Compiled by Andrew Bowen & the beleaguered Gretchen Giles
The North Bay is lousy with great walking tours, organized hiking opportunities and art walks. Here are some of our favorite ways to ditch the car and locomote, brain fully engaged.
Coastwalk This nonprofit dedicates its walks and work to educating and enlightening folks about the importance of our coastal habitats. Featuring overnight trips up and down California, they plan a four-day tour of the Marin Headlands next month, Aug. 24-27, that does not include camping (most multiday trips are campouts). Indoor accommodations provided. $325-$465. To learn more about Coastwalk, call 800.550.6854 or visit www.coastwalk.org.
First Friday Artwalk The art-walk phenomenon hits Santa Rosa firmly as the downtown area, north to the Sonoma County Museum and south to Railroad Square, finds merchants with wide-open doors and artists in full flower. Look for the balloons that indicate which businesses have real live artists lurking. First Friday of every month from 5pm to 8pm. Also, look for street performers and free rides on Rosie the Trolley. Map available at information booth. Free. Courthouse Square, Third Street and Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa. 707.543.3737.
Fourth Friday Teen Artwalk From the "only in Santa Rosa" file, we learn there is curiously another new artwalk in downtown Santa Rosa, but on a different day. Why aren't the teen event and the city-wide event coordinated? Only in Santa Rosa, the town where the left hand never knows what the right hand is doing. Launching its inaugural event this Friday, July 28, the Teen Artwalk is slated for the fourth Friday of the month. Fourth Friday celebrates young artists just learning that art can possibly be a viable profession, and all proceeds do support them. Get about from 5pm to 8pm in Railroad Square, Fourth and Wilson streets, Santa Rosa. Teen artists who want to participate should call Christi at 707.284.2467, ext. 23.
Healdsburg Art Walk Healdsburg is exploding with great galleries, and this is among our favorite art walks (pssst: it has to do with free wine). The first Friday of each month is reserved from 5pm to 8pm for gallery openings, artist talks and general gaiety. Maps are available at participating galleries and tasting rooms. Go ahead and begin at the Plaza Arts, 130 Plaza St., Healdsburg. Free. 707.431.1970.
Healdsburg Walking Tours Take an insider's peek around this lovely town and learn about its history and architecture. All walks are easy and last 90-120 minutes. Daily at 7am, rise early for a downtown sneak preview. Daily at 10am, there's the vintage Healdsburg walk. Daily at 2pm, indulge in the artful tastings walk. Meet at the fountain in the downtown plaza. Reservations requested. Downtown Plaza, Healdsburg Avenue and Matheson Street, Healdsburg. $20. 707.484.6249.
Petaluma's Historic Downtown Costume-clad, docent-guided walking tours of downtown Petaluma focus on the town's history and the Victorian architecture. Walks held most Saturdays as well as the first and third Sundays of each month. Call for details. Meet at the Petaluma Historical Museum and Library, 20 Fourth St., Petaluma. Free. 707.778.4398.
Sonoma County Frontrunners LGBTQ folks are invited to get some fresh air and exercise each week at Spring Lake as well as enjoy camaraderie and make new friends. All ability levels and genders are welcome to run or walk every Saturday morning at 8:30am. Meet at the lake's main parking lot. Howarth Park, 630 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. Free. 707.548.5249.
Sebastopol Art Walk While the Art Walk is currently on hiatus, the organizing body, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, continues with programming through the end of the year, featuring special events at the center the first Thursday of the month from 5pm to 7:30pm. On Aug. 3, there's a meet-the-artist reception with fabric artist Tari Kerss, who is showing in the second gallery. Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 6780 Depot St. Free. 707.829.4797.
Sonoma Art Walk Sonoma is a great walking town, being flat and filled with drinking establishments and long, shaded benches. The first Friday of each month, the art community comes to the fore, when area galleries stay up late. Look for maps at galleries located around the downtown Plaza. Sonoma Plaza, First Street East, Sonoma. 5pm to 9pm. Free. 707.996.1033.
Sonoma Walking Tours Several historical tours take place each Saturday that are highly appropriate for children and emanate from the Plaza that centers Sonoma's community life. For instance, one can learn about Sonoma's history through the reenactment of General Vallejo's life. The Mark Twain tour includes historic buildings and stories of Samuel Clemens' life in the West. Saturdays at 10am, 11am and 1pm. $15; kids free; no reservations needed. Adults-only for historic saloon tour with Mark Twain, held Saturdays at 4pm. $20; reservations required. Sonoma Plaza, First Street East, Sonoma. Meet at Bear Flag statue for all tours. 707.694.5097.
Save the Date:Sonoma Fruit and "Flies." Sample delicious organic fruit as the Greenbelt Alliance leads a harvest tour of Gabriel Farm near Sebastopol, on Sept. 17, from 10am to 4pm. Then enjoy a tour and talk at nearby Hallberg Butterfly Gardens, a butterfly and wildlife sanctuary that is open to the public only by reservation. 3175 Sullivan Road, Sebastopol; $7 members, $10 nonmembers; reservations required. 415.255.3233.
