Hot air ballooning in Sonoma County
Hot air ballooning over Sonoma County

10 Fun Things to Do: Food, Wine, Music & More

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There's an incredible variety of fun activities in vibrant Sonoma County - which makes it difficult to trim a list down to just 10.

Bearing that in mind, here's a short list of don't-miss picks for special Sonoma County adventures available year-round. 

Green Music Center, Rohnert Park

guests on the lawn of the green music center in Sonoma County
Green Music Center at Sonoma State University

Since its debut in late 2012, the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park has garnered accolades as a world-class concert venue.

The state-of-the-art theater, concert hall, and lawn performance space has hosted such stars as The Silk Road Ensemble, classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing bluegrass with his Goat Road Sessions group, Lyle Lovett, and the Philharmonia Baroque.

There's an on-site restaurant with white-cloth service (open on concert evenings or for special events), and you've got to love that the center has a recital hall named after the Peanuts character Schroeder in honor of Jeannie and Charles M. Schulz's contributions to the university and ties to the community.

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa

luther burbank center for the arts in Sonoma County
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts

The recently renovated Luther Burbank Center for the Arts hosts world-class performances of music, theater, dance, comedy, family programming, and renowned speakers, as well as nationally recognized education programs, contemporary sculpture, and many popular community events.

Enjoy Chinese acrobatics, stand-up comedy, a wide variety of music, ballet and other styles of dance, and informative presentations.

Graton Resort & Casino, Rohnert Park

The exterior entrance of the modern casino
Graton Resort & Casino

This flashy, $825 million, 340,000-square-foot casino is heaven for fashionable gamblers, thanks to a dizzying array of games played in luxurious surroundings. Here are the stats: 3,000 slot and video poker games; more than 120 table games, like blackjack, baccarat and Pai Gow poker; a 20-table poker room; a high-limit table game room with private salons; and a high-limit slots room, with $300 pulls.

For refreshments, Graton Resort & Casino provides three bars and lounges: the G sports bar with 42 flat-screen TVs; the Sky with a 360-degree diamond-shaped bar; and the 8, a VIP lounge in the high-limit area.

Enjoy casual dining in four full restaurants: gourmet Italian at Tony's of North Beach; dry-aged beef and seafood at 630 Park Steakhouse; classic American and Mediterranean cuisine at the Daily Grill; and an eclectic mix of Japanese and East Asian cuisine in the Boathouse Asian Eatery. Or check out the seven eateries in the casino's Marketplace, offering pizza, burgers, sushi, barbecue, and more.

The Barlow, Sebastopol

Barlow sign in the Barlow in Sonoma County
The Barlow

There's a treasure trove of shopping, wine tasting, and dining at this 12.5-acre, 220,000-square-foot, $23.5 million culinary, art, and shopping center in Sebastopol.

Set in a former apple cannery property at the southeastern entrance to town, The Barlow is home to Barrio Fresca Cocina Mexicana, which offers mouthwatering Mexican-Style street food with a gourmet edge in a paper plate style setting; Taylor Lane cafe; Spirit Works Distillery for handcrafted gin and whiskey; and three on-site breweries, Crooked Goat Brewing and Seismic Brewing Company (with food from local restaurants) and Woodfour Brewing Company (with a full gastropub menu). Or browse through Gallery 300, and much, much more.

California Cheese Trail, in Sonoma County

Cheese from Sonoma County

Discover the actual producers of famous cheeses like Bellwether by following the Cheese Trail through Sonoma County.

Chart your course with the printed or online version of the official California Cheese Trail map, for delights such as the Achadinha Cheese Company of Petaluma, where 900 goats graze year-round on verdant pastures, supplemented by brewers' grain from local breweries.

Some of the cheesemakers on the map are open to the public on a regular basis, others are open seasonally or by appointment, and some are too busy making cheese to welcome visitors. Details about access to each site are listed on the map.

The Ranch at Lake Sonoma Horseback Riding, Healdsburg

horseback riding at the ranch at Lake Sonoma in Sonoma County
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma Horseback Riding

Explore nature on the back of a sure-footed horse. Take a guided horseback trail ride with gorgeous views of the lake and surrounding countryside, only minutes from downtown Healdsburg.

The Ranch at Lake Sonoma offers a wilderness experience on horseback, wandering through Sonoma County's largest 17,000-acre park. A variety of trail rides are available, from those suitable for timid or first-time riders to more challenging treks for experienced equestrians. For kids age 3-8, there are also hand-led donkey rides either in the arena or along a trail (parent/guardian must walk alongside).

Quivira Vineyards and Winery, Healdsburg

pigs at Quivira in Sonoma County
Quivira Vineyards & Winery

Get up-close with nature. First, wander the Quivira vineyard, which overlooks a restored stream that welcomes leaping fish during the annual salmon runs.

Other stops on this biodynamic-farmed estate include a one-acre garden filled with fresh vegetables and herbs grown exclusively for Sonoma County's best restaurants (chefs stake their own signs in the beds to claim the crops); a peek at colorfully plumed heritage chickens pecking in the soil; beehives; and even resident heritage pigs that root happily beneath apple trees.

Go on your own or, for even more knowledge, reserve one of the winery's environmental experts for a guided tour. Before, after, or even during, you can sip hand-crafted Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.

Woody's Wine Tours

For more than a decade, Woody has tasted thousands of wines, and cultivated relationships with hundreds of winemakers. These relationships allow Woody's Wine Tours to create custom tour packages that are pure entertainment, with an intimate connection to the wine country that you will never forget.

Hot Air Ballooning

hot air ballooning in Sonoma County

Experience Sonoma County's stunning landscape from the basket of a hot-air balloon. You'll feel like a bird, way up high, floating above the world. Drift over vineyards, fields planted with crops, and streams and creeks. Most flights finish with a champagne toast, and possibly brunch.
Up & Away Ballooning
Wine Country Balloons

Sonoma County Farm Trails

Explore Sonoma County's agricultural heritage and experience life on the farm with sheep, llamas, honey bees, butterflies, and more as you visit the places listed on the Farm Trails map.

Members of Sonoma County Farm Trails have opened their farms and ranches to the public for more than 40 years, and the tradition continues. The adventures change with the season, and can include baby animals and fields of flowers in the spring; picking berries in the warm summer sun; exploring apple orchards and pumpkin patches in the fall, and cutting down the perfect Christmas tree over the holidays.