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An hour away from San Francisco, in Northern California, you’ll find three Sonomas—the city of Sonoma, the wine area of Sonoma Valley and each of that are located in Sonoma County.
The gloriously stress-free Sonoma County.
The well-known Napa Valley is the plain Wine Nation vacation spot, however Sonoma wineries are extra laid-back, cheaper, and quieter. Good for a weekend getaway.
Additionally, you will discover loads of issues to do in Sonoma moreover wine tasting. There’s a scrumptious cheese path, whale watching, lovely coastal walks, quirky artwork trails, beautiful Redwood bushes, and a lot extra.
On this submit, you’ll discover our tips about the very best issues to do in Sonoma County, the place to remain, and the place to eat.
There may be additionally a Sonoma map on the finish of the submit with every part talked about on this information.
The place is Sonoma County?
Head north out of San Francisco throughout the scenic Golden Gate Bridge, top-of-the-line methods to start out a visit.
Observe Freeway 101, and in lower than an hour, you’ll attain the historic city of Petaluma, an ideal place to begin for journeys to Sonoma County.
What to Do in Sonoma
Should Go to Sonoma Wineries
With over 450 wineries within the space, we suggest you slim your focus as we did to the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys in northern Sonoma Wine Nation.
The additional north we went, the extra rural and prettier the countryside, with quiet roads gently winding by means of the inexperienced vineyards towards a backdrop of hills, golden from the summer time solar.
Sonoma is various—from the winemakers’ approaches, to the soils by which the vines develop and the micro-climates created by the cool fog from the coast and the solar’s warmth from additional inland.
Each vineyard we visited was very totally different, and that’s what we appreciated about Sonoma. There are many small, down-to-earth, artisan winemakers and alternatives to expertise the extra upmarket tastings you discover in Napa, making winetasting a should do in Sonoma and top-of-the-line methods to benefit from the county.
These are three of the very best wineries that we visited:
1) J. Rickards
J. Rickards Vineyard isn’t one of many well-known wineries, nevertheless it turned out to be simply what we had been in search of in Sonoma—nice wine, fascinating tales, and a passionate producer.
We love small family-run vineyards, and J. Rickards is as right down to earth as you get—they describe their wine as “Darn Effective Barn Wine”.
Proprietor Jim is an unconventional winemaker who doesn’t adhere to any explicit farming philosophy. Specializing in doing what labored finest for his farm as an alternative of a one-size-fits-all method meant that Jim found sustainable farming earlier than it was modern.
Take a tour of the spectacular winery to be taught extra about their sustainable apply, then pattern their scrumptious Zinfandel within the rustic Tasting Room overlooking Sonoma Valley.
Handle: 24505 Chianti Street between Geyserville and Cloverdale within the Alexander Valley.
Hours: Open 11am-4pm Monday to Saturday for wine pickups and tastings, Friday and Saturday tasting reservations are required.
Our subsequent vineyard was down West Dry Creek Street, a slim, virtually single monitor tree-lined highway to Quivira Vineyards.
Quivira produces biodynamic wines, and their property displays their agricultural philosophy of recycling again into the earth every part that has come from it.
Their wines embody their homeland and, consequently, are extra distinctive and scrumptious due to it.
Additionally it is an ideal place for a picnic of their gardens filled with wildflowers, greens, and chickens.
Handle: 4900 West Dry Creek Street in Dry Creek Valley.
Hours: The tasting room is open 10.30am to 4.30pm Monday – Thursday by appointment solely.
For a improbable luxurious wine tasting expertise, we’d suggest Ferrari-Carano. It was created by Don and Rhonda Carano in 1981 and has grown quickly since.
The vineyard consists of 19 vineyards throughout Sonoma and Napa, with the spotlight their large Tuscan-style mansion with in depth manicured gardens, a present store, and two widespread wine tasting rooms.
We appreciated that the property was fancy however pleasant and unpretentious.
We took a tour of the vineyard, together with their attractive gardens, in depth wine cellars, neat vines, and even noticed the menus that had been featured at White Home meals.
Being a extra in depth manufacturing implies that they will produce a variety of wines, they usually produce 20-22 totally different wines a 12 months.
Every little thing we tried was excellent, however standouts included their flagship Fumé Blanc, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc that’s a cut price at $17 a bottle and the Chardonnay, which is a little more complicated and is a mix of 60 various kinds of Chardonnay grapes.
Handle: 8761 Dry Creek Street in Dry Creek Valley.
Hours: Tastings by appointment solely 11am – 5pm, final reservation at 3:30pm.
