Spring is here. Time to start taking advantage of those weekends. If you live close to Northern California wine country, it’s a timely reminder of all the great getaway spots we have around the Bay Area. If you’re traveling from a distance, it’s the time of year that will convince you to book a trip.
Spring break is winding down and summer vacation still seems far away, but Napa Valley and Sonoma County wine country have plenty to keep you regardless of the season.
Arts in April makes spring the perfect time to head to Napa Valley. Back for its sixth annual appearance, the month-long showcase features more than 80 events from art classes at local studios and floral arranging classes at wineries, to installations and exhibits throughout Napa Valley.
If you’ve never visited di Rosa, April is your inspiration. If you’ve already been, you know why you need to go back. Surrounded by grapevines, di Rosa calls more than 200 acres home. There’s three galleries, a sculpture park, 35-acre lake and wildlife preserve. Docent-led tours help you navigate your way and see it all at an enjoyable pace.
If you’d rather go it on your own, take advantage of the Napa Art Walk. More than a dozen sculptures scattered throughout downtown highlight what a great spot downtown Napa is. And, it’s not technically not part of Arts in April, but I’d say fly fishing is an art in its own right and now you can take fly fishing lessons paired with wine tasting, right in the heart of downtown. Uncorked at Oxbow – a tasting room right across the street from the Oxbow Public Market has teamed up with Off the Hook Fly Fishing. You practice casting in the grass between the Oxbow Public Market and the Napa River.
Just like Napa, there’s more to Sonoma County than just wine.
It’s easy to forget Sonoma Coast State Park runs 17 miles from Bodega Head in the south to Jenner in the north and picking a beach is as easy as pulling over when you see a spot you like. Salmon Creek is a favorite spot for sand dune surfing. From March through June, harbor seal moms and their pups take over Jenner’s Goat Rock Beach. Be sure to bring layers. It’s better to peel things off when you’re warm, than be cold.
If you’re not in the mood for a walk along the coast, how about through the woods?
For the full effect, don’t drive into Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Park the car in the lot before the entrance (it’s free), or along the side of the road if it’s full, and walk into the park.
The Parson Jones Tree is the tallest redwood tree in the grove. At more than 310 feet, it’s taller than the length of a football field and is mere steps from the park entrance. The Colonel Armstrong Tree is the oldest tree in the grove, and is believed to be more than 1,400 years old. It’s named after the lumberman who preserved the portion of the park in the 1870s. The tree is located about a half-mile walk from the park entrance.
Whether you’re in the mood for an easy one mile walk or a more strenuous nine mile hike, there’s a trail for you here. Downtown Guerneville is just a five minute or so drive away.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more time behind the wheel, take advantage of your vacation time in the San Francisco Bay Area and make the trip to Hearst Castle. About a four hour drive from San Francisco, the castle was created by William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan. It has 165 rooms and 127 acres of terraces, pools, walkways and gardens. Advance tour reservations are a good idea to prevent disappointment.
After you tour the castle, Paso Robles is about a 40 minute drive. This stretch of wine country still flies a bit under the radar, but with more than 200 wineries in the area, and more than 40 wine grape varietals and blends are produced, odds are in your favor of finding something new to enjoy. At Eberle Winery, tastings and tours of the 16,000 square feet of wine caves are complimentary, a word that’s seldom used in Napa and Sonoma. The region’s a nice alternative for wine lovers looking for something new and different.