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TAYLOR MAID FARMS, Sebastopol
Erin Elo could easily call Taylor Maid Farms' Barlow Coffee Bar her "office away from work." The organic tea and coffee shop "feels very local," she shares, and she enjoys the atmosphere, which includes an outdoor patio, well-suited for business meetings and working on projects for the Forestville Teen Clinic that she manages. When Erin takes a break from her work, she likes to "watch families and other folk just enjoying themselves." (Photo by John Burgess)
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JACK LONDON STATE HISTORIC PARK, Glen Ellen
When Gary Saperstein isn't busy serving as the self-proclaimed "Gay Mayor of Sonoma" or planning travel experiences for Sonoma County visitors via Out in the Vineyard, the LGBTQ-friendly Wine Country tour and event company he co-owns, he's hiking the peaceful and serene trails at Jack London State Historic Park. "Such a beautiful place to just walk and hike through, either alone or with friends," shares Gary. (Photo: Erik Castro)
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THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER, Sonoma
Marketing consultant Manuel Merjil loves a great party and one of his favorite places to party is The General's Daughter in Sonoma. "It's a great historical structure in a beautiful setting," Manuel says of the home built in 1864. Manuel has many fond memories from the General's Daughter, celebrating same-sex weddings, the first anniversary of Sonoma GayDar, and attending Pizza & Pinot each Tuesday night with friends, sipping local Pinot Noir and enjoying wood-fired pizzas.
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PINNACLE & SHORTTAIL GULCH, Bodega Bay
Lloyd Davis was raised in a beach community in New York, which instilled his love for all things ocean. After a busy work week operating his Sonoma-based winery, Corner 103, Lloyd loves to breath in the ocean air in the community of Bodega Bay. "I love it there, and the beaches, especially Pinnacle Gulch Beach and Shorttail Gulch," he shares. When Lloyd needs to feel even more connected to the ocean, "I love sailing, too!" (Photo: Kent Porter)
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RIALTO CINEMAS, Sebastopol
"Rain or shine my favorite place is the Rialto," says Kevin Vanderhoff, wine club director at Iron Horse Vineyards. Kevin loves the diversity of the shows at the Rialto, which include Hollywood blockbusters, foreign and indie films. They also host the annual Sebastopol Documentary and OutWatch Film Festivals. "Plus, now they serve beer and wine at the concession counter!" (Photo: Alvin Jornada)
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MAXWELL FARMS REGIONAL PARK, Sonoma
When she's not busy with school projects or performing in local theater productions, teenager Cleo Avalon Rose Gorman, of Boyes Hot Springs, finds peace and solitude at Maxwell Farms Regional Park. The park has 2.5 miles of nature trails located on 40 acres of backcountry and plenty of places to play, including a playground and skateboard park. However, for Cleo, it's all about relaxing, "it's really calm," she says about the park.
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JACK & TONY'S RESTAURANT AND WHISKY BAR, Santa Rosa
"It's been our "place" for many years," shares Alisse Cottle and Jessica Borrayo, life partners and co-owners of Brew Coffee & Beer House, "the food and drinks are amazing." Located in Santa Rosa's Historic Railroad Square District, Jack & Tony's serves Modern American Regional cuisine focused around Sonoma County wine and of course, whisky - over 400 of them to be exact. Alisse and Jessica speak highly of the owner, Jack, and that they always find "good company" at the bar. (Photo: Press Democrat)
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THE RUSSIAN RIVER, Guerneville
"I have so many favorite places," expresses Angie Dillon-Shore, "but I think my top spot would be on the Russian River in a kayak on a hot summer day." Like so many Sonoma County locals, Angie finds peace and beauty in the landscape while floating down the river on her days off as the executive director of family-support organization First 5 Sonoma County. One of Angie's secrets to relaxing on the river: "my kayak has a cup holder that fits a jam jar of Sonoma County Rosé!" (Photo: Beth Schlanker)
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BREW COFFEE AND BEER HOUSE, Santa Rosa
Not only does Eliseo Rivas, Program Coordinator at LGBTQ Connection Sonoma, praise Brew Coffee and Beer House's "deliciously good food," but they also feel "comfortable building relationships over coffee with other LGBTQ leaders," when meeting at Brew. An LGBTQ-owned and operated business, Brew has become an iconic all-ages hangout for the local LGBTQ community and their allies. (Photo: Heather Irwin)
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ARMSTRONG REDWOODS STATE NATURAL RESERVE, Guerneville
Leslie Wiser's favorite place is Armstrong Redwoods, a primeval redwood forest in Guerneville. "There is something energetically magical about walking through a towering grove of trees that are thousands of years old," says Leslie, organizer of North Bay LGBTQI+ Families. She loves to take her children to explore and play in the redwoods, where they "enjoy a slower pace of life," to reset and recharge.
