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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Find a Spiced-Up Side to Wine Country


5. Oddball Day

Navigate the currents of the Russian River in an inflatable canoe.  

Spend a day floating down the Russian River, which runs through Healdsburg before emptying into the Pacific 60 miles north of San Francisco. Start at Flying Goat Coffee, a fragrant African and Latin American bean emporium known for its made-to-order French-press coffee. Stop off at Cheese Shop (423 Center Street; 707-433-4998) and pack a picnic lunch of local cheese, bread, and charcuterie. Then, make the five-minute drive to Russian River Adventures, which provides sturdy, inflatable canoes for daylong rafting trips ($49 for adults; $24 for kids). Though the river turns choppy in the winter, the flow is meandering through the end of October. The 8.5-mile, five-hour trip runs from Healdsburg Memorial Beach to the town of Forestville, winding past nesting herons, egrets, and verdant vineyards. Stop at one of the sandy beaches along the bank to unpack your lunch and sway from the low-hanging rope swings. Afterward, take a half-hour drive to Calistoga’s Petrified Forest, a 3 million-year-old redwood forest dotted with wildflowers. The half-mile main trail offers views of Mount St. Helena, spanning Sonoma and Napa Counties. Finally, head back to Healdsburg for green-chile-topped burgers and microbrews at Bear Republic Brewery.

Published on Apr 5, 2010 as a web exclusive.

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