Looking for the best wineries in California? The top beaches on the Northern California coast? Award-winning California spas and resorts? World-class concert hall? California redwoods? Here’s a brief list of Sonoma County highlights.
1. Taste wine
Sonoma County has more than 370 wineries to tour and taste at. Discover a new favorite at Francis Ford Coppola, Korbel, St. Francis, Kendall-Jackson. Or discover unique wineries with hidden caves, amazing vistas, historic legends, amazing food and wine pairings, and much more.
2. Attend a wine and food festival
Fabulous food paired with amazing wines tickle the taste buds and enhance your visit. Top festivals: Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Wine & Food Affair, Barrel Tasting. Check our calendar of events for dates and info.
3. Explore nature parks
More than 40 regional and state parks beckon travelers to hike through redwood forests, paddle along the coast, or just sit down and enjoy the sounds of nature. Must-sees include Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Spring Lake Regional Park, Annadel State Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (with the Robert Ferguson Observatory’s PlanetWalk) and Jack London State Historic Park.
4. Dip a toe in the Pacific ocean
Miles of pristine sand, rugged cliffs, scenic viewpoints, whale watching, and more give visitors reasons to visit more than 55 miles of amazing Pacific coastline. Visit Bodega Bay, Doran Beach, Goat Rock, Salmon Creek, Stillwater Cove, or Salt Point.
5. Unwind at top spas and resorts
There’s nothing as rejuvenating as a great massage. Resorts and stand-alone spas enhance any visit. Check out Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Kenwood Inn & Spa, Bodega Bay Lodge, Hyatt Vineyard Creek Inn and Spa, and Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary.
6. Eat gourmet local cuisine
Get a true taste of Sonoma County. Many restaurant owners either grow their own produce and meats or source them locally. Dine at such places as Zazu, Stark’s Steakhouse, the girl & the fig, Peter Lowell’s, Terrapin Creek, Madrona Manor, and Applewood Inn.
7. Experience history - Sonoma County is ...
• The birthplace of California’s wine industry. Self-proclaimed count Agoston Haraszthy brought cuttings from 165 of the greatest European vineyards to California. Considered one of the founders of the California wine industry, Haraszthy founded Buena Vista Winery and promoted vine planting over much of Northern California.
• Home of the northernmost and last Spanish-Mexican mission built along California’s historic El Camino Real.
• The location of the Bear Flag Revolt, which transferred ownership of California from Mexico to the United States. Gen. Vallejo’s home, barracks, and the Mission San Francisco Solano are all part of the Sonoma State Historic Park.
• The settlement of Fort Ross was established by the Russian-American Company, a commercial hunting and trading company. It is the southernmost Russian outpost in North America and, in 2012, celebrated the bicentennial of its founding.
• Petaluma, one of the oldest cities in California, has one of the best-preserved historic downtown areas, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Victorian homes and iron-front buildings surround this charming riverfront town.
• Author Jack London, “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang,” was a pioneer in the world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first Americans to make a lucrative career exclusively from writing. Visit his final home and ranch that is now as state park.
8. Enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities
9. Ride a bike
Sonoma County is known as a cyclist’s paradise – 1,400 miles of secondary roads and off-road bike trails. Go all out, attacking tough climbs or cycle from winery to winery on a tasting tour; Sonoma County offers you the best cycling experience in Wine Country.
10. Discover a vibrant arts scene
The acclaimed Green Music Center opened in 2012 to critical acclaim. This world-class performing arts center joins a palette of 30-plus performing arts centers, and more than a hundred galleries and museums. With 27,000-plus artists and hundreds of music and art events each month – ARTrails, Artwalk, art show openings – is it any wonder that Sonoma County is said to have more artists per capita than anywhere else in California?
A bonus highlight
Bask in the amazing California weather: Sonoma County’s natural beauty and moderate temperatures seldom dip below freezing, even in the winter. The area’s 25- to 30-inch annual rainfall happens primarily from November through April. In January, the average high/low temps inland is 58 F (14C)/36F (2C); on the coast, 56 F (13 C)/35 F (2C). In July, the average high/low temps inland is 90 F (32 C)/52 F (12 C); on the coast, 80 F (26 C)/48 F (8 C).
More highlights in What Sonoma County is Famous For: A-Z Guide