Greenbelt Alliance This nonprofit, dedicated to saving natural areas from growth, helps to show off nature's beauty. Upcoming hikes include a members-only outing through the Marin Headlands ending at an authentic English pub for a leisurely summer brunch on Sunday, Aug. 6, from 9:30am to 3:30pm. (Meet in parking lot at end of Tennessee Valley Road, Mill Valley. $21 brunch, $10 vegetarian; reservation and membership required.) On Saturday, Aug. 19, explore Tolay Creek in the Napa-Sonoma marshes on the northern tip of San Pablo Bay during an easy nine-mile hike that boasts of amazing marsh wildlife diversity and spectacular North Bay views. Optional visit to a winery after the hike. (Meet at the parking lot on south side of the Highway 37 and Highway 121 intersection.) For details on all, call 415.255.3233.
Marin Agricultural Land Trust Organization devoted to protecting and educating on Marin's agricultural past and present hosts a raft of fun events, many of them including yummy things to eat. Upcoming events include a family farm day at Slide Ranch on Saturday, Aug. 5, from 10am to 2pm (2025 Shoreline Hwy., Muir Beach; $15-$60) and a tour of the wine and milk-making on Doughty Ranch on Saturday, Aug. 19, from 12:30pm to 4pm (Pt. Reyes Vineyards, 12700 Hwy. 1, just north of Point Reyes Station; $35-$45). For details on all hikes and activities, call 415.663.1158 or go to www.malt.org.
Marin Moonshiners Centered around each month's full moon, these easy three-mile hikes start just before sunset and take advantage of moonlight to brighten the way. Start at the Pelican Inn on Mt. Tam, make your way gingerly to the beach for a bonfire and roasted marshmallows, and then back up to the Pelican for perhaps a touch of libation and some continued schmoozing. Big fun! The next one is slated for Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 7pm. Pelican Inn, 10 Pacific Way, Muir Beach. $10. Call to reserve your spot. 415.331.0100.
Mill Valley First Tuesday Artwalk Downtown Mill Valley goes arty the first Tuesday of each month from 6pm to 8pm. Galleries include such notables as Robert Green Fine Arts (154 Throckmorton Ave.; 415.381.8776), O'Hanlon Center for the Arts (616 Throckmorton Ave.; 415.388.4331) and the 142 Throckmorton Theatre (142 Throckmorton Ave.; 415.383.9600). Free. For details, call the city of Mill Valley, 415.388.4033.
San Anselmo Art Walk The third Thursday of each month finds merchants and galleries opening to art, including changing shows at such venues as the Ross Valley Winery (343 San Anselmo Ave.; 415.457.5157) and the Green Fusion Design Center (14 Greenfield Ave.; 415.454.0174). From 5:30pm to 8pm. Free.
Sausalito Art Walk Now in its fourth year and going strong, the Caledonia Street neighborhood comes alive with art on the second Wednesday of the month through October, and not only includes art in galleries, restaurants, cafes and stores, but also outdoor performers. 5:30pm to 8pm. Free. For details, go to www.sausalitoartwalk.com.
Sierra Club Marin Ongoing hikes for all levels of outdoors lovers lead by Sierra Club members and naturalists. Thursday, July 27, at 9:30am and again at 6pm, the club offers an easy to moderate hike to Dipsea and Muir Woods. Carpool from Miller and Locust, Mill Valley. Sunday, July 30, at 9:30am, bring a lunch and plenty of liquids to share for moderate hike in Samuel P. Taylor State Park. (Meet to carpool at the Fairfax Parkade, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, opposite the Fairfax Theater, Fairfax.) To learn more or to reserve a spot, call 415.461.9255.
Calistoga Art Walk Learn more about the artists of Napa County during Calistoga's monthly art walk, held the first Thursday of each month. Follow the signs and view art with a strolling tour of shops and galleries. On Thursday, Aug. 3, the focus is on the art of the Calistoga Fire Department. Downtown Calistoga, Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga. 5pm to 7pm; merchants stay open until 8pm. Free. 707.225.1003.
Napa Artwalk The Arts Council of Napa Valley presents a monthly promenade and artists' chat at the popular Chef's Market. Last Friday of each month from 5pm to 9pm. Downtown Napa, First Street and Town Center. Free. 707.257.2117, ext. 102.
Napa County Landmarks Most Saturdays the historic area of Napa is walked with experts who discuss the history and architecture and colorful figures of the Napa Valley's last century. Tours move among Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville and Napa proper, and begin around 9:45am. Saturday, Aug. 20, however is something different. In August, the Napa County Landmarks association hosts not a walking tour but an inside tour of a specific home, the Elms in Calistoga. One of the few pristine examples of second empire Victorian architecture in the North Bay, it was built around 1871 by a judge for his bride; now it's a B&B. This tour includes refreshments afterwards and is $10; reservations are required. (Ordinarily, it's OK to just show up.) A self-guided walk booklet is available any time for just $3 at 1030 First St., Napa. 707.255.1836.