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Top Things to Do This Fall and Thanksgiving

Sonoma Valley - photo by Eric Luse

Fall is such a vibrant time in Sonoma Wine Country. Now is a great time to take a hike in the colorful parks and vineyards, shop, go wine tasting, and enjoy Thanksgiving dinners and activities. Extra bonus: Be sure to check out these great deals and discounts on lodging and activities here: Fall Harvest Deals.

Note from the editor: dates mentioned are for 2015, please check back soon for 2016 dates

Talk Turkey

The Livestock Conservancy is an organization that supports heritage turkey breeds dating back to the Pilgrims. And it’s having its annual conference in Santa Rosa at the Flamingo Resort, Nov. 5-7 -- the first time ever it will be on the west coast. As a highlight, a turkey auction/dinner will be held Nov. 5, at Jackson Park Ranch, on Grange Road in Bennett Valley (next to Matanzas Creek, a K-J property), in conjunction with Sonoma 4-H/ Slow Food Russian River heritage turkey farmers. Stay for the whole weekend, though, for seminars on savoring heritage meats, cooking clinics, and building your own backyard food systems. More details.

Stock up on Thanksgiving Wines

The annual Wine and Food Affair awaits Nov. 7 & 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with winery open houses spanning the Wine Road across Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. And you can plan your holiday menus, too, since all of the participating wineries will have a favorite winery recipe available online, which they will prepare both days for you to sample, along with the perfect wine pairing. More details

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Celebration

What could be more heart warming than this family celebration at Charles M. Schulz Museum, where you and your loved ones can help prepare a re-creation of Snoopy’s Thanksgiving meal of toast, popcorn, and jelly beans from the classic television holiday special? The fun runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2015, rounded out with hands-on crafts, and games. More details.

Be Artful

From 5 to 9 p.m. on Nov 14, 2015, downtown Santa Rosa’s SOFA Art District comes alive with open houses from the neighborhood’s 30+ art studios, street performers, live music, fire dancers, and more. Free and family friendly, it’s worth a visit just for the rollicking, one-of-a-kind electric Sofa Parade that’s exactly what it sounds like.

Take a Hike

The Armstrong Redwoods State National Reserve spans 805-acres, in lush groves of 500 to 2,000 year-old trees towering to 350 feet (that’s taller than a football field is long). Breathe deep and savor the velvety quiet and solitude; the massive trees are often shrouded in mystical fog with swords of sunlight piercing through. For one of the easiest way to navigate, take the mile-and-a-half long round trip Pioneer Nature Trail over mostly flat terrain. Tip: Dogs are not allowed on trails, though they can join you in the developed picnic areas. Details

Get Crafty

The 26th Annual Victorian Craft Workshop takes place Nov. 15, 2015, just in time for holiday gift giving ideas. Set in the historic General Vallejo home and state park in Sonoma, it’s a virtual elves’ cottage where kids of all ages can delight in making holiday ornaments and collectables from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Refreshments will be offered, plus a visit from Santa himself. $3 admission; kids under 12 free. More details.

Get Holiday Happy

It’s the perfect prelude to the season, with Holiday in Carneros hosting an open house weekend Nov. 21 & 22, 2015.  The region’s wineries pull out the stops with wine and food pairings, barrel tastings, new release samplings, and chats with the winemakers. Find that perfect turkey pairing, and stock up on gifts, too. VIP tickets get extra goodies, too, like meeting the chefs, wine blending workshops, reserve tastings with the winemakers in the barrel room, chocolate pairings, and wine and Food Truck tastings. More details.

Explore Fine Wine on Thanksgiving Weekend

The Heart of Sonoma Holiday Open House is an annual favorite, showcasing more than two dozen wineries across Santa Rosa, Glen Ellen, Kenwood, and Sonoma. This year’s 32nd annual gathering from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 27 and 28, 2015 offers special wine tastings, the opportunity to meet winemakers, mingling in caves and cellars, and a great time to stock up on your favorite wines for the holidays. Most wineries throw out the stops, presenting live music, nibbles, and special pricing for purchases.

 

Spend Thanksgiving in Wine Country

What better way to connect with family away from all the hustle and bustle and the cooking chores! Find a great Sonoma wine country hotel or resort (or campground) here. For example, the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa is the perfect resort for a Thanksgiving getaway complete with Thanksgiving Day Buffet. Details

The Day After Thanksgiving Party

Join DaVero Farms and Winery for the 5th annual TDAT party on Nov. 27, 2015, bringing tons of fun, wood oven baked pizza for sale from Rosso Pizzeria, olive oil samplings, and delicious wines with complimentary tastings. Play Frisbee, bocce, and romp with your well-behaved dog. No reservation required. Details

Shop

Sonoma County brims with independently owned boutiques. Just one great area to focus on is Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square Historic District, area, which sits on the west side of Hwy. 101 and stretches roughly from the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel to Western Farm Center, anchored by a beautifully restored Northwestern Pacific Railroad Train Depot made of locally quarried stone. Dozens of stores range from Green Fish Trading (hand curated items from Asia), to Cast Away Yarn Shop (Malabrigo yarn and lace, hand spun and hand dyed in Urugua), to Whistlestop Antiques (delicate china tea cups). Details.

Get Ready for Snowmen and Santa

The annual Lighting of the Snowmen once turned into the launching of the snowmen, when the plastic characters were hurled across the highway by a slingshot into a vineyard. Another time, they were blown from a cannon. But it’s all in fun, for the hundreds grinning fellows set up at Cornerstone shops and garden center. Gather on Dec. 6, 2015 at 3 p.m. for music performances, pictures with Santa, classic holiday films in the Olive Grove Cinema, traditional German beer garden complete with men in lederhosen, gingerbread men to decorate, hot chocolate, face-painting by Popo the Clown, an assortment of kids' holiday crafts and games, grab-bag gifts, wacky holiday games, yummy savories, cotton candy, popcorn balls and, of course, to learn what will happen to the snowmen this time around.

Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.