There's an incredible variety of fun activities in vibrant Sonoma County — which makes it difficult to trim a list down to just 10.
Bearing that in mind, here's a short list of don't-miss picks for special Sonoma County adventures available year-round.
The state-of-the-art theater, concert hall and lawn performance space has hosted such stars as The Silk Road Ensemble, classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing bluegrass with his Goat Road Sessions group, Lyle Lovett, and the Philharmonia Baroque.
There’s an on-site restaurant with white-cloth service (open on concert evenings or for special events), and you’ve got to love that the center has a recital hall named after the Peanuts character Schroeder in honor of Jeannie and Charles M. Schulz's contributions to the university and ties to the community.
Green Music Center, 1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, 866-955-6040.
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa
This recently renovated non-profit center hosts world-class performances of music, theater, dance, comedy, family programming, and renowned speakers, as well as nationally recognized education programs, contemporary sculpture, and many popular community events.
Enjoy Chinese acrobatics, stand-up comedy, a wide variety of music, ballet and other styles of dance, and informative presentations. Take a walking tour of the center's property, which is dotted with an extensive collection of outdoor art, including a stunning new sculpture garden.
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, 707-546-3600.
Graton Resort & Casino, Rohnert Park
This flashy, $825 million, 340,000-square-foot casino is heaven for fashionable gamblers, thanks to a dizzying array of games played in luxurious surroundings. Here are the stats: 3,000 slot and video poker games; 144 table games, like blackjack, baccarat and Pai Gow poker; an 18-table porker room; a high-limit table game room with private salons; a high-limit slots room, with $300 pulls.
For refreshments, the casino provides three bars and lounges: the G sports bar with 42 flat-screen TVs; the Sky with a 360-degree diamond-shaped bar; and the 8, a VIP lounge in the high-limit area.
Enjoy casual dining in four full restaurants: M.Y. Noodles by internationally recognized chef Martin Yan; gourmet Italian at Tony's of North Beach; dry-aged beef and seafood at 630 Park Steakhouse; and classic American and Mediterranean cuisine at the Daily Grill. Or check out the seven eateries in the casino's Marketplace, offering sandwiches, pizza, burgers, sushi, tacos, barbecue, and more.
Graton Resort & Casino, 280 Golf Course Drive W., Rohnert Park, 707-588-7100.
The Barlow, Sebastopol
There’s a treasure trove of shopping, wine tasting and dining at this 12.5-acre, 220,000-square-foot, $23.5 million culinary, art and shopping center in Sebastopol.
Set in a former apple cannery property at the southeastern entrance to town, The Barlow Is home to Zazu Kitchen + Farm, from chef/owner/Next-Iron-Chef-contender Duskie Estes and her husband/butcher John Stewart; Tamarind boutique women’s clothing; artisan wine-tasting rooms; Taylor Maid Farms coffee roaster; Spirit Works Distillery for handcrafted gin and whiskey; and the Woodfour Brewing Company, an on-site brewery and gastropub. Or browse through Wolfard Glassblowing, the Village Bakery, the Tibetan Gallery and Studio, and much, much more.
The Barlow, Highway 12 and Morris Street, Sebastopol, 707-824-5600.
Sonoma Cheese Trail, Countywide
Discover the actual producers of famous cheeses like Bellwether and Laura Chenel by following the Cheese Trail through Sonoma County.
Chart your course with the printed or online version of the official Cheese Trail map, for delights such as the Achadinha Cheese Company of Petaluma, where the 900 goats graze year-round on verdant pastures, supplemented by brewers’ grain from local breweries.
Some of the cheese makers on the map are open to the public on a regular basis, others are open seasonally or by appointment, and some are too busy making cheese to welcome visitors. Details about access to each site are listed on the map.
Find more info about the cheese trail and how to get the map.
Valley Wine Tours, Sonoma
Leave the winery expeditions to specialists such as Sonoma-based Valley Wine Tours. It doesn’t get any easier, with no driving required. And you can pick your own wineries or go for themed groupings like the historic wineries package, which is a full-day journey through Gundlach Bundschu, Robledo, Buena Vista, Bartholomew Park, and Little Vineyards wineries.
A picnic lunch is included between winery stops, typically with artisan bread, cheeses, meats, olives, insalada caprese, and cheese torta served on china atop linen.
Valley Wine Tours, Sonoma, 707-975-6462.
Wine Country Trail Rides, Healdsburg
Get to the heart of the grapevines, with a horseback riding tour of Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery (707-657-4837) on the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley. The stable here used to house Olympic-caliber dressage horses and is now managed by Wine Country Trail Rides, owned and operated year-round by professional polo player Rafael Hernandez.
The hour-and-a-half treks atop well trained, gentle, former polo ponies traverses the natural amphitheater of mountains dotted in heritage oak woodlands, natural riparian streams, and a Spanish-style chapel built in honor of the estate’s original owners.
Wine Country Trail Rides, 10300 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg, 707-494-0499.
Quivira Vineyards and Winery, Healdsburg
Get up-close with nature. First, wander the Quivira vineyard, which overlooks a restored stream that welcomes leaping fish during the annual salmon runs.
Other stops on this biodynamic-farmed estate include a one-acre garden filled with fresh vegetables and herbs grown exclusively for Sonoma County’s best restaurants (chefs stake their own signs in the beds to claim the crops); a peek at colorfully plumed heritage chickens pecking in the soil; beehives; and even resident heritage pigs that root happily beneath apple trees.
Go on your own or, for even more knowledge, reserve one of the winery’s environmental experts for a guided tour. Before, after, or even during, you can sip hand-crafted Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.
Quivira Vineyards and Winery, 4900 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-8333.
The winery's on-site museum is a must-visit. It details the long history of Sonoma winemaking from the time the park’s original villa was built in 1861, and includes a display of primitive agricultural tools.
The 400-acre estate begs to be hiked, offering well-groomed trails lined with oaks, Manzanita, madrone, and redwood groves amid meadows of seasonal wildflowers.
Bartholomew Memorial Park, 1695 Castle Road, Sonoma, 707-938-2244.
Sonoma County Farm Trails, Countywide
Explore Sonoma County's agricultural heritage and experience life on the farm with sheep, llamas, honey bees, butterflies, and more as you visit the places listed on the Farm Trails map.
Members of Sonoma County Farm Trails have opened their farms and ranches to the public for more than 40 years, and the tradition continues. The adventures change with the season, and can include baby animals and fields of flowers in the spring; picking berries in the warm summer sun; exploring apple orchards and pumpkin patches in the fall; and cutting down the perfect Christmas tree over the holidays.
Search the live online Farm Trails map by product, feature, region, growing method, or other category.