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In moments of distraction, my mind keeps drifting back to a hot and sunny, absolutely perfect day spent floating down the Russian River in Healdsburg, California. When we were planning our last trip, I was in touch with Beth from The Wine Road, an incredibly helpful organization and site for wine country planning and events. (They do my favorite event, Wine & Food Affair, in November. I want to go back for it!) When I told Beth that we wanted to spend a ton of time outdoors, she suggested River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips, right on the edge of the Russian River in Healdsburg. A couple of emails later, and we were booked for a double canoe for the Saturday afternoon of our stay.

River's Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

Our first impression of River’s Edge is that everything is SO organized, making the trip smooth and worry free. They had coolers, trash bags, cords for holding items in the canoe, even hair ties, available for us to borrow for the day; when you are not local it is always helpful to not have to go get everything separately! They also take your keys before you head out to the river, handy for them for keeping the parking lot organized, handy for you if your canoe happens to tip over!

We started our journey on a school bus ride out to a remote beach. Our driver was hilarious and had everyone laughing before we arrived. Once at the beach, we checked in, learned a little bit about the river, and then we were on our way.

River's Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

River's Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

We didn’t waste any time and started paddling right away. Pretty soon it was just us and the fish below as we enjoyed gorgeous blue skies and perfect Northern California scenery. Due to the drought in California, parts of the river were almost dry, and in those we got out and carried the canoe.

River's Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

Russian River

Other parts of the river were deeper, but never much deeper than up to my waist or so. The current was slow, and so were we, truly taking the time to take it all in. There were some incredible houses along the way, all with stairs leading down to beaches, and I could easily imagine spending summer afternoons on the river and evenings at wine events. A girl can dream, right?

Russian River

About halfway through our journey, we pulled over and had a picnic on a secluded little beach. We brought Boont Amber Ale, waters, smoked salmon, hummus, cheese, crackers, chips, and salsa. It was the perfect light lunch before a little swimming to cool off from that magnificent California sun. I LOVED the dry heat we had for our entire trip.

Russian River

After we made our way to Veteran’s Beach in Healdsburg to drop off the canoe, we did a little more swimming and then headed back to River’s Edge to get our keys and head out. The trip even included a free ice cream at the end, a sweet and cold treat to end the perfect afternoon. The people at River’s Edge could not have been more welcoming, and their hospitality was what helped to make the day so special.

Many thanks to The Wine Road for all of their recommendations and to River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips for hosting our afternoon canoeing. We plan on coming back every time we are in Healdsburg!

For more on things to do and places to stay in Healdsburg:

Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza

Our Healdsburg Home

Wine Country Restaurants

September is also California Wine Month! The Wine Road has some specials happening. If you are in wine country, check them out!

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Tags: California, canoe, Healdsburg, kayak, outdoors, Russian River, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, swimming, Travel, vacation, wine country

I love all sorts of accommodations when we travel. My favorites tend to be more private though (like our incredible Prague apartment), so when I was invited to an event being held by Flipkey, I was definitely interested in learning more. The event ended up being canceled, but I followed up to ask about houses in Northern California. We had just purchased plane tickets to Oakland with the plan to spend five days in Healdsburg and surrounding Sonoma County. A few emails later, and Flipkey kindly offered to cover a portion of our stay so that I could review their service.

Using Fliipkey is incredibly easy, from its simple and clean interface to the straightforward search engine. Once you pick your location and dates, you can narrow down by price, amenities, location, and more, allowing you to find your perfect spot. We knew we wanted to be in Healdsburg or Windsor, so we zeroed in on those spots and found an affordable country cottage in a perfect location in Windsor, but minutes from the Healdsburg border.

Country Garden Cottage

Our Country Garden Cottage was located at the top of a long driveway that had grapes on one side and horses on the other. In front of the long driveway were vineyards for ages. The cottage owners also lived on site, but we had our own entrance and tons of privacy and quiet.

Merlot grapes

On the outside, there were beautiful things growing everywhere and beautiful views to match. The many flowers brought in butterflies and hummingbirds that we loved to watch while we weren’t out wine tasting and exploring.

Russian River Valley

We also made a point of being home for the sunset a few of the nights. It was so incredibly beautiful and peaceful to sit in one of the many outdoor seating areas on the property. Our hosts really thought of everything when they set up this guest home, and appreciated all of the comfortable details.

