Sonoma County Travel Guide
With a focus on wine, food and natural beauty, travel to Sonoma County is all about the finer things. An itinerary of things to do in Sonoma County can—and should—be a food-focused one. Make a reservation at one of the county’s renowned farm-to-table restaurants for fresh, five-star meals prepared with local produce, meats and cheeses. Or, check out the farmers’ market in historic Sonoma Plaza to pick up the ingredients for yourself.
No travel to Sonoma County would be complete to without time spent at its vineyards and wineries, but, with hundreds to choose from, trip planning can be daunting. Several tour options are available, including an afternoon outing bike with Sonoma Valley Cyclery. Eco-tourists can check out producers like Benziger Family Winery, who use sustainable, biodynamic practices in their winemaking process. Sonoma County travelers also have easy access to the great outdoors. Stand in the shade of old growth tree in the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve or set up camp in Sugarloaf State Park. Water-lovers can kayak along the Russian River or catch a glimpse of California’s North Coast at Sea Ranch.
Affiliated with Barndiva, Artists & Farmers carries artisan-made objets such as quilts stitched from antique saris and burled-wood bowls.
Howard Backen’s barnlike complex near the town of Sonoma houses several salons and lounges; choose between a flight of four, a five-course food-and-wine pairing, or a picnic by the pond.
Since opening in 2004, Cornerstone's Gardens has drawn international acclaim from publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Garden Design magazine.
The place is a local institution for dense and crusty sourdough loaves.
Tony Magee, who started brewing in his Lagunitas garage, has slowly built his company into a craft brew destination.
The shop provides rentals, maps of bikeable wine routes, and sage advice about getting around the region on two wheels.
As one of the larger producers in Sonoma, this winery is big enough to be split between two different sites: Villa Fiore, an Italian-inspired structure makes exclusively white wine, while the Mountain Winery Estate at 1,200 feet elevation makes the reds.
Located atop Bell Mountain, this 335-acre winery is the creation of two lifelong friends: Christopher Medlock James and Ames Morison.
Independent and locally owned, this tiny coffee shop has now expanded to three locations, but the one just off the plaza in Healdsburg is the original. Inside the small space, tables are often filled with locals who come to sample the day's offerings, which are posted on a chalkboard.
The result of the construction of Warm Springs Dam in 1983, this lake in the coastal foothills of Sonoma provides flood control, irrigation for the surrounding vineyards, and recreational opportunities like hiking, swimming, biking, boating, camping, and fishing.
Family-owned for more than a century, the Martinelli Winery has a history dating back to 1887, when Italian winemaker Giuseppe Martinelli and his wife Luisa moved to the Russian River Valley.
Montana-based Zephyr Adventures has been running active trips for more than a decade, and recently the company added wine itineraries that bring travelers to such destinations as Oregon, Sonoma, Argentina, and South Africa.
Baksheesh focuses on fair-trade, handcrafted gifts from the developing world, including carved beechwood bowls from Haiti and djembe drums from Burkina Faso.
This winery’s Mission-style visitors’ center (dominated by an adobe bell tower that rings on the hour) is a lovely place to while away an early afternoon.