Take a Sonoma Wine Tour
If you wish to uncover extra Sonoma wineries with out having to drive, why not do that small-group wine tasting tour with Sonoma Wine Rides, who can conveniently decide up from trip leases and lodges in varied areas in Sonoma County. The tour prices $135 and contains three wine cellars.
For many who crave exercise with their wine excursions, try this Sonoma Valley Wine and Bike Tour by Sonoma Valley Bike Excursions. You’ll be able to select between common or e-bikes, and all-day bike rent is included at $179.
The Scrumptious Sonoma Cheese Path
There are lots of issues to do in Sonoma with out ingesting.
Sonoma County can also be house to dozens of artisan cheesemakers who use native milk from grass-fed cows to create small batches of cheeses that mirror the distinctive flavour of the area.
Like wine, cheese displays the terroir, or flavours, of the soil and the local weather, humidity, and surroundings of the place the place it’s made.
Marin and Sonoma Counties have created a cheese path to assist guests uncover the small cheesemakers within the space.
These are three scrumptious stops that we sampled on the path, with loads of choices to choose up the right picnic lunch.
4) Petaluma Creamery
A historic dairy farm, Petaluma Creamery was established over 100 years in the past and is the house of Spring Hill Jersey Cheese. Their massive manufacturing facility is subsequent to a store/cafe with pre-cut samples out there within the fridge.
The cheeses had been good sufficient, however admittedly as Brits, now we have fairly excessive requirements with regards to cheddar cheese!
As well as, additionally they make ice cream with a variety of thrilling flavours, together with lavender.
Handle: 711 Western Ave, Petaluma.
Hours: Open every day from 8am-5pm.
5) Epicurean Connection
Sheana Davis at Epicurean Connection makes her personal cheese which she sells by means of her beautiful store and cafe.
There may be a variety of native, natural and artisan cheeses and different connoisseur native merchandise. We had their small however scrumptious cheese tasting plate for $10.
We sampled a parmesan-like Two Rock goats cheese and the superb Nicasio Reserve that’s smelly and candy on the identical time.
Handle: 19670 eighth Avenue East, Suites A-B (4th Constructing within the again on the fitting with the Purple Awning), Sonoma.
Hours: Open for retail 9am-3pm Friday and Saturday solely. Additionally they supply Cheesemaking lessons Thursday and Saturday 12pm- 2pm, Friday 3pm-5pm. RSVP solely to attend.
6) Matos Cheese Manufacturing facility
Turning down a mud monitor to this cheesemaker, we reached the working farm at Matos Cheese Manufacturing facility with the pungent odor of cows and flies buzzing throughout them. Simply what we had been in search of.
Joe and Mary Matos are initially from Portugal, and after they relocated to California, they introduced the recipe for his or her native cheese.
The farm makes only one cheese, St. Jorge, a buttery semi-hard cheese made within the fashion of the Portuguese Azores. It’s terrific—creamy however agency and flavourful.
The Matos Cheese Manufacturing facility provides a splendidly no-frills tasting expertise.
In a small room marked ‘cheese manufacturing facility’, you ring a bell to get the workers’s consideration. Somebody will more than likely emerge from the again room filled with wheels of cheese and, with out fanfare, hand over cheese samples so that you can style.
Sadly, they don’t presently supply excursions of their farmstead and ensure you convey money in individual. Nonetheless, you possibly can alternatively order on-line for pickup.
Handle: 3669 Llano Street, Santa Rosa.
Hours: Open every day from 9am to 5pm.
Cultural Sonoma Points of interest
7) Uncover Quirky Junk Artwork on Florence Ave Sebastopol
In Sebastopol, a hidden gem of a small city, you should definitely head over to the residential suburban avenue of Florence Avenue. There you’ll unexpectedly discover massive vibrant metallic sculptures lining the entrance of everybody’s entrance backyard.
These pleasant sculptures are all constructed from junk metallic and located objects and are the work of artists Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent.
The artists additionally reside on the road themselves, and you may simply spot which home belongs to them. Search for the embellished automobile exterior!
Taking a strolling tour of those quirky artworks is certainly one of the vital enjoyable issues to do in Sonoma.
Discover out extra concerning the artists and tips about visiting Florence Avenue.
8) Discover Vibrant Cultural Sebastapol
Past Florence Avenue, Sebastopol has a lot extra to supply, and it’s worthwhile to spend a while within the city.
Sebastopol was a hippie hub within the Sixties, and the group declared it a “Nuclear Free Zone”. They put in an indication proudly stating so which you’ll nonetheless see downtown.
