Spring is one of my favorite times to play and stay in Sonoma County because it’s not as hectic. The weather can be more hit and miss, so many people decide to not visit at this time of year.
Since it’s not the peak season in tourism, those of us who live here can go to the local places and can take advantage of incredible deals. It is a great time for us to get to know the local hospitality and to treat ourselves. As a local, one of my favorite things to do is go away for a night with my husband, out to the coast or even down the street in our town and pretend we are on a vacation.
Those that do travel here in late winter/early spring are likely on business. (Of course, if you’re being sent on business to the wine country it is almost a stretch to be called “business.”) This is, however, the most amazing place to mix in a bit of pleasure.
Local B&Bs are perfect for a business trip with your loved one or for a local “staycation.” Take the Camellia Inn, for instance, on a midweek night. Make a reservation for their Chocolate Covered Wednesdays, walk to the square for a cocktail at SpoonBar, have dinner at Bistro Ralph and then safely walk back.
Another gem is the Alexander Valley Lodge, nestled in the hills overlooking the Alexander Valley with a hot tub and a view of the entire east side of the valley. It is where romance comes to flourish. Couples can reserve a B&B-style room or this lodge can be rented as one large home for a group. I love to stay there with my take-out margherita pizza from Diavola and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir from Mercury, cozied up in the hot tub with that little water fall behind me. There is no thought of business in sight!
There are many pleasurable outdoor opportunities to get fit or take breaks from the business of work. We have wonderful places to hike, jog, walk or roam around this region, from the crisp coastline with the soothing sound of the fog horn and curiosity of the tide pools to the fresh, clean air in the redwoods, to the bright beauty of the mustard plants in the fields, or the peacefulness of the river beaches.
If the weather is typical, there will be plenty of good days to take the drive out to Bodega Bay and walk along the coastline at Shell Beach. This hike is great for children of any age, and it’s fun to see the large rocks off the path that were smoothed by the prehistoric Wooly Mammoths, scratching their hides against the once rough rock surface.
A couple miles past the boulders is a path that leads to Goat Rock, a famous place really, a place where many great movies have been filmed, my favorite being “The Goonies.” This is a romantic and rejuvenating walk along the beach with the waves crashing up onto the walls of the cliffs.*
I love to spend time looking for cool rocks and shells, take in the beautiful views and then hike back to Shell Beach and settle in at the top of the hill for the coastal sunset; if I am lucky, I may one day see the elusive green flash phenomenon.
Distinct from the beautiful yellow mustard and the acres of vines that line the hillsides, Frog Woman Rock along the Russian River in Cloverdale holds another type of beauty. It was called Squaw Rock for many years, but the name was changed in 2011 to the translation of what the Pomo originally called it. There are a couple of legends associated with the rock, one about a Frog Woman creature.
I was always told the story about the Pomo princess by my grandfather—he probably fibbed his stories just like any loving grandfather would do and turned it into a love story. The red side of the rock is supposedly where the princess leapt to her death after being told she could not be with the one she loved.
There’s an indescribable serenity here. Below, near the water, is a truly peaceful place to lay down a blanket, pop a can of Sofia bubbles and bury your nose in a book—a recipe blending some of life’s simple pleasures.
Just in time for the fun, joyful feelings of spring fever, there is nothing more exciting I can think of than to get away from the business of everyday to Bodega Bay and other parts of Sonoma County—if you’re local, maybe just for a night; if you are from out of town, for the weekend or longer. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to get back to basics and remember that we are nothing without life’s simple pleasures and our very own backyard has the most amazing sights to see. Pair your business (or your busy life) with pleasure in the best possible way.
Article written for Sonoma Discoveries Magazine.