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Trips
Winter Escape in Sonoma County: Wine Taste and Storm Watch in One Weekend

Winter Escape in Sonoma County: Wine Taste and Storm Watch in One Weekend

Escape to Sonoma County When I say ‘Sonoma wine country’, I know what you’re thinking: sun-dappled vines on warm summer days, a glass of rosé in your hand, and perhaps a charcuterie picnic al fresco. But guess what? Wine tasting by the flickering glow of a fire can be just as idyllic. And by planning your Sonoma County getaway in winter, you’ll avoid traffic, crowded tasting rooms and high room rates, too. Fly into Santa Rosa The Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport is the cutest you’ll ever see, and a breeze to get in and out of on Alaska Airlines. After flying in, rent a car and stay the night right in town, at The Sandman . Long a Santa Rosa institution, the Sandman enjoyed an upmarket refresh in 2017, and now basks in the glow of a retro, artsy vibe while still remaining blissfully affordable. On weekends, the pool bar will be open for a first night cocktail, and a dip in their outdoor hot tub is a must. Work out the next morning, enjoy your complimentary breakfast, then head out to…   Healdsburg This town in the heart of Sonoma wine country is a charmer, with a quaint downtown quarter featuring boutiques, bookstores, and fair trade stores you could lose yourself in for hours. After a leisurely morning (when is the last time that happened when you traveled with the kids?) head to Highway 128, where just outside town, you’ll find wineries featuring Sonoma’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon. We loved that we could get into Silver Oak’s new winery facility without a reservation, and their sleek, modern Leed-certified building showcased the vineyards with rain falling on the vines outside. Right down the street is Hawkes Wine , even cozier with a winery dog sleeping on a cushion by the wood-burning stove. From here, you can continue along the Alexander Valley to hit more wineries, such as Seghesio Family Vineyards or Williamson. We opted to keep driving, heading toward the southern end of the county to the namesake town of Sonoma. Here, we enjoyed another adorable town center to explore before heading to Cline Cellars , where we toured this eccentric property that was once a carp farm and then a horse ranch before growing grapes. If you’d rather stay in town, Sonoma boasts dozens of tasting rooms within its city center, allowing you to sample even more efficiently. Sonoma Coast Once you’re ready to leave the valley behind, head toward Bodega Bay on the Sonoma coast. Follow Highway 1 north, stopping as often as you like to take in the view. You may luck out with blue skies, but more likely, if you come in winter, you’ll be enjoying a crashing sea via a storm-swept vista. Either way, the beauty is stunning. Be sure to get an early enough start to arrive at Timber Cove Resort in Jenner, CA before dark. This property was built in the 1960s and while beautifully updated, it retains its rugged charm. The inn seems to blend into the wild coastline around it, with 25 acres of cliffs, hiking trails, lawns and gardens. Stay in one of their oceanview rooms with a fireplace and balcony, then plan on having a hard decision to make: stay in and open a bottle of Sonoma wine while enjoying the fire and the record player and records in your room (yes, really!) or heading to Coast Kitchen, located just past the welcoming bar, in the main building? We opted for dinner, which started with fresh oysters and continued with rockfish and salmon. The wine list is deep, the cocktails are smart and fun, and the ambiance is warm and cozy. In the morning, you’ll want to linger by the big fireplace in the lobby while enjoying breakfast, then hit the trails either on-property or at nearby Salt Point State Park or Fort Ross State Park. Or, just stay in and read by the fire or enjoy a game of bocce ball outside by the ocean if the weather is clear. We recommend staying at least two nights to fully soak it all in before heading back to Santa Rosa! Managing editor at Twist Travel Magazine, Amy Whitley has been a travel writer, editor, and columnist since 2009. Amy publishes the family travel website Pit Stops for Kids, writes monthly for US News Travel and additional national outlets, is a travel and outdoor gear reviewer and influencer, and is an editor at OutdoorsNW Magazine. Shop Twist Travel Magazine Purchase print copies of single issues or subscribe and save!...

