Summer outdoors in Sonoma and Marin

Getting out and about for outdoor activities and cultural adventures is what’s on the menu this summer as we all try to make up for the semi-lost summer of 2020, and there’s no better place than the North Bay to take advantage of our new, post-orange-tier freedom.

Many fun events, including small-group adventure options, are popping back up on local event calendars. From exploratory kayaking tours to vineyard hikes and live theater or music performances, here’s a taste of some of the adventures that are inspiring us to fill our calendars up early this summer in the North Bay.


Water Adventures

Tomales Bay Expeditions: There may not be a more gorgeous North Bay spot for paddling out into serene waters and communing with wildlife than the Tomales Bay. Like the idea of being led by an expert guide? Try a three-hour guided tour. They typically start in the morning—when paddling conditions are best—and are usually led by one of the owners—Cooper or Brett—both passionate experts on Tomales Bay and all of the plant and animal life found therein, as well as sea kayaking. You can also opt for a two-hour, four-hour or all-day kayak rental. tomalesbayexpeditions.com

Russian River Paddle Boards: If you’re looking for a great way to get out on the water while also working your core—and maybe working off that “Covid 15”—paddleboarding could be your new favorite watersport. Try a two-hour guided lesson and tour starting from Wohler Bridge, or opt to rent your own gear for a full day and choose your own entry point and route. Ask for suggestions and directions if you aren’t sure where to go. If you’re doing your own thing, versus taking a guided tour or lesson, pack a lunch and plan to stop along the way at secluded beaches to nosh and hang out. russianriverpaddleboards.com

Outdoor Food and Wine Tours

If you like cute farm animals, fresh-from-the-farm cheese, fresh-from-the-bay oysters and the great outdoors, you’ll love Food and Farm Tours “Flavors of Point Reyes” tour. This tour offers guests a peek—and taste—inside local farms and artisan food/drink producers’ unique businesses with stops at a creamery, organic veggie farm, oyster farm, meadery and more. foodandfarmtours.com/tours/flavors-of-point-reyes

Get a bird’s-eye-view on Bella Vineyard’s “Drive Through the Clouds” tour. Hop into a vintage Pinzgauer truck for a bumpy, but scenic, trip through dusty vineyards to the top of Lily Hill, where you’ll enjoy a tasting of limited-release wines among the vine-covered slopes. Offered at 10:30am daily by prepaid reservation for groups of two to six (subject to availability). This may be the coolest way to get your taste on in the Dry Creek Valley. bellawinery.com/Experience/ToursTastings


If you haven’t been on an Achadinha farm and cheese tour yet, what are you waiting for? The Pacheco family has farmed and cared for dairy animals for four generations, and made cheese at their Petaluma farm and creamery since 2000. Achadinha farm tours include a walk around the ranch and a peek into the cheese plant, milking parlor and loafing barn—where the goats and cows hang out—and are followed by a cheese tasting and the opportunity to purchase cheeses at better prices than you’ll see in stores. achadinhacheese.com/tours

*Insider Tip from Donna Pacheco, matriarch, cheesemaker extraordinaire and tour leader: “Do not wear your best shoes on this farm tour. It’s a farm.”

Adventures in the Trees

If speeding through the forest at high speeds on a zipline is your thing, or if you have a teenager who thinks everything is boring and who you’d like to prove wrong, head over to Sonoma Canopy Tours for their Treetops Tour—the fastest, longest, zipline option—or Forest Flight Tour. Savor breathtaking views of majestic redwood forests, while ziplining and rappelling your way through the treetops and then back down to base camp. sonomacanopytours.com/tree-tops-tour

Live Theater

Broadway Under the Stars: It’s back! Live musical theater is officially back on Sonoma County’s 2021 event calendar. While Transcendence Theatre Company’s entire season of events isn’t yet published, there are a few shows already up on their website. Dates for most shows begin in August. Performances begin before sundown, and a few of the August shows will be held at off-site locations—such as the Petaluma Fairgrounds, BR Cohn and Skyline Wilderness Park—in addition to the Kohler and Frohling winery ruins in Jack London State Historic Park. transcendencetheatre.org

Shakespeare Under the Stars at Buena Vista Winery is back for summer and fall 2021! Plays will be performed in Buena Vista’s beautiful fountain courtyard en plein air. Tickets are now available for their August performance—The Taming of the Shrew, which will run August 4–8 and 11–15—on sonomashakespeare.com.

Live Music

Join Adobe Road Winery for their concert series with wines and live music on Thursday evenings 4:30–7pm in the heart of downtown Petaluma. adoberoadwines.com/Events

Bella’s Live Music and Wood Oven Pizza Saturdays: Sway to the sounds of bluegrass as you picnic or nosh on wood-fired pizzas from Diavola and sip wine on the Bella Winery lawn this summer during their live music and pizza Saturdays. Music and tastings run from 11am to 4:30pm. Reservations are required and available each day at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.  bellawinery.com/Experience/Calendar

There is also live music at Balletto Vineyards near Sebastopol: Enjoy a glass or bottle of wine on the Balletto patio with live music Saturdays from 1–4 pm. ballettovineyards.com/events

Live Music Series at Hotel Healdsburg: Guests of Hotel Healdsburg’s Spirit Bar can enjoy live music from country folk singer/songwriter Dustin Saylor Fridays from 6–8pm, and jazz by various Northern California groups and musicians on Saturdays from 5–8pm. hotelhealdsburg.com/hotel-happenings

Brewster’s Pub hosts live bands every Thursday–Sunday in their open-air Petaluma restaurant. Their unique outdoor space features large heat lamps, a fire pit, a bocce court, a children’s play area and a live-music stage. brewstersbeergarden.com/calendar

Local Hiking Groups and Organizations

Local Meetup Groups: Join a Meetup Hiking Group! There are so many great outdoors- and hiking-focused Meetup groups in Sonoma and Marin Counties; there’s a group to suit everyone’s pace/style/needs. Are you up for 8–12 mile hikes at moderate levels of difficulty? Training for a long-distance endurance event? What about meeting a group of people who like to kayak and canoe? There are groups for all of these and more. Find a group at MeetUp.com.
Non-profit community conservation organization Landpaths hosts regular events focused on rooting youth in nature, growing community with nature, and education. Landpaths’ guided walks through nature, led by experts, offer fire-ecology education, opportunities to volunteer to help reestablish trails and more. Click on their calendar at landpaths.org.

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