Now, it’s arguably the dynamic inventive coronary heart of Sonoma.
It might be a small city, nevertheless it packs in lots to discover, from craft breweries, wine tasting rooms, clothes boutiques, and artwork galleries to thrilling eating places.
It nonetheless retains its unbiased vibe, insisting that each one city tenants are locals and has a fierce producer-driven group.
Sonoma Outside Actions
9) Go Whale Watching at Bodega Head
Probably the greatest actions in Sonoma is to look at the annual north to south migration of gray whales at Bodega Head.
Bodega Head is a rocky peninsula that varieties the doorway to Bodega Harbour.
Alongside the coast, fog provides to the atmospheric impact of the cliffs tumbling into the ocean on one facet and eerie moors on the opposite.
January is the height time to wrap up heat along with your binoculars to identify these majestic creatures, however you possibly can nonetheless spot moms with their calves as late as Might.
The West Path free automobile park cliffs are a well-liked vacation spot to look at the whales swim by.
Even should you don’t spot any whales or go to the peninsula exterior of winter, Bodega Head is a calming place to cease and watch fishing boats go by and admire the spectacular views.
10) Take a Hike in Sonoma Coast State Park
Bodega Head can also be a part of the Sonoma Coast State Park, stretching 17 miles alongside the Northern California coast from San Francisco and Mendocino.
The dramatic shoreline provides a number of the finest mountain climbing in Sonoma County, with miles of trails alongside the headlands previous hidden sandy coves, vibrant wildflowers, and panoramic views.
The accessible Bodega Head Path is a 1.7-mile loop that takes you previous the boat launch at Bodega Harbour, over the beautiful cliffs at Bodega Bay and exquisite small seashores. Take care as it could actually get windy alongside the shoreline.
We didn’t get an opportunity on our final go to, however we’re eager to return to stroll the rugged coast extra with these trails.
A enjoyable truth for movie buffs, the Potter Schoolhouse the place Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) was filmed is a couple of miles inland from Bodega Bay. It’s now privately owned, so please be respectful, however price a facet journey for movie historical past lovers.
11) Uncover Your New Favorite Secluded Seaside
Nestled between the mouth of the Russian River and Bodega Bay, alongside the rugged shoreline, you’ll find many secluded coves and sprawling sandy seashores.
The mornings will begin cool and misty, however the seashores are heat and ideal for picnicking and strolling by the afternoon.
The Sonoma Coast State Park seashores are for individuals who love exploration, coastal hikes, steep dunes and dramatic coastlines, with some coves and seashores with tidepools excellent for households.
Solely skilled surfers ought to take into consideration venturing into the waters.
Beautiful seashores embrace Goat Rock Seaside, famed for being a movie location for The Goonies, and Salmon Creek Seaside, the place the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean.
Learn extra Sonoma seaside ideas.
12) Stroll Amongst Big Redwood Timber
North of the Russian River and close to the city of Guerneville, you’ll find the Armstrong Redwoods State Pure Reserve with its small grove of majestic redwood bushes.
Strolling by means of the large redwoods is immediately revitalising, with the candy, woodsy odor of the bushes someway soothing.
Redwoods are the tallest dwelling issues now we have on the planet. The Parson Jones Tree is the tallest within the Armstrong Grove at 310 toes, and the famed Colonel Armstrong Tree is the oldest at 1400 years previous.
After all, latest wildfires haven’t been form to the State Reserve, with the Giants subjected to the Walbridge wildfire in 2020.
Extremely the Redwoods proved remarkably resilient, and after a interval of closure for rehabilitation, the character reserve reopened to the general public. Scarring remains to be evident, however the bushes have regenerated fantastically.
There are straightforward quick trails to observe in Armstrong Redwoods to admire the bushes however observe that the longer loops are nonetheless closed for security.
Why not mix a go to to the Armstrong Redwoods with wine tasting with this glorious Redwoods and Wine Tasting Tour from San Francisco courtesy of Finest Bay Space Excursions, at $179pp.
Different High Issues to Do in Sonoma Valley
13) Take a Tour of Sonoma’s Historic Websites
Given its location, Sonoma County has an extended, wealthy and engaging historical past. An excellent beginning place is the city of Sonoma, the birthplace of the State of California.
Inside the city, you will note the six historic points of interest of Sonoma State Historic Park: Mission San Francisco Solano, the Blue Wing Inn, Sonoma Barracks, the Toscano Lodge, the Servants Quarters (the stays of La Casa Grande), and Basic Vallejo’s Dwelling.
