Things to do in Sonoma County
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.
The northernmost winery in Sonoma County, Peay Vineyards is located on 53 hillside acres overlooking a river gorge, just four miles from the Pacific Ocean.
Paddle 10 miles downriver from Forestville to Guerneville, past redwood trees and blue herons. $60 per canoe
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.
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.
With 85 acres of vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley, this small production winery has been family owned and operated for four generations.
The Rio Theater, which appears in the form of a gigantic Quonset hut along Sonoma County’s winding Highway 116, has an Art Deco façade and a mural depicting the nearby Pacific, including forest and whales.
Toad Hollow's tasting room boasts an unstuffy atmosphere and intriguing no-oak Chardonnay.
Designed for home chefs rather than restaurant professionals, this cooking school has a great range of short-format courses to help you brush up on (or develop) your kitchen skills.
A bit off the beaten path but worth the detour, this boutique family-owned winery west of Sonoma (it’s about 40 minutes from downtown by car) offers some of the best sparkling wines in California.
Named “Artisan Winery of the Year” by Wine & Spirits magazine in just its third year of production, this family-run company produces limited batches of single-vineyard Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel.