Fall is always such a vibrant time in Sonoma Wine Country, tempting with hikes in the colorful parks and vineyards, shopping, wine tasting, and Thanksgiving dinners and activities.
Extra bonus: Be sure to check out great deals and discounts on lodging and activities in our Fall Harvest Deals.
Stock up on Thanksgiving Wines
The annual Wine and Food Affair awaits Nov. 4 and 5, 2017, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, with winery open houses spanning the Wine Road across Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. Most wineries will offer special savings on day-of-purchases (great for holiday gifts, too). Plus, you can plan your holiday menus, 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.
Thanksgiving Feast with Snoopy
What could be more heartwarming 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 1 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 18, 2017, rounded out with viewing the animated classic A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on the big screen, hands-on crafts, and games. Finish up with Cold Stone Creamery ice cream and eggnog from Clover Sonoma. More details.
From 4 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 18, 2017, downtown Santa Rosa’s SOFA Art District comes alive with the Winterblast on A festival. Join the party for open houses from the neighborhood’s 30+ art studios, street performers, giant puppets live music, fire dancers, and marching band. 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. More details.
Light Up Your Life
The 5th Annual Lighting of the Historic Sonoma Plaza starts at 5 p.m. on Nov. 18, 2017 with a spectacular display in the eight-acre park, including 100,000+ sparkling lights, holiday treats (free hot chocolate, cider, and cookies), and the acclaimed Transcendence Theatre Company performing a musical holiday tribute. More details.
Take a Hike
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. More details.
The 28th Annual Victorian Craft Workshop takes place in November 2017 (exact date TBD) 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.
Explore Fine Wine on Thanksgiving Weekend
The Heart of Sonoma Holiday Open House is an annual favorite, showcasing 15 wineries across Santa Rosa, Glen Ellen, Kenwood, and Sonoma. This year’s 33rd annual gathering from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 25 and 26, 2017 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. More details.
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 a Thanksgiving Day Buffet on Nov. 23, 2017.
The Day After Thanksgiving Party
Join DaVero Farms and Winery for the 6th annual TDAT party on Nov. 24, 2017, bringing tons of fun, wood-oven-baked pizza for sale from Rosso Pizzeria, olive oil samplings, and delicious wines. Play Frisbee, bocce, and romp with your well-behaved dog. This year, some wine sale and admission proceeds benefit Healdsburg Food Pantry. No reservation required; $10 donation requested per family. More details.
Sonoma County brims with independently owned boutiques. One great area to focus on is Santa Rosa’s Historic Railroad Square district, which sits on the west side of Highway 101 and stretches roughly from the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country hotel to Western Farm Center, anchored by a beautifully restored Northwestern Pacific Railroad Train Depot made of locally quarried stone (now home to the Santa Rosa Visitors Center / California Welcome Center). 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). More 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 Sonoma shops and garden center. Gather on Dec. 2, 2017 from 4-8 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. More details.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.