Sonoma Wine Country may be famous for wine tasting and spas, but there is more to Wine Country than that. And Windsor (pop. 26,801), in northern Sonoma County, shows that the small towns of this region hold surprises for visitors.
Sooner or later, visitors to Windsor will end up at Café Noto (630 McClelland Drive, Windsor, 707-836-1830). The locally-owned coffee shop, at the eastern end of the Town Green, is where visitors stand in line with locals, where artists meet customers, high-school kids do their homework, young moms convene with their babies, and where a conversation about farming spreads from one table to the next.
The coffee shop represents what Windsor is about. The town, and it is officially always going to be a “town” because of decree from the Town Council, sits between better-known Healdsburg (pop. 11,541) and larger Santa Rosa (pop. 170,685). The former has the glitz and the fancy shopping; the latter has the airport and the major industry in Sonoma County.
In between, in Windsor, are families and farmers. The majority of the visitor attractions in Windsor are situated on the Town Green, a new-Urbanist experiment to create in-fill development that is pedestrian friendly. In the summer, the Town Green hosts concerts, movies and a farmers market. On non-activity days the large expanse of lawn sees kids playing along the fountain or in the playground.
The Town Green is home to some of the most diverse dining options in Sonoma County, with many great Asian restaurants (Thai, Vietnamese, Himalayan, Malay-Indonesian, and Japanese) next to barbecue, Mexican, an Irish pub, classic American diner, and even a deli inside a corner store.
And that’s just dining options – an ice cream store, gelateria (inside an amazing candy store) and a frozen yogurt shop provide dessert (and Café Noto carries baked goods like fresh croissants and scones, too.)
The shopping options are eclectic. Visitors go for the jewelry from local artists at Images (9061 Windsor Road, Windsor, 707-837-0160) and the fashion couture at Freeloader Boutique (9077 Windsor Road, Windsor, 707-837-0745). Locals check out the books at Pages Books on the Green (920 McClelland Drive, Windsor, 707-837-8665) and the bicycles at Windsor Bicycle Center (830 McClelland Drive, Windsor, 707-836-9111). And everyone seems to convene at Kaleidoscope Toys (9078 Windsor Road, Windsor, 707-836-8697) for its collection of thoughtful, playful toys.
Within walking distance of the Town Green are two hotels - Hampton Inn & Suites (8937 Brooks Road, Windsor, 707-837-9355) and Holiday Inn Express (8865 Conde Lane, Windsor, 707-837-0808). And within a short bicycle ride are vacation rentals at Windrose Romantic Cottages (6880 Day Road, Windsor, 707-836-0400), and Villa Terra Bella (8519 Starr Road, Windsor, 415-407-5229). There's also a time share resort, Worldmark by Wyndham(1251 Shiloh Road, Windsor, 800-867-2095).
There are many wineries to visit in the area around Windsor, such as Windsor Oaks Vineyards & Winery, J Vineyards & Winery, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery, Copain Wines, and Acorn Winery.