Santa Rosa Deserves Love

A bird’s eye view of the Links at Bodega Harbour

Like a Phoenix, Santa Rosa has risen from the ashes of the ’16 Tubbs fire. While visiting in September, we never saw a sign of the travesty though sadly they had lost three hotels, one winery, twelve restaurants, and many homes including Cassie Gibson’s grandma’s. By mere coincidence we just met Cassie and husband Cole, the general manager and son of Charlie, the new owner of Coldwater Golf Club, during this month’s Arizona Golfer course review. The family loved Santa Rosa where they lived for many years before relocating to our west valley. We too love Santa Rosa for the golf, wineries, nature and fun nature of all. 

The Links at Bodega Harbour, managed by Kemper Sports, sits on the northern California coastline that was made famous by the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “The Birds.” Today people, not birds, flock to the village for relaxation, serenity, and great golf. The Links is a shared design by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. on the front nine and Jr. on the back nine. A favorite for Cole, it is an hour north of San Francisco and a half hour from Santa Rosa. An eerie fog bank encapsulated the ocean side course as we set out on a cool morning. We bundled up, then buckled up for a wild ride on the bodacious Links at Bodega Harbour, where the harbor seals were barking and the fog horn was blowing. The first few holes play within the housing development then climb to an elevated hilltop with views of the harbor and beach. A protected wildlife sanctuary is cart restricted on two holes where boardwalks provide tee access and an egress from the green to rejoin your carts. Grab a few clubs and enjoy the walk. Ocean waves are heard approaching the 16th green. Peer over the berm for an incredible clear sea/sky view. The fog had lifted. 

Santa Rosa belongs to Sonoma County, which boasts 400 plus wineries. While Russian River is one of our favorite sources for Pinot Noir, kayaking with Getaway Adventures revealed its nature appeal. Our group had already cycled in the morning while we golfed, so we joined them at Ektimo Vineyards. The boutique wine was so impressive we ordered some for our anniversary. 

Kayaking paired well after the tasting. We all rowed gently down the quiet stream until the occasional encounter with flotillas of youths in tubes, all courteously waving us by. The leisurely trip down the Russian River past little encampments and water fowl is a special way to be at one with nature.

The Estate Tasting Room and expansive grounds of Kendall Jackson includes a demo vineyard. A statue of St. Francis (protector of animals) is the greeter at St. Francis Winery and Vineyards. A monastery bell tolls on the hour for all of whom partake. The patio wine and cheese pairing is enhanced by a view of the vineyards and mountain, which if ascended reveals the Golden Gate bridge. For alternative hiking, the Trione-Annadel State Park has over 5,000 acres and 50 miles of trails. Or, stroll the lush grounds at Vintner’s Inn, often busy with weddings. The family estate wine is Ferrari Carano one of America’s premier selection of wines. Dinner there at John Ash is an adventure for the taste buds. 

The Inn had full occupancy, so we stayed at The Astro, a newly remodeled motel disguising itself as a space age stop with down to earth rates in the up and coming area of Santa Rosa. A 5-minute walk leads to downtown where the Peanuts cartoon characters are positioned for photo ops here and there around town. Over 120 specialty shops, bars and restaurants avail. The innocent yet deep philosophy portrayed by Charlie, Linus, Sally and the gang is accentuated in creative ways throughout the fun and awe-inspiring Charles M. Schulz museum.

At least one night at Safari West is recommended for animal lovers. Glamping in the stilted tents with exotic sounds of birds and animals without flying 16 hours is a real treat. Conservation education is the name of the game here. 150 species and 890 individual animals are lucky to be here, viewed by foot and jeep safari. Owner Peter Lang valiantly worked with staff and then solo through the night to hose down flames from the Tubbs’ fire saving his creatures even while his own house burned. He met his wife on Safari in Africa. Perhaps it was animal attraction. All the attractions in Santa Rosa deserve love. 

Alice and Danny Scott are known as America’s Golfing Couple and travel the world writing for many publications. Visit their website at