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Frequently Asked Questions About How to Travel to Sonoma County

1. How to get around Sonoma County?

Getting around in Sonoma County is typically easiest in a car or other vehicle, because with 1,500 square miles of gorgeous scenery and charming communities, there’s a lot to see and do.

You can rent a car, hire a limo and driver, take a taxi, use a ridesharing service, or take a sightseeing tour.

Lightly traveled back roads and a growing system of off-road bike trails mean that exploring by bicycle is wonderful way to discover all that this region has to offer; check our listings of bike rentals and guided tours.

And there are public transportation options. Sonoma County Transit buses run countywide, and the new SMART Train (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) carries passengers on energy-efficient, clean diesel trains on a 43-mile route from the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport station in northern Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael in Marin County, where buses connect to the Larkspur Ferry to San Francisco.

2. What is the best way to travel through Sonoma County?

The best routes for traveling through Sonoma County depend on where you are, where you are going, and what you want to see.

Iconic Highway 1 winds its way along more than 50 miles of stunning Pacific Ocean coastline. From Bodega Bay in the south to The Sea Ranch in the north, Highway 1 lets you discover sandy beaches, secret coves, gorgeous rocky bluffs with endless views, and cozy coastal communities.

The two-lane highways and back roads that take you to Highway 1 are also scenic, each in its own way.

Bodega Avenue out of Petaluma takes you through the lush farmland of Two Rock Valley and Valley Ford, to Bodega Bay. 

Highway 116 takes you to Sebastopol, where you can choose to follow Highway 12 through the countryside to Bodega Bay, or to continue on Highway 116 along the Russian River Valley to Jenner, where the river empties into the ocean.

To explore the Sonoma Valley in eastern Sonoma County, follow Highway 37 along the northern edge of the San Pablo Bay, then head north of highways 121 and 12 through the fertile and picturesque Sonoma Valley, nestled between Sonoma Mountain and the Mayacamas mountains.

Of course, the central corridor through Sonoma County is the multi-lane Highway 101, a dynamic lifeline stretching from Petaluma in the south to Cloverdale in the north. Each community along the way has something special to offer, so be sure to take the exit ramps to discover the charming Victorians in downtown Petaluma, historic Railroad Square in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg’s central plaza, and so much more.

3. Where can I rent a car in Sonoma County?

To rent a car in Sonoma County, check our listings of Car Rental Companies.

And if you’re going tasting at wineries, craft breweries, or artisan distilleries, you might want to consider hiring a limo and driver or booking a guided tour and to be able to relax and leave the driving to someone else.

4. Can I get to Sonoma County by train?

Getting to Sonoma County by train is now a reality for at least part of the journey because of the new Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train system.

Plans call for SMART to eventually cover a 70-mile corridor from Cloverdale in the north to Larkspur in the south. Right now, the first phase of SMART carries passengers on energy-efficient, clean diesel trains on 43 miles of track. It runs from the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport station in northern Santa Rosa, heading south to downtown San Rafael in Marin County, where buses connect to the Larkspur ferry to San Francisco. For more details, check out our Guide to Exploring Sonoma County by SMART Train.

5. Where are bike routes in Sonoma County?

Bike routes in Sonoma County are fairly easy to find, because with 1,400 miles of lightly traveled back roads and a growing system of off-road bike trails, Sonoma County offers great treks for a wide variety of bicyclists, from beginners to dedicated cyclists.

Read our articles on Popular Bike Itineraries: Cycling Through Wine Country and Guide to Cycling in Sonoma County to find the best routes for your interests. If you prefer to leave the details to a local expert, check our listings of Bike Rentals and Tours to find both a guide and all necessary equipment.

6. What is the closest airport and shuttle service to Sonoma County?

The closest airport and shuttle service to Sonoma County are the county’s own Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS), in Santa Rosa, with daily flights on three major carriers; and the Sonoma County Airport Express, which runs between Sonoma County and the San Francisco and Oakland airports.

Sonoma County is:

  • 75 miles and about an hour and a half drive north of San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • 76 miles and about an hour and a half drive northwest of Oakland International (OAK)
  • 119 miles and slightly more than a two hour drive west of Sacramento International Airport

For more details, read How to Get to Sonoma County.

7. How do I get to wineries in Sonoma County?

The best way to get to wineries in Sonoma County is by driving, either in your own vehicle, a rental car, or with a guide/driver on a wine tour.

Covering more than 1,500 square miles and home to more than 425 wineries, Sonoma County is both extremely diverse and fairly spread out. Although Sonoma County Transit buses do run countywide, the routes do not typically go to wineries. Driving (or being driven) gives you the freedom to discover all that this area has to offer.

For more ideas, read our articles on Top Wineries for First-time Visitors and Guide to Food and Wine Tours.

Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley.

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