When it comes to the great outdoors, Sonoma and its environs are blessed with so many appealing options that it can be difficult to decide what to do next. From the rugged coast and its alluring beaches and campsites, to the craggy inland mountains for hiking and biking, and everything in between, there’s a wealth of choices for those who love to spend time outdoors.
The glorious Sonoma summer weather — cool mornings, warm, sunny afternoons and little chance of rain — perfectly complements outdoor action. Take a look at our suggestions, then hop on your bike, lace up for a hike, or dive into a lake. Summer may not last forever, but the memories will.
There’s nothing quite like a lazy (or energetic) day of BOATING
Petaluma River, Petaluma
Spending some time on the water is a great way to get away from it all without traveling too far. Launch in downtown Petaluma and within minutes, great blue herons in the reeds and great egrets in the trees will come into view. Haul your own vessel, or rent a kayak or standup paddleboard at Clavey Paddlesports, whose staff will guide customers to the launch dock on the river.
Clavey’s Jeff Kellogg notes that excursions can be oriented toward downtown Petaluma at high tide — the river is actually a tidal slough and fluctuates with the tides — or paddlers can set off toward San Pablo Bay. Armed with a good map, tidal knowledge and a GPS system, boaters can explore the sloughs and wetlands around the bay.
Standup paddleboard rentals start at $55 for four hours; single kayaks are $75 a day and $95 for the weekend; double kayaks and canoes cost $95 a day and $120 for the weekend.
Clavey Paddlesports, 409 Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma, 707-766-8070, clavey.com
Russian River, Healdsburg
Just southeast of downtown Healdsburg and at the base of Memorial Bridge, River’s Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips offers guided and solo paddles on the upper Russian River, where otters, turtles and herons might be spotted. A 5-mile trip takes two to three hours and ends at the River’s Edge beach. The river is placid in summer, but late in the season, when the flow is low, some portage may be required — particularly in drought years. Kayak rentals start at $45 for a single, $90 for a double. Canoes are $90 for the trip.
River’s Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips, 13840 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-7247, riversedgekayakandcanoe.com
Russian River, Forestville
Burke’s Canoe Trips in Forestville rents canoes for serene floats along the Russian River. Drift downstream toward the sea on this redwood-forested riverway; the 10-mile trip includes a return shuttle. $65 per canoe (not per person) includes paddles and life vests.
Burke’s Canoe Trips, 8600 River Road, Forestville, 707-887-1222, burkescanoetrips.com
Other water spots:
Lake Sonoma’s Yorty Creek Recreation Area in Cloverdale is good for kayak launching.
Like still-water kayaking? Check out Lake Benoist at Healdsburg’s Riverfront Park.
TIP: Polarized sunglasses cut down on the glare of the water and are easier on the eyes.
Pack up the marshmallows, get the tent, and go CAMPING
photos by Alvin Jornada
Doran Beach Regional Park, Bodega Bay
Camp a stone’s throw from the Sonoma Coast’s most family-friendly beaches. RVs are welcome and descend by the dozens during weekends at this popular site, but there’s also a section for tent camping. A boat launch is nearby, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore hidden coves and fly a kite. Doran also has tranquil, yet bracingly chilly, swimming.
Campgrounds in Sonoma County’s ’s regional parks start taking reservations exactly a year in advance, so plan ahead and book for next summer. But don’t give up on this summer: cancellations are frequent and weekdays are often open. The $32-per-night fee includes one vehicle and one towed. Follow the links on the website to check for availability and book a campsite. Also reserve by going to sonomacountycamping.org and selecting the campground from the drop-down menu. Or call the Regional Parks office at 565-2041.
Doran Beach Regional Park, 201 Doran Beach Road, Bodega Bay, 707-565-2041, parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Get_Outdoors/Parks/Doran_Regional_Park.aspx