Drive two hours north of San Francisco, past Napa and Sonoma, and you'll encounter Boonville, a former logging town in the Anderson Valley founded in the 1850s. The region's rolling hills and redwood forests blend with orchards and vineyards, home to a mix of country folk and well-heeled sophisticates. Funky Boonville, a town of less than a thousand, and the instantly likable Boonville Hotel are decidedly low-key counterpoints to the stuffier wine country down south.
Room & Board: Once a roadhouse, the 139-year-old, two-story, salmon-colored hotel still beckons passersby with its spacious verandas, wooden rockers, and inviting hammocks. Everything about this place exudes comfort, from the ten rooms (including a studio and a bungalow) with downy duvets and Shaker-style furnishings to the homespun restaurant serving local pinot noir and rib-eye steak with polenta. Alongside the airy dining room and bar, the yard overflows with roses, sunflowers, and a cook's garden of berries, herbs, and rhubarb.
Out the Back Door: Grab a kayak and a guide in the coastal town of Elk, 16 miles away, and follow a five-mile out-and-back route: Paddle beneath Wharf Rock arch, heading north past coves, caves, and a bird and seal rookery, and riding open-ocean swells on the way back to Greenwood State Beach. Closer to Boonville, hike two miles through virgin redwood groves in Hendy Woods State Park and swim in the Navarro River where it flows beneath a white wooden bridge just outside the park.