Get away without the hassle of getting away at one of these destinations that are only a short drive away.
African Safari Adventure in Sonoma Wine Country
It’s the closest you can get to Africa without needing a passport! Wildlife preserve Safari West offers adventure seekers a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience in Sonoma County wine country. Located on 400-acres in the scenic foothills of the Mayacamas mountains, there’s never been a better time to visit the so-called Sonoma Serengeti thanks to a new addition to the nearly thousand animal-strong family.
A nearly 100-pound bouncing baby Southern white rhino named Otto Lang was born in early April at the Santa Rosa animal park. Making history as the first rhinoceros born at Safari West and in Sonoma County, Otto is named after Safari West owner Peter Lang’s father, a pioneer ski instructor and Hollywood director and producer. After more than a decade of showing no interest in her rhino suitors, Otto’s mom, Eesha, met dad, Ongava in 2021. A tremendous amount of patience is required by veterinarians and animal caretakers when awaiting a baby rhino’s arrival — the gestation period for Southern white rhinos is 16 to 18 months.
White rhinos are considered “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to illegal poaching of their horns and loss of habitat, so welcoming a rhino anywhere in the world is important for the future of the species. Along with collaborating with the American Institute of Rhinoceros Science (AIRS) to improve rhino husbandry, Safari West is conducting internal research on the use of thermographic imaging to detect and monitor rhinos’ pregnancies.
You can meet Otto — along with an adorable zebra foal named Azkaban and towering giraffe calf named Grace — on a three-hour African Safari tour at Safari West. But for a singular staycation, book a night or two in one of the wildlife preserve’s glamping tents. Imported from Botswana, after a stay on the Sonoma Serengeti you’ll never look at camping the same way. Each of the 30 tents boasts private bathrooms with hot showers, cozy beds, hardwood floors, and decks with wildlife views.
Wine Country’s Bohemian Backroads
Sleeping outdoors under starry skies is magical, but anyone who’s ever pitched a tent will tell you the same thing — camping is a lot of work. That is, unless you plan an escape to Wine Country’s great outdoors with Bohemian Highway Travel Co.
Perhaps best known for its customized Sonoma County and Napa Valley day tours, the wife and husband team behind Bohemian Highway Travel Co. also rent posh, camping-ready Land Rover Defender 110s. Equipped with a roof-top tent with California King mattress, the Rovers come stocked with just about everything you might need or desire for your nature-loving adventure. Along with a camping grill, Yeti cooler, lantern, pots, pans, camping chairs and first aid kit, there’s an assortment of games like checkers and playing cards, a curated Spotify playlist, and detailed instructions on how to shuck oysters, along with an oyster knife and cut-proof cloth for safety.
“We’ve worked hard to include everything you may need for camping, taking the grunt work out of packing and cleaning,” says Bohemian Highway Travel Co. co-owner Allyson Weekes.
If your camp ground cooking skills are limited to s’mores, (no judgment!) consider adding on road snacks and farm-to-table meals — think beef stew with local root vegetables or a wild mushroom soup with roast chicken — prepared by a Sonoma County chef that’s conveniently married to a farmer. Even if you’re bedding down in a blissful spot in the middle of nowhere, the heat and serve meals make gourmet dining a snap.
Happy campers tend to head toward the Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts; Bohemian Highway Travel Co. has a list of recommended camping spots and are happy to make suggestions. The duo also provides a “Sonoma County Field Guide” that’s loaded with everything from history and fun facts, to a plethora of fun stuff ranging from hiking trails and farm stands, to wineries and restaurants.