A couple goes adventuring in the great outdoors for a unique experience in the California Redwoods
Zach and I were designed for outdoors adventuring. Breathing in the fresh air and connecting with Mother Nature, we found the adventure we were looking for in Santa Rosa.
We got on the road early and went straight to one of the main reasons for our trip—a hike through a California Redwood Forest. Armstrong Woods, located in Guerneville, is home to some of the tallest and oldest trees remaining in this part of California. As you stroll through this beautiful old-growth redwood forest, you’ll find the Parson Jones Tree (about 310 feet high) and the Colonel Armstrong Tree, which is more than 1,400 years old. While you can drive into the park, the best way to experience the dramatic effect of the towering redwoods is to park in the lot at the park entrance and walk in for free. The Pioneer Nature Trail is a great way to experience the park—it is a mile and a half long round trip and is mostly flat and level. Breathing in the cool air, we were in awe of the beautiful trees and the serene sounds of the forest.
Driving along the river after our visit to the woods, we saw people kayaking on the river, and while we didn’t have time for it today, we know we will be back for that adventure! We continued toward Santa Rosa to check-in to our hotel for the night. Hotel La Rose, in downtown Santa Rosa, is the only hotel in Sonoma County that is listed with the National Trust, Historic Hotels of America, and a great place for our home base, with a bit of romance.
Fancy a bike ride?
Sonoma County’s biking reputation precedes itself, with international professionals riding its roads for fun and competition; they know a thing or two about exploring on two wheels. Whether you prefer a tough climb with winding declines and stellar views or simply want to enjoy a smooth guided ride through vineyards, Sonoma County has a ride for everyone. We weren’t familiar with the roads or trails, so we chose to rent bikes and take a guided ride with Getaway Adventures. The tour began in Santa Rosa, continuing to charming Sebastopol and beyond. We biked along the Joe Rodota trail to The Barlow, Sonoma County’s newest open-air market center, where we explored artisan shops, wineries, breweries, and enjoyed a delicious fresh and local lunch. We then cycled along the bike path and back roads to Taft Street Winery, famous for its garagiste wine. We pedaled to Fog Crest Vineyards soon after, where we sipped wine on the terrace overlooking the Santa Rosa Plain, and then continued to Laguna Trail in Sebastopol to pick up the bike path that brought us back to Santa Rosa. The tour lasted 5 ½ hours and was a great way to experience beautiful scenery and great wine and food.
Searching for Snoopy
After the bike ride, we walked around downtown where we saw quite a few statues of “Peanuts” characters. We decided to investigate further and discovered that Santa Rosa was home to Charles Schulz! We couldn’t miss the opportunity to check out the Charles M. Schulz Museum and soak in the characters of one of our favorite comics. Next door is Snoopy’s Home Ice, where we saw people of all ages enjoying ice skating, a must do for families and couples alike.
Before calling it a day, we stopped in for a drink and dinner at The County Bench Kitchen + BAR, a popular new restaurant focusing on farm fresh and local ingredients and delicious cocktails.
More of the great outdoors
For our last day, we strapped on our hiking boots and made our way to Annadel State Park. This Santa Rosa park offers trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, as well as fishing, picnic areas, learning/visitors center and guided tours. For wildflower lovers, Annadel Park offers a great variety of flowers from early spring until early summer, especially on a hike around Lake Ilsanjo. The views of Santa Rosa were beautiful and we really enjoyed exploring the available trails.
When hunger called, we grabbed some lunch and headed just 15 miles west on Highway 12, to Jack London State Historic Park. Once known as Jack London's "Beauty Ranch," the historic 1,400-acre ranch includes the original Cottage, the House of Happy Walls Museum, Wolf House ruins and more than 20 miles of trails. We recommend that you allow three hours to visit, as it took most of the afternoon to explore the various attractions and enjoy the trails.
Begrudgingly, we began our journey home driving down the California Coast and discovered Bodega Bay. Best known for its cameo in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, Bodega Harbor is a popular crabbing area. We made our way to Bodega Head, the rocky headland with ocean side hiking trails. The high cliffs offered excellent vantage points for observing migrating gray whales. After a beautiful hike to the cliffs, we headed back to the car to gather our supplies and headed down to the small sandy cove, where we laid out a blanket and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the brisk ocean air.
We know there is so much more to discover, including a zip line and ocean kayaking, so we can’t wait to visit again soon. If you’re looking for outdoor adventures with a great wine, beer and culinary scene, you’ve come to the right place. Santa Rosa is the happening hub for all there is to see, do, eat, drink, hike, bike and explore in Sonoma County.
Plan your outdoor adventures in Santa Rosa.