Flying over Sonoma and Napa counties a the view of the ocean coasts, geysers, redwood forests and perhaps even of San Francisco, provides some of the best entertainment for anyone living in or visiting the North Bay. For 35 years, Scott van der Horst has been piloting hot air balloon tours with one of the original touring companies in Sonoma County, Wine Country Balloons, for tourists and locals who are looking for a nearby adventure. “The biggest draw of the balloons is it’s a unique type of flight. It’s a type of entertainment rather than transportation,” says van der Horst.
A number of different locations are used for taking off and landing, letting anyone on the tour enjoy the beautiful, surrounding landscape. Over the course of an hour, the balloon rises between 500 and 1,500 feet and travels five to 10 miles, drifting with the wind current. Van der Horst explains that, while traveling in the balloon, there’s no physical sensation of movement, which lets guests have a peaceful ride over Wine Country. After ballooning, the tour offers guests a sit down brunch at a small café near the landing site.
The elevation lets guests really see what Sonoma and Napa counties have to offer. It encourages taking a trip to all the memorable sites seen from the sky once the balloon lands. Whether you’re touring Sonoma and Napa valleys, or you’re a local looking for something exciting and new to do, the experience is one of a kind.
Exploring parts of the North Bay on horseback is quite the adventure— and a new, exciting way to experience scenic trails and the Sonoma Coast. A few different companies offer guided horseback riding tours to anyone interested in exploring the trails through the redwood forests and countrysides that overlook the bay.
Point Reyes Arabian Adventurestakes its guests on trails through Tomales Bay, the West Marin countryside and San Francisco Bay. The tours are offered to anyone, from those with little to no riding experience to intermediate riders. There are various trails to choose from, so each guest can experience a woodland or coastal ride. An expert instructor makes sure everyone has the best experience possible.
A little farther north, in Bodega Bay, Horse N Around Trail Rides offers trails that view the Sonoma County coast on its 378-acre ranch. Guests can choose from a variety of different trails including its wetlands trail, Salmon Creek trail, Miwok Village trail or a beach ride. Each explores different landscapes across the Bodega Bay area.
In Napa, a completely volunteer organization called Access Adventure provides education, recreation and therapeutic interactions with horses for people with physical or mental disabilities. The organization also offers horse and carriage rides to help accommodate participants. A scenic and peaceful view of Napa Valley can be seen along the trails.
Rollin’ Through Town
Taking a tour of Sonoma, Marin or Napa county doesn’t sound too out of the ordinary, but doing it on a Segway brings a new level of excitement. Guided Segway tours are offered throughout the North Bay to provide a different view on the scenic, historical elements of towns like Sausalito, Sonoma and Napa. Gliding through the towns on bike paths and passing wineries and estuaries is a fun way to get to know the important, historic aspects of the North Bay.
A siteseeing tour close to the bay with the view of the skyline of San Francisco and Oakland begins with The Sausalito Segway Tour. This two-hour tour guides you through the historic waterfront of Sausalito on the hidden bayside trails. During the excursion, guests are taken to places such as the ferry landing, Dunphy park, Galilee Harbor and the Marin shipyards which host more than 100 World War II Liberty Ships.
Sonoma Segway tours go through country roads and paths that lead to some of the oldest wineries in California. While visiting the wineries, guests enjoy lunch and after the Segway tour, the hosts provide a trip to the Vella Cheese Factory for a free tour and tasting.
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Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..