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Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Cities and Towns in Sonoma County

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1. Which are the best cities or towns to visit in Sonoma County?

The answer to the question of which are the best cities or towns to visit in Sonoma County is simple — all of them, of course.

If your schedule doesn’t allow for that luxury, browse our list of Cities of Sonoma County to read descriptions of each. Then decide whether you prefer to visit some of the coastal villages, Russian River resort towns, vineyard communities, or urban centers that create the marvelous diversity of Sonoma County.

2. Which towns are walkable in Sonoma County?

Most towns are walkable in Sonoma County. It all depends on what you want to discover.

You’ll find boutiques, restaurants, and tasting rooms surrounding a historic downtown plaza in both Healdsburg and Sonoma. In downtown Petaluma, well preserved historic buildings house an engaging mix of boutiques, antique shops, and specialty stores. And at the crossroads of two highways, the dynamic community of Sebastopol includes a mix of shops and restaurants in its downtown plus the new highly walkable center known as The Barlow.

Tucked amid redwoods and farmlands, the small town of Occidental packs a lot into its two-block long main street. So does tiny Geyserville, where Wild West storefronts and wooden boardwalks recall bygone days in northern Sonoma County.

In the Russian River Valley, charmingly rustic main street Guerneville offers both a laid-back river-town attitude and a growing foodie restaurant scene. And although Santa Rosa is a big city, its historic Railroad Square District is delightful and eminently walkable.

Of course, that’s just a quick sampling. Check our list of the Cities of Sonoma County for more details and other options.

3. Which towns are close to wineries in Sonoma County?

With more than 425 wineries countywide, almost all Sonoma County towns are close to wineries — but some are a bit closer than others.

In northern Sonoma County, Cloverdale, Geyserville, and Healdsburg are nestled in the heart of several different acclaimed wine regions. In eastern Sonoma County, the vineyards and wineries of the lush Sonoma Valley surrounds the towns of Sonoma, Glen Ellen, and Kenwood. And along the Russian River, you’ll find wineries and tasting rooms in and around the towns of Forestville and Guerneville.

For more possibilities, check our listings of the Cities of Sonoma County and all Sonoma County Wineries.

4. Where are the historic towns and sites in Sonoma County?

Historic towns and sights are found throughout Sonoma County. On the coast, explore a former Russian trapping colony at Fort Ross. Then experience life on a Mexican Rancho at the Petaluma Adobe.

Step back in time at the Sonoma State Historic Park, which includes the last and northernmost of the California missions. The town of Sonoma also includes California’s oldest commercial winery, and you’ll find interesting wine history museums at the Buena Vista and Bartholomew Park wineries

Explore the life of famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank at the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens in Santa Rosa and his Experiment Farm in Sebastopol. You’ll also find local historic sites and museums in most Sonoma County communities

5. Which are the most charming villages in Sonoma County?

A list of the most charming villages in Sonoma County will depend on your tastes.

On the coast, Bodega Bay, Jenner, The Sea Ranch, and Gualala offer cozy restaurants and shops against a stunning ocean backdrop. Along the Russian River, Duncans Mills and Geyserville both pack a lot into a few blocks; so does Graton, a former apple-packing town in western Sonoma County. And on a slightly larger scale, Healdsburg and Sonoma are both centered on charming historic plazas, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. For more ideas, read the descriptions in our list of the Cities of Sonoma County.

6. Which towns are off the beaten path in Sonoma County?

Exploring towns off the beaten path is one of the delights of Sonoma County.

Snuggled between Sebastopol and the coast, tiny Freestone anchors the southern end of the scenic Bohemian Highway; fans drive out of their way to get baked goods from Freestone’s Wild Flour Bread bakery. And if you wind your way north on the 10-mile-long Bohemian Highway, you’ll encounter the village of Occidental at the highway’s mid-point, and the charmingly funky river town of Monte Rio at the highway’s northern end.

But before heading north, don’t overlook Graton, a former apple canning town with a delightful block-long “downtown” just northwest of Sebastopol, or the hamlet of Bodega, just off Coast Highway 1 about five miles inland from the coastline.

After you reach the northern end of the Bohemian Highway, be sure to wind your way far up into the hills above the Russian River to the village of Cazadero, with its 100-year-old general store and the renowned Raymond’s Bakery, all sheltered by towering redwood trees.

And don’t forget to check our list of the Cities of Sonoma County to find more places to explore.

7. Which are the traditional wine country towns in Sonoma County?

A list of traditional wine country towns in Sonoma County has to start with Sonoma in the Sonoma Valley, known as the birthplace of the California wine industry. Centered around a historic main plaza, the town of Sonoma is home to the Buena Vista Winery, California’s oldest commercial winery, and is rich in wine history and tradition.

Wine industry roots also run deep in Healdsburg, which lies at the juncture of three acclaimed winegrowing regions (the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley). Wine tasting rooms are clustered within walking distance of the town’s historic central plaza, and even more wineries are just a short drive away.

Of course, other Sonoma County towns are deeply steeped in wine history and traditions; check our list of the Cities of Sonoma County.

8. How can I find a map of all cities in Sonoma County?

See all Sonoma County cities and towns online on our interactive Sonoma County & Sonoma Wineries Map. Or, if you prefer a paper map, order a copy of the Sonoma Wine Country Wine and Visitors Map.

Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley.

 

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