The landmarks are all unfold in downtown Sonoma, close to the historic Sonoma Plaza, which is ideal for a strolling tour.
Why not mix your historical past lesson with exploring the very best food and drinks Sonoma has to supply with this small guided tour by Sonoma Meals Tour?
The place to Eat in Sonoma
14) Take pleasure in Wonderful Farm-to-Desk Delicacies
As you’d count on throughout Sonoma County, with its many unbiased producers and vibrant farming communities, you possibly can take pleasure in glorious farm to desk delicacies even within the smallest cities.
Listed here are simply a few of our favourites:
- Downtown Bakery, Healdsburg – We first tried the Downtown Bakery merchandise on the Ferry Constructing farmer’s market in San Francisco and appreciated them a lot that we sought them out whereas in Sonoma. We love the ache au chocolate and sticky buns, and the bread seems improbable.
- Wild Flour Bread, Freestone – A should cease on the best way to Bodega with unbelievable apple, rhubarb, and lavender vegan scones plus an array of scrumptious bread.
- Diavola, Geyserville – One of the best pizza we’ve had since we had been in Italy. We completed our first pizza (the spicy Inferno) and had been severely tempted to order a second. Diavola makes use of native elements and has some improbable salads too—the oven-roasted beets with feta and rocket had been fantastic.
- John Ash, Santa Rosa – This connoisseur restaurant is positioned at Vintner’s Inn, run by the Ferrari-Carano vineyard, with views over the winery particularly spectacular at sundown. Every little thing was terrific, from the white bean crostini and corn muffins that had been served to start out, a zesty peach gazpacho, the heirloom tomato and arugula salad, and the garganelli pasta with saffron cream, asparagus and peas.
The place to Keep in Sonoma
15) Keep in a Historic B&B
We stayed at Hope-Merrill Home within the cute small city of Geyserville, which is near many wineries, so it makes an ideal base.
It’s a historic B&B in a stunning Victorian courting again to 1870 that’s been lovingly restored with vintage furnishings and silk-screened wallpapers.
There’s a big backyard, heated pool, visitor lounge and plenty of locations to loosen up, and the rooms are very comfy.
House owners Cosette and Ron are welcoming hosts, and breakfast is served communally at 9am in a eating room that’s like stepping again in time.
The house-cooked breakfast is scrumptious—ours featured oven-baked omelette, roast potatoes, popovers, home made cherry tart, recent fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice, home made jams, and native butter.
Different B&Bs in Sonoma
Listed here are extra highly-rated B&Bs in Sonoma on our want record for subsequent time:
- The Grape Leaf Inn – Situated in Healdsburg, certainly one of Sonoma’s most charming cities, this Victorian B&B has the right walkable location and contains complimentary wine tastings.
- Beltane Ranch – Fashionable rooms have attractive views on this countryside setting and meals comes immediately from their farm. Supreme for a peaceable getaway.
- An Inn to Keep in mind – Within the coronary heart of downtown Sonoma, this rustic stylish B&B has a lovely backyard the place you possibly can take pleasure in breakfast in your terrace.
16) Calm down in Luxurious at Vintner’s Inn, Santa Rosa
We additionally loved our keep at Ferrari-Carano Vineyard’s Vintner’s Inn, which provides a luxurious expertise.
With its Tuscany village theme, the lodge is a set of small stone buildings round leafy courtyards and fountains.
All rooms have balconies or patios to benefit from the views of the gardens and vineyards.
The rooms are so comfy that you simply gained’t need to go away with snuggly beds, sofas, and a jacuzzi tub.
A complimentary half bottle of Ferrari-Carano wine is offered in every room.
The onsite John Ash restaurant is improbable too.
17) Spend Some Time in Sebastopol
We stayed in a stunning Airbnb home simply exterior Sebastopol with an ideal tranquil setting surrounded by a big backyard of apple bushes.
One other nice choice if you wish to spend extra time exploring Sebastopol is Fairfield Inn and Suites, which has a pool and sizzling tub.
Seek for extra lodges and B&Bs in Sonoma County.
Map of The Finest Issues to Do in Sonoma California
Is Sonoma County Value Visiting?
Sure completely! Sonoma County has all of it: a relaxed wine vacation spot, scrumptious meals trails, quirky artwork, and exquisite state parks for nature lovers—all inside an hour’s drive of San Francisco.
Sonoma is ideal for day journeys from town nevertheless it’s additionally effectively price an extended keep. We’ve visited thrice and know we’ll be again.
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