Take calming cedar baths and canoe down the Russian River with this gentle guide to drinking in the best of northern California‘s vineyard-trailed hinterland.
For sure, the northern part of California, just up from San Francisco and the Bay Area, is synonymous with wine – Napa Valley alone has 400 wineries and counting. But take a leisurely drive, walk or cycle through the area and you’ll also be met with dramatic coastlines, salty ocean air, ancient forests, snaking river bends, giant redwood forests and wilderness parks aplenty, making it a great place to reconnect with nature, too. After all that mindful exploration, what better way to power down than with a glass of the area’s finest?
Timber Cove Resort is quintessential Sonoma: dramatic views from bluffs overlooking the Pacific, 55mi (90km) of switchback coastline to explore and towering redwoods, as well as good food and comfy rooms back at base. Indeed, the lodge was specifically built in 1963 as a place of meditation and tranquility by architect and original owner Richard Clements Jr., and later visited by artsy friends, including sculptor Beniamino Bufano and photographer Ansel Adams, who came to capture the natural beauty here. Today, you too can get out and explore via hotel-organized rafting, hiking and kayaking trips, along the Russian River and Goat Rock State Beach.
Of course, you could test your mettle in a solo kayak by paddling up the Russian River. Who doesn’t like a challenge? Then again, you could simply rent a kayak or canoe from Burke’s Canoes and do a DIY float downriver – with the current behind you – towards the ocean, where you can be picked up by a prearranged car shuttle. No paddling back up against the current afterward, so a perfectly hassle-free outing.
The Osmosis Spa’s cedar-bath treatment starts with you being immersed in a wooden tub filled with a warm, fragrant blend of finely ground evergreens and rice bran, a combination that is said to improve circulation, relieve joint and muscle pain, and deliver all-around health benefits. Team it with a 75-minute massage to rid yourself of any residual stress.
The spa at this former estate turned elegant Sonoma resort offers a selection of massage, body and facial treatments that use flowers, herbs and other plants plucked from the gardens at MacArthur Place. You get access to seven indoor treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, steam room and fitness studio equipped with Peloton bikes, and can also sign up for vinyasa yoga classes and late-night stargazing.