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MAIN STREET BISTRO, Guerneville
Comfort food, live music, and a warm, friendly welcome are three reasons why Sharon Hawthorne, broker-owner of ASK Realty, loves Main Street Bistro. Everyone from "forestry family good-ole boys" to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence dine and enjoy the classic cabaret vibe. Sharon describes the menu as "down home" and "hearty." As a single person, she "always feels comfortable" at the welcoming Main Street Bistro.
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GOAT ROCK BEACH, Jenner
"Relaxation and renewal" are two words that psychologist Dr. Den Reno uses to describe Goat Rock Beach near Jenner. Part of Sonoma Coast State Park, the beach features the giant Goat Rock crescent shaped rock, great whale watching spots, soft, sandy beaches and, during pupping season (March-August), a thriving colony of harbor seals. For Dr. Reno, Goat Rock "allows for an immersion into ocean sounds, smells, and a sense of the serene." (Photo courtesy of Bay Hill Mansion Bed & Breakfast)
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VALLEY OF THE MOON CERTIFIED FARMERS' MARKET, Sonoma
"It's my weekly go to for community, socializing, and fresh vegetables for the week," says Lisa Pidge, proprietor of The Laugh Cellar, Wine Country Comedy Club. The market, which takes place every Tuesday night on the Sonoma Plaza from May through September, draws thousands of visitors who love to relax into the evening with a glass of wine, live music, and fresh farm produce. "The market brings happiness to people from near and far which is a lovely reflection of the area in which we live."
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SEASIDE METAL, Guerneville
Between the fundraising, community building, and spreading joy, being a Russian River Sister of Perpetual Indulgence can be exhausting, endless work! When Sister Scarlet Billows needs a break, she heads to Seaside Metal for a Reality Czeck Pilsner on tap and "incredible seafood chowder." The cozy seafood restaurant has a divine happy hour, too. "All the food is fresh and made to order," Sister Scarlet shares, "Sit at the counter and watch the chefs prepare your meal." (Photo: Erik Castro)
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CENTRAL SANTA ROSA LIBRARY, Santa Rosa
A visit to the library in downtown Santa Rosa is time well spent for attorney Kinna Crocker. "Their selection of books is great," Kinna shares. Her twin eight-year-olds are big fans of the library, too. The two are "immersed" in the Harry Potter series and they love making a trip to the library to discover new readable favorites. While the book selection is expansive, Kinna also praises the excellent customer service that the library staff provides. (Photo: John Burgess)
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SPRING LAKE REGIONAL PARK, Santa Rosa
When Gary "Buz" Hermes isn't inspiring LGBTQ seniors to age gracefully through his work at Vintage House in Sonoma, he loves "glamping" and kayaking at Spring Lake. Campers can book ahead to reserve spots, which include lake views. After setting up his camp, which includes a luxurious leopard-print themed tent, he truly relaxes, "once I am settled, I forget all about the craziness of our world and any personal concerns and just totally relax and get inspired by nature."