Trips
Springtime Dogsledding in the Last Frontier

Springtime Dogsledding in the Last Frontier

Springtime Dogsledding in the Last Frontier It’s midmorning near Fairbanks, Alaska, and I’m indecisive about my wardrobe. March is a bit bipolar up here, swinging between bright sunlight and a wintry mix of sleet and snow. I’ve got to make up my mind, though, since my comrades are already yelling at the top of their lungs that they’re ready to go. There’s 10 of them, and every single one is impatient to get on with the day, appropriate clothing or not. “Put on the hat,” my guide and friend Anita suggests, pulling up the snow hook. “It’s going to be a fast trip.” Jamming the beanie over my ears, I signal amidst the cacophony that I’m ready. Anita sweet-talks Sookie, leader of this motley crew, with a “Let’s go, Sugar Bear!” and we’re suddenly and silently sliding away into the frosted spruce and birch forests of the Goldstream Valley. It’s spring, the snow is fast, the daylight long, and we’ve got a team of sled dogs doing what they love best; run. While residents of the Lower 48 states begin making plans for gardening or baseball season come March, most Alaskans are still shoveling snow off their front porches. Winter at northern latitudes stretches out longer than most of us care to think about, but from the perspective of winter recreation enthusiasts, it’s pretty perfect. After all, if one can’t control the weather cycles, one might as well embrace them. Dogsledding is Alaska’s state sport, with deep cultural connections ranging from Arctic transportation for hunting to the famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race, a 1000-mile haul from Anchorage to Nome. It’s also one of the most popular attractions for the two million people visiting Alaska each year. Most of those arrive between the months of May and September, getting their sled dog fix through short kennel tours offering cart rides, or more expensive heli-mushing experiences high atop glacial snowfields. In March and April though, fewer tourists vying for a spot and more moderate temperatures (think 20 degrees above Zero rather than 20-below), families with dog-crazy kids wanting the real deal - huskies, mushers, and sleds with all the trappings - show up for a day or more of sleddogging the way it was meant to be experienced. Gee or Haw? Learn the Mechanics Dog sledding is a sport of science, and everything centers around these four-legged athletes providing the power. Visitors to a working sled dog kennel during the snowier months can have the chance to witness, and in many cases participate, in daily operations in addition to jumping on a sled. Would-be temporary mushers learn about nutrition (sled dogs can burn up to 10,000 calories per day during a long-distance race), sled construction, training, and dog care. Have more than a few hours? Consider an overnight adventure deep into Alaska’s wintry backcountry, where the enduring spirits of wilderness and human innovation meet in perfect harmony. Harness your team, hitch up, then mush through the mountains before settling in for an evening of hot cocoa while viewing the colorful curtain of aurora borealis from your sleeping bag. Know the Options Sled dog kennels serving winter visitors are generally found between Anchorage and Fairbanks, and operate through the end of March or beginning of April, depending upon snow coverage and temperature. Most are easily reached via rental car, but visitors should have a working knowledge of driving in snowy or icy conditions. If driving your family around a slippery road system doesn’t sound appealing, consider booking a tour that provides transportation to and from the kennel. Also important is the procurement of winter gear. Sled dog rides are chilly affairs, especially if one is riding in the “basket” and not moving around during the trip. Make sure everyone has adequate base layers and warm, waterproof outerwear, including mittens (they keep hands far warmer than gloves), hats covering ears, snow boots, and sunglasses to protect against the glare of Alaska’s famous midnight sun. Don’t want to purchase mountains of outerwear? Rent from Alaska Outdoor Gear Rental in Anchorage and send it back at the end ofyour trip. Tour Companies Salmon Berry Tours: This small company offers several dogsled tour options, ranging from day trips to a special Iditarod Sled Dog Race starting line event the first weekend of March. Planet Earth Adventures: With a 10-day adventure centered around the Iditarod and aurora borealis, this is a trip of a lifetime for race fans. Be prepared for adverse weather conditions, lots of driving, and an abundance of time with sled dogs. Kennels Dallas Seavey Racing: This four-time winner of the Iditarod now operates a successful tour business in Talkeetna, about three hours from Anchorage. Guests receive an in-depth tour of the kennel before mushing into the dense spruce forests of the Seavey homestead. Multi-day trips also offered. Dream A Dream Sled Dog Kennel: Tours range from a few hours to a three-night, four-day immersion into life as a sled dog handler/musher on the Dream A Dream campus. Longtime musher Vern Halter spends time with each guest, making sure they understand the complexities of mushing, Alaska, and the art of driving a team. Denali National Park Sled Dog Kennels: No rides are offered here, but those visiting the park during snowier months should absolutely stop by for a visit. These dogs represent the last of the Park Service’s working kennels, and winter is their time to patrol, haul supplies to remote stations, and, for the puppies, learn about life as a sled dog. Also a bonus: the park is never crowded in the winter, and Nordic skiing and snowshoeing here can be spectacular. Shop Twist Travel Magazine Purchase print copies of single issues or subscribe and save!...

