Looking for the best wineries in California? The top beaches on the Northern California coast? Award-winning California spas and resorts? World-class concert hall? California redwoods? Here’s a brief list of Sonoma County highlights. Get the FREE Visitors Guide and Wine Map.
1. Taste wine
Sonoma County has more than 425 wineries for tours and tastings. Discover a new favorite at Francis Ford Coppola Winery (pictured), Korbel Champage Cellars, St. Francis Winery, Kendall-Jackson Winery. Or discover unique wineries with hidden caves, amazing vistas, historic legends, amazing food and wine pairings, wineries off the beaten path and much more. If you're new to the area, these are the wineries we recommend for our first time visitors, as well as the answers to our most frequently asked questions about wineries in Sonoma County.
2. Attend a wine and food festival
Fabulous food paired with amazing wines tickle the taste buds and enhance your visit. Just a few of our top festivals include Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Wine & Food Affair, Barrel Tasting. Check our calendar of events for dates and info. We also recommend checking out the biggest + best annual festivals in Sonoma County, these 4 Sonoma Wine, Food and Cheese events not to miss and our guide to all the festivals and events that take place in Sonoma County.
3. Explore nature parks
More than 60 regional and state parks beckon travelers to hike through redwood forests, paddle along the coast, or just sit down and enjoy the sounds of nature. Must-sees include Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Spring Lake Regional Park, Trione-Annadel State Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (with the Robert Ferguson Observatory’s PlanetWalk), and Jack London State Historic Park. Learn more about our Sonoma County California State Parks as well as our Regional Park System.
4. Dip a toe in the Pacific ocean
Miles of pristine sand, rugged cliffs, scenic viewpoints, whale watching, and more give visitors reasons to visit more than 55 miles of amazing Pacific coastline. A few places to highlight along the Sonoma County include Bodega Bay, Doran Beach, Goat Rock, Salmon Creek, Stillwater Cove, or Salt Point. On the Sonoma Coast, you can whale watch at Bodega Head (pictured), swim at a few of our great swimming beaches, take a peaceful beach walk, or discover the hidden gems along the coast.
5. Unwind at top spas and resorts
There’s nothing as rejuvenating as a great massage. Resorts and stand-alone spas enhance any visit. Check out Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Kenwood Inn & Spa, Bodega Bay Lodge, and Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary (pictured). Choose between rejuvenating at some of the areas top spas or staying in a wine country resort with a spa, to practicing yoga and fitness in unique ways in Sonoma County.
6. Eat gourmet local cuisine
Get a true taste of Sonoma County. Many restaurant owners either grow their own produce and meats or source them locally. Dine at such places as Zazu Kitchen + Farm, Stark’s Steak + Seafood, the girl & the fig (pictured), Peter Lowell’s, Terrapin Creek Cafe, Madrona Manor, and Applewood Inn. Here are some other great options to get your started on enjoying local cuisine:
• 7 Restaurants with Authentic Wine Country Cuisine
• Best Restaurants in Sonoma County
• Michelin Stars in Sonoma County
• Best Brunch Restaurants in Sonoma County
• Top 10 Fine Dining Restaurants
• Top Farm-to-Table Restaurants in Sonoma County
• Top Romantic Restaurants in Sonoma County
• 10 Restaurants with Outdoor Seating in Sonoma County
7. Experience history! Sonoma County is ...
• The birthplace of California’s wine industry. Self-proclaimed count Agoston Haraszthy brought cuttings from 165 of the greatest European vineyards to California. Considered one of the pioneersof the California wine industry, Haraszthy founded Buena Vista Winery and promoted vine planting over much of Northern California.
• Home of the northernmost and last Spanish-Mexican mission built along California’s historic El Camino Real.
• The location of the Bear Flag Revolt, which transferred ownership of California from Mexico to the United States. Gen. Vallejo’s home, barracks, and the Mission San Francisco Solano are all part of the Sonoma State Historic Park.
• The coastal settlement of Fort Ross was established in 1812 by the Russian-American Company, a commercial hunting and trading company. It was the southernmost Russian outpost in North America and, in 2012, celebrated the bicentennial of its founding.
• Petaluma, one of the oldest cities in California, with one of the best-preserved historic downtown areas (it's on the National Register of Historic Places). Victorian homes and iron-front buildings surround this charming riverfront town. Spend a weekend in Petaluma with this 48 hours guide, and enjoy the culinary delights that the city offers.
• Jack London, author of “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang,” a pioneer in the world of commercial magazine fiction, and one of the first Americans to make a lucrative career exclusively from writing. Visit his final home and ranch, now the Jack London State Park, located in Glen Ellen.
8. Enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities
With over 19 golf courses, Safari West Wildlife Preserve, Sonoma Canopy Tours (zip line), horseback riding, kayaking, hot-air ballooning and more, you will always have something fun to do outdoors in Sonoma County. Get a glimpse of the wide range of outdoor activities here, or dive into more details surrounding your favorite Sonoma Countys outdoor activities here.
9. Ride a bike
Sonoma County is known as a cyclist’s paradise – 1,400 miles of secondary roads and off-road bike trails. Go all out, attacking tough climbs or cycling from winery to winery on a tasting tour; Sonoma County offers you the best cycling experience in Wine Country. Take a look at our guide to cycling in Sonoma County and out different cycling options for all levels in Sonoma County.
10. Discover a vibrant arts scene
The acclaimed Green Music Center opened in 2012 to critical acclaim. This world-class performing arts center joins a palette of 30-plus performing arts centers, and more than a hundred galleries and museums. With 27,000-plus artists and hundreds of music and art events each month – open studio events, art walks, art show openings – is it any wonder that Sonoma County is said to have more artists per capita than anywhere else in California?
A bonus highlight
Bask in the amazing California weather: Sonoma County’s natural beauty and moderate temperatures seldom dip below freezing, even in the winter. The area’s 25- to 30-inch annual rainfall happens primarily from November through April. In January, the average high/low temps inland is 58 F (14C)/36F (2C); on the coast, 56 F (13 C)/35 F (2C). In July, the average high/low temps inland is 90 F (32 C)/52 F (12 C); on the coast, 80 F (26 C)/48 F (8 C).
Have more questions about Sonoma County? These should help you out:
• FAQ about Wineries in Sonoma County
• FAQ about Hotels in Sonoma County
• FAQ about Things to Do in Sonoma County
• FAQ about Visiting Cities + Towns in Sonoma County
• FAQ about How to Travel to Sonoma County
See more Sonoma County highlights in What Sonoma County is Famous For: A-Z Guide.