Everyone knows Sonoma as a great place for amazing food and wine but I don’t think many people realize what a phenomenal year-round outdoor paradise it is, too. From miles and miles of rugged coastline to ancient redwood forests to some of the best road biking in the US, there’s just an endless number of outdoorsy things to do to keep you busy. And with a super mild year-round climate, no time is a bad time to explore the county.
Being a local boy, summers were always spent on the Russian River. Whether we were at Memorial Beach picnicking or canoeing down the north arm through Alexander Valley, so many great summer memories revolved around being on the river. But something that I’ve never done before and has been on my list for a very long time was stand up paddle boarding on the river. I really had no good excuse not to since just two miles away from Farmhouse Inn and walking distance from my house at Riverfront Park Russian River Paddle Boards now offers daily paddleboard experiences.
So, on a sunny Saturday in July, my family and I decided to embark on a paddleboard adventure on the river.
We met John, the owner (and all-around outdoorsman extraordinaire), in the parking lot and he drove us down to the beach where we loaded the paddle boards. We could have done a guided excursion but we opted to wing it in case we wanted to cut the day short. This time of year, the water is calm and deep because of a seasonal dam that goes in right past Wohler bridge. It really felt more like a lake than a river with only a few tight spots where the water was moving quickly. We paddled about a mile upriver and then about a two and a half miles half down the river to Wohler Bridge. It was an amazing day full of scenic beauty and great wildlife – we saw an eagle, a river otter, endless great blue herons – and picnicked on a remote beach that we discovered. The day flew by and we loved every moment.
Of course, being local, we didn’t feel the need to add wine tasting on but we easily could have. Right across from the park, one of our winery partners and a personal favorite of mine, Copain, does amazing Farm Table tastings of their cooler climate Burgundian style varietals. They have a commanding view of the entire Russian River Valley and deep porch chairs to relax in and take in that view.
A little further down the road sits one of our icons of the Russian River Valley, Kistler. Home to some of the very best chardonnays and pinot noirs coming out of California, their rustic Trenton Roadhouse provides beautiful views and is an ideal setting to learn more about their amazing wine program.
However, after 7 hours of paddle boarding, we instead opted to head home and take a nap. All in all, just about a perfect day!