Hotel at a Glance: Highland Dell Lodge
Surrounded by majestic redwoods and right on the Russian River, this lodge provides a peaceful base from which to explore Sonoma wine country. The Sonoma Wine Road, a gateway to dozens of vineyards, lies just to the east, and the Pacific Ocean is just 10 miles west.
- Centennial renovation: The lodge dates back to 1906 and underwent a total renovation in 2006.
- Free breakfast buffet: scrambled eggs, quiche, pancakes, sausage, bacon, cereal, bagels, yogurt, and coffee (menu varies daily)
- Grab a bite at the Riverview Restaurant, which offers German and Californian cuisine that you can enjoy on a massive patio.
- Rooms with a view: Most guest rooms have views of the surrounding redwoods; balcony rooms also have a view of the Russian River.
- Tee off at Northwood Golf Club, a nine-hole course just 1.6 miles from the lodge.
Sonoma Valley, California: Relaxed Wine Country and Majestic Redwoods
Located about an hour north of San Francisco, the Sonoma Valley is best known for its wine. The mild climate here allows winemakers to grow cool-weather varietals such as pinot noir and chardonnay. But the valley has a varied landscape; some areas are prime for growing hot-weather vines, too.
Follow 17 miles of country roads that connect the sleepy hamlet of Kenwood to the Carneros appellation and you'll find more than 40 boutique wineries, most small and family owned. Many are tucked amid oak forests and wildflower meadows. Compared to its neighbor Napa Valley (about 15 miles away), Sonoma feels a little more relaxed and remote: the wineries here are generally more secluded from one another than those in Napa, and tasting rooms tend to be less crowded, even on the weekends.
Even if you aren't visiting for the vineyards, Sonoma Valley's gentle climate and diverse natural landscape make it worth a visit. Hiking trails wind past redwood trees as high as skyscrapers, and popular excursions are canoeing on Russian River and sightseeing at the craggy Pacific coastline and its unspoiled beaches.