Ballooning and Westside Road
- Head out early for your appointed liftoff in a hot-air balloon with Above the Wine Country Ballooning and your unique chance at aerial photography.
- Fly over the beautiful Sonoma countryside snapping shots of the vineyards from the air. This aspect on the horizon and the topography below is priceless. Back on the ground, head north on Eastside Road, which turns into Old Redwood Highway, and motor into Healdsburg for a stroll around “the square.”
- Do a bit of shopping (check out our shopping activities page) and have lunch at one of the town’s many eateries. We suggest the Dry Creek Kitchen for a fancy meal, Charcuterie for a mid-priced meal, or Oakville Grocery for a quick, gourmet sandwich or pizza.
- Photogenic barns dot the vineyard countryside.
- Head out of town on Mill Street, then south on Westside Road. Get ready to shoot some of the prettiest vineyard countryside in Sonoma — rustic barns, manicured gardens, broad vineyard views. The many different styles of tasting rooms would make for a nice photo series.
- Down the road at Hop Kiln Winery, the 100-year-old kilns provide a magnificent photo opportunity surrounded by the winery’s vineyards. Before the days of grapes, this was the original roastery for beer hops.
- Swing into Rochiol, Moshin, and Gary Farrell for more fabulous wines, then wind your way back to the Inn stopping at Iron Horse Vineyards off Ross Station Road on the way.
- Kick back with hors d’oeuvres and more wine until your dinner reservation at Stella’s Café.
Coleman Valley Road, The Coast, and The Redwoods
- Grab an Armstrong Redwoods Grove trail map before you leave the Inn.
- Drive Coleman Valley Road from the Inn to the coast. One of the most beautiful drives you’ll ever take, this 25-minute jaunt takes you through forests, pastoral valleys, and finally, to the rugged coastline.
- A pastoral scene on Coleman Valley Road.
- You’ll want to stop for shots numerous times — particularly if the cows, sheep, and wild turkeys are cooperative.
- When you reach the coast, grab the tripod for stunning shots of the beaches and the waves crashing on the cliffs.
- Take a right and drive north up Highway 1 to the small village of Jenner. During this eight miles, you’ll experience the Sonoma Coast with its jagged rocks, coastal flowers, and maybe a little coastal fog rolling in. We ‘re sure you’ll find many photo opportunities.
- In Jenner, go to the River’s End restaurant for lunch and sample something off the wonderful wine list. The deck offers terrific angles on the Russian River pouring into the sea.
- Many hiking trails wind through Armstrong Redwoods State Park.
- Head east on Highway 116 past Guerneville to the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. Turn left onto Armstrong Woods Road for about three miles to the park and its visitor center.
- Take out your trail map and choose the trail that suits your fancy. The map describes a number of walks and hikes of varying lengths and difficulty. Experience the magic these 1,400-year-old trees share with you. The silence, the quiet, and the beauty are simply breathtaking, and whether it’s sunny or misty — your shots will be spectacular.
- Stroll up to Bull Frog Pond and enjoy the view all around you.
- Head back to Occidental on the Bohemian Highway and return to the Inn for wine/cheese hour.
- Relax with a glass of wine until it’s time for your dinner reservation at K&L Bistro.
Occidental and Safari West
- Sleep in, have a late breakfast and take some time enjoying the local scenery. Request an Inn copy of An Historical and Anecdotal Walking Tour of the Small (but Fascinating) Village of Occidental, California.
- Stroll the town, peruse its shops, and try some artsy shots of the town’s unique murals.
- Get cozy with feathered friends at the Safari West aviary.
- Head out around 2 p.m. to make your 3 p.m. safari.
- Take Graton Road all the way to a right turn onto Guerneville Road. Take a left on Fulton Road and a right on River Road, which becomes Mark West Springs past Highway 101.
- Take Mark West Springs until you feel like you’ve gone too far. That’s when you’ll spot the sign for Safari West on the left. Offering a taste of Africa in the midst of wine country, Safari West is a unique photo opportunity — close-ups on giraffes without the bars of a zoo, pictures of birds from inside the aviary.
- Safari West has many beautiful giraffes.
- Enjoy the authentic jungle jeep ride and snap shots of zebra, antelope and ostriches.
- Head back out Mark West Springs Road, and turn left onto Barnes Road just after you cross Highway 101.
- Pull into the Vintners Inn for your dinner reservation at John Ash & Co. Savor the restaurant’s innovative Wine Country cuisine and stunning vineyard views (ask for a table outside). Take River Road back to Fulton Road and retrace your way back to the Inn.
- Don’t forget to stop in the foyer to grab your nightly “sweet dreams” cookie.