Style
Best Winter Jackets and Other Great Ski Gear for Families

Best Winter Jackets and Other Great Ski Gear for Families

The winter sports season is upon us. If you haven’t already checked boot sizes and the wax level on those skis and boards, now is the time. Our ski experts have identified some great ski and winter apparel products to keep the entire family warm, toasty and looking fabulous on the slopes this season. Family Ski Gear Guide  Women’s Gear Helly Hansen Powderqueen Jacket It’s a shell, it’s a parka, it’s a cosy respite from the elements. What more can a lady ask for? This stylish coat also comes with powder skirt and RECCO (avalanche rescue detector) system. Safety, style and comfort all rolled into a jacket fit for a snow queen. • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Columbia Bugaboo Interchange Bugaboo means two jackets in one. Plus you get Omni-Heat technology for an affordable price. • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Hestra Gloves and Mitts Hestra has been making some of the highest quality ski gloves since the 1930s. Keep those fingers warm with classic glove and mitts that come in various sizes and choice of leather or synthetic material. All Hestra gloves are waterproof of course. They're certainly on my list this season! • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Men's Gear Craighoppers Voyager Hybrid Ski dads and older teens can use this versatile jacket as a mid-layer under a shell or on its own while strolling around the village or chillaxing by the fire. • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Buff Face and Neck Wear Buff's merino wool face and neck wear protection is the Alpha fabric for men. It brings comfort, warmth and contemporary style to all the skiing dads in our lives. Products are lightweight and fashionable for on and off the slopes. • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Kids Picks Columbia Bugaboo Interchange Jacket This jacket includes a micro-fleece liner and a technical shell, which can be worn together or separately. Includes Omni-Heat and Omni-Tech which keeps kids from getting overheated. Yes, it seems we have to worried about both hot and cold on the slopes! • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Helly Hansen Lifa Merino Underlayers  Keeping warm in winter is all about layering. Soft merino wool underlayers will keep kids warm, with no itchy, scratchy effects. The designs are playful and fun, and keeping the chill at bay will pay off in longer slope time. Always a good thing. • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Smartwool Ski Socks Let's face it, no-one likes getting cold feet. But it can particularly tough to keep those tiny tootsies toasty on a windy ski day. Soft wool socks keep toes warm and can help kids stay on the slopes longer. Let kids choose their own favorite color and design combinations from these cute high-performance merino wool socks. • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Winter Accessories TransPack Classic Ski Bag Never lose track of ski gloves, hats or helmets again with the TransPack ski bags. Each family member can choose their own bag to house all of their ski supplies, including boots, helmet, and soft items like gloves, toques and neck buffs. The bag can be worn as a backpack, leaving hands free to carry skis and boards. It's ski packing genius. • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES myBunjee Take one of our own writer's advice, learned the very hard way, and never lose your phone again. Use this ingenious device to secure your phone, on the slopes or anywhere at all. The myBunjee slips over your mobile phone and fastens to your ski jacket via its coiled bunjee cord. Can also be attached to belt loops or handbags, and makes for great gifts for teens with slippery hands. • CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES Claudia Laroye is a freelance travel writer and blogger from Vancouver, Canada. She specializes in family, adventure, luxury and wellness travel writing. Shop Twist Travel Magazine Purchase print copies of single issues or subscribe and save!...

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