
1651 Warm Springs Rd.
Though many outsiders know Sonoma County for its fine wines, the savvy drinkers at North Bay Brewery Tours spread the word about the region’s other specialty: craft beer. A relatively simple outfit, the company only needs knowledgeable drivers and tour guides, a fleet of buses running on eco-friendly compressed natural gas, and enough effort to organize group tours, party buses, and pub crawls. Brewery-hopping tours, their top services, head to three craft breweries each trip. One on-the-bus tour segment demonstrates from start-to-finish how beer is made.
Beer samples will be available for purchase at participating breweries, and complimentary ice-cold water or beer on the bus keeps tour takers thirsts' slaked between stops. Examiner.com recommended the tour as an excellent way to taste a variety of brews while enjoying the safety of a designated driver.
5000 Roberts Lake Rd.
With its sprawling, emerald vineyards, slate-colored lakes, and winding rivers, the Sonoma Valley seems unfairly intended for birds. However, Sonoma Valley Balloons' FAA-certified balloon pilots with more than 30 years of experience rebel against Mother Nature, lifting their hot air crafts from the ground and navigating them along the morning sky's gentle air currents with little sensation of motion and wind. Because of this, passengers have commented that they didn't realize the balloon had lifted off the ground, and that they had no perception of height as there is nothing connecting them to the ground.
As the aerostat soars over the picturesque valley and Russian River with the sight of the Pacific coast to San Francisco Bay, geysers, and giant redwood trees in the distance on clear days, passengers can merely gaze in awe at the views or finally retrieve their long-lost frisbees. All pilots are fully insured and licensed by the California Public Utilities Commission and United States Department of Transportation, ensuring a safe, professional flight.
269 Aviation Blvd.
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