Russian River Valley sunset

Inside was even cozier. The cottage had one bedroom with the same view of the hills across the way, and it had fantastic dark curtains and the comfiest bed, ensuring a nice long night of sleep. Plush carpets throughout meant walking just felt nice.

country garden cottage

The living area was spacious and nicely decorated, and the house was complete with a small kitchenette with glasses dishes, teas and coffees, plastic wrap, and many other little comforts that we used throughout our stay. There were also magazines, books, maps, DVDs, and even some toys for younger guests. Country Garden Cottage is truly ready for its guests to arrive and start their vacations. Hanging out at night, listening to crickets, and loving the peace was what we needed; we didn’t turn on the TV or open our laptops the entire time!

country garden cottage

We spent every morning enjoying coffee with a view and playing with the resident animals, a beautiful white lab, a cat, and a bunch of chickens. I am pretty sure I was born to live in the country, wandering around growing things and hanging out with animals, so these days made me incredibly happy. . . and very hard to leave a place I already am in love with.




Our cottage owners provided us with figs and fresh eggs on arrival, and my vacation breakfast became soft boiled eggs and fresh figs. It was pretty much as close to perfect as you could get.

fresh figs

We felt so lucky with our Flipkey find, and just browsing through, it definitely seemed like there were a ton more great properties available. I think Flipkey rentals are ideal for a vacation where you might want your own space and an area to cook and relax. They are perfect for families, and it really seems like there is something for everyone. Now excuse me please while I go look at airfares so we can visit our Northern California cottage again soon. Smile

Flipkey gave me a portion of the cottage rental fee in exchange for a review of their service. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: California, Flipkey, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, Travel, travel blog, vacation, vacation rentals, wine country

Throughout the summer, we’ve gone back and forth on travel and where to go on the few days off that we have. We want to visit so many places in New England – Block Island, Portland, Ogunquit, and Martha’s Vineyard – and we want to visit the North Fork of Long Island again. At the end of the day, since we do have a Sonoma and Napa trip coming up, we decided to do lots of little staycations in the Boston area. Boston is so beautiful in the summer, and there’s SO much to do in and around the city and within less than an hour’s drive. My family visited recently, and we packed a long weekend full of fun activities. If you are visiting Boston and need some ideas for Boston area day trips, I hope you’ll consider the below!

Assembly Row

Assembly Row – This new outlet shopping area is so much more than a place to pick up new clothes. It’s an ever-growing complex of shops and restaurants, with an arts market, a music series, movie series, and more. We visited Assembly Row to check out Legoland Discovery Center, which is a hit with kids and adults. Unfortunately, adults can’t visit without kids, except for during special nights, so grab a niece or nephew or friend’s kid if you don’t have one of your own! It’s a pricy attraction, but it is a bright, colorful, interactive spot. The area along the river next to Assembly Row is surprisingly peaceful, considering how busy the outlet area is, and it makes for a nice long walk or spot to enjoy a coffee or ice cream from the outlets’ many food establishments.


Davis Family Farm

Davis Family Farm


Davis Family Farm

Davis Family Farmland – This is another one for the kids, but as an adult, I have to say I am a huge fan. The farm is full of baby animals that guests can play with, feed, and brush. Pony rides are available, along with a play area with fake storefronts, a “fishing” area, and an entire spray park. Our nieces and nephews love Davis Family Farmland, and at just about an hour’s drive from Boston, it is really a great way to spend a Boston staycation.

Boston Harbor Cruises Whale Watch

whale watching in Boston

Whale watching out of Boston Harbor with Boston Harbor Cruises – While my family was visiting, I decided last minute to take an additional day off to go whale watching out of Boston with them. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The weather was perfect, and we saw over 15 whales, who kept dancing and jumping around for us. Seeing my niece and nephew light up with each whale sighting was magical. Whale watching is something all ages can enjoy; it is an awesome way to be out on the water and experience the wonder of the nature that surrounds us.

Hull Harbor Illumination


Hull, Mass

Hull Harbor Illumination and Hull in general – Hull is a beautiful little coastal town with some fun restaurants, beautiful, clean beaches, and friendly people. It’s an easy spot to fit in your beach time without sitting in Cape traffic. Hingham is a great stop along the way where you can find some fancier restaurants like Tosca for a post-beach date. We love spending time in Hull and Hingham, and if you love the coast and don’t feel like traveling far, these towns make a great day trip from Boston.

And while I am on the topic of Boston travel, I will give a quick shout out to the beautiful hotel I work at! The Royal Sonesta Boston has some great packages, including a Summer Fest package which features free yoga, boat rides, and bikes. If you need a hotel in Boston or Cambridge, check it out!

We love to travel near and far, and we have definitely enjoyed the above trips over the past few weeks!

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Tags: Boston area, Boston staycation, family travel, Massachusetts, Massachusetts travel, things to do in Boston, Travel, travel blog, travel ideas, Travel Tuesday, vacation

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