Spend time in Sonoma County’s family-friendly Dry Creek Valley, home of fantastic wine, dining, shopping, and outdoor activities
September 13, 2016
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The Dry Creek Valley gets wet at Lake Sonoma. With over 40 acres of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails under the shade of oak and madrone, and plenty of picnic-ready stopping points, it’s a recreation area for all energy levels. Come spring, the wildflowers are in full bloom, with Fawn Lily, Iris, Indian Pink, Lupine, and California Poppy filling the park with bursts of color. Explore the 2,700 surface acres of the lake itself by canoe, sailboat, or motorboat. The marina rents out pontoon and catamarans by the hour. Give your sea legs a rest onshore, where BBQ pits, campsites, and sand volleyball courts abound. www.lakesonoma.com, 4200 Skaggs Springs Road, Geyserville.
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Pacific Coast Air Museum
Aviation aficionados won’t want to miss the Pacific Coast Air Museum, nestled alongside the Sonoma County Airport. This hidden Dry Creek gem boasts a ton of aircraft history, and gives visitors an opportunity to meet some of the country’s most famous planes. From Phantom #823, which flew in a major raid—“Operation Bolo,” for history buffs—against North Vietnam in ’67, to the first military fighter plane on the scene during the 9/11 attacks, the PCAM tells the story of American aviation throughout the decades. Bring the kids for a hands-on experience, and even the chance to sit in the cockpit. www.pacificcoastairmuseum.org, Tickets: $10. 1 Air Museum Way, Santa Rosa.
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Spoke Folk Cyclery
Make a visit to Spoke Folk Cyclery, the local experts on all things bike-centric. For just $38, rent your own set of tires for the day and tour Sonoma County on wheels. If you’re up for adventure, take the recommended 12-mile loop over Lambert Bridge, which will circle you through vistas of Dry Creek Valley’s illustrious vineyards. Spoke Folks call it one of the most scenic routes in Sonoma, and we’d take their word for it: They’ve been in the biking business for 40 years. Plus, Bear Republic Brewing Company is only a few pedals away, filled floor-to-ceiling with bicycling jerseys and bikes, and serving plenty of brews perfect for a post-ride toast. spokefolk.com, 201 Center Street, Healdsburg.
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This 6-acre organic farm in the heart of Healdsburg offers gorgeous bouquets and classes so you can build your own arrangements. Learn step-by-step basics of floral design, or join the DIY Design Hour and rely on your own imagination and that day’s farm-fresh flowers. They’ve also teamed up with local Relish Culinary Adventures and Wine Country Walking Tours for the Sonoma Country Living tour—a full day’s worth of food, flowers, and wine. www.dragonflyfloralschool.com, Classes from $45, 425 Westside Road, Healdsburg.
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Dry Creek Valley General Store
The Dry Creek Valley General Store has been a local shopping hub since 1881. Browse handmade gifts, books galore, and pantry staples. Once the shopping is done, try one of their legendary sandwiches for a picnic in the attached gardens. Grab a bottle of wine from the shop’s shelves, and a massive, zesty three-meat Dry Creek Stacker or a Bark Shark Brisket Panini. When you’ve had your fill, cozy up to the store’s old-school wooden bar, where an eclectic array of vintage goods hangs overhead. www.drycreekgeneralstore1881.com; 3495 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg.
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Mugnaini Cooking School
Local Italian-connoisseur Andrea Mugnaini leads culinary tours through Tuscany, but if you’re leaning more local, you can still get your pizza fix. Make your own pie in a renovated Dry Creek farmhouse, complete with six indoor and outdoor wood-fired ovens, and surrounded by herb and vegetable gardens, an orchard, and lush vineyards. mugnaini.com/cooking-school, 1530 Grove Street, 888/887-7206, Healdsburg.