20 Things to Do in Sonoma County This Summer for $10 or Less

Kayaking is back at Spring Lake Regional Park

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Wine Country is known for luxury, great food and some of the best wine in the world. But Sonoma County is also home to many fun (and sometimes free) activities you may not be aware of. Here are a few experiences you can’t afford to miss in Sonoma County. 

Watching a movie outdoors in the summer (Shutterstock)
Catch one of the Movies on the Square in Santa Rosa this summer 

Catch a flick in the open air

Movies on the Square has returned for another summer. Check out the movie schedule here, and head to Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa on the first Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. for free family fun. Pre-packaged snacks and locally produced beers and wines will be for sale, but admission is totally free. Moviegoers can bring low-back chairs and blankets from home and head to local downtown restaurants if they get peckish during the movie. 

Cool off at one of Sonoma County's many beaches
Cool off at one of Sonoma County’s many beaches 

Head to one of Sonoma County’s gorgeous beaches

One of the many luxuries of living in Sonoma County is the proximity to dozens of Pacific beaches, from the rugged Bodega Head Beach to the sandy Portuguese Beach. And then there are the Russian River beaches, too. Pack your car and have a picnic at the beach. Parking at regional parks is $7; free with a Sonoma County Regional Parks Pass

Vineyard wine tasting at Alexander Valley Vineyards
Sonoma County Vineyard Adventure at Alexander Valley Vineyards

Go wine tasting for free

Multiple wineries in Sonoma County offer free wine tastings. Check out any of the wineries participating in the Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures program — they offer free vineyard tours that range between ¼ mile and 1-¼ mile. A few select wineries, including Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville and Alexander Valley Vineyards in Healdsburg, offer complementary tasting flights that will satisfy both your palate and your budget.

Live music at Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa
Hear some live music at Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa

Listen to local tunes

Head to any of several free music festivals throughout the summer to listen to local bands play hit tunes and old favorites. Old Courthouse Square’s Music on the Square series offers music at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays (see the full schedule here). On July 12, 2022, you can pick up free tickets to see the Villalobos Brothers, whose original compositions mix Mexican folk music with jazz and classical music, in concert at the Green Music Center. Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa is also hosting a series of live music events from June to August that you won’t want to miss. 

Luther Burbank Home & Gardens in Santa Rosa
Take a tour of Luther Burbank Home & Gardens in Santa Rosa

Explore a gorgeous piece of local history at the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

Local botanist Luther Burbank lived on this Santa Rosa property from 1906 until his death in 1926. He was internationally renowned for his specialty plant varieties, and once even received a visit in 1915 from Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison. His home is open to the public 1-4 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, and his famous gardens are open from 1 p.m. to dusk on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

Go for a stroll in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Guerneville
Go for a stroll in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve 

Take a walk through the astonishing Armstrong Redwoods

Just north of Guerneville, Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve occupies 805 acres of old growth redwood forest and boasts some of the most awe-inspiring trees in the country. Among their ranks are Colonel Armstrong, a 1,400-year-old giant, and Parson Jones, which is taller than a football field is long. You can park outside the entrance to walk in without paying the $10-per-vehicle entry fee – but contributing to this wonderful forest is encouraged, too!

Explore member farms of the Sonoma County Farm Trails
Explore member farms of the Sonoma County Farm Trails 

Connect with local agriculture through the Farm Trails program

Designed to link the community to Sonoma County farmers and agricultural lands, the Farm Trails program offers experiences for the whole family throughout the year and in summer. Pick your own produce through the Farm Trails’ U-Pick initiative, or schedule a free tour of one of the participating businesses. Emmanuel Farmstead in Sebastopol, for example, hosts animal meet-and-greets and hands-on workshops. 

Cornerstone Sonoma by Thomas J. Story
Enjoy live music and good food at Cornerstone Sonoma (Thomas J. Story)

Enjoy live music and good food at Cornerstone Sonoma

Through the end of October 2022, Cornerstone Sonoma’s Outdoor Kitchen Venue will be hosting a lineup of local musicians. The price of admission? $0. Delicious barbecue, wood-fired pizza, and local wines and beers will be for sale. Check out the lineup here.

Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen
Have an adventure at Jack London State Historic Park 

Follow in Jack London’s footsteps

Famous author Jack London’s 1,400-acre “Beauty Ranch,” which includes his cottage, the Wolf House ruins, the historic ranch buildings and more than 29 miles of trails, is now a State Historic Park open to the public. Located in Glen Ellen, the park offers free docent-guided tours on the weekends around either the Wolf House or the rest of Beauty Ranch, during which you and your family can enjoy the beautiful nature that inspired London. It’s a piece of local history you can’t miss.

Don't miss the 2022 Healdsburg Art Festival
Don’t miss the artwork and performances of the 2022 Healdsburg Art Festival  

Get inspired at the 2022 Healdsburg Art Festival

Put August 26-28, 2022 on your calendar! The Healdsburg Center for the Arts is hosting the Healdsburg Art Festival in Healdsburg Plaza Park. Up to 55 artists, both international and American, will set up booths to show off their artistic works. There will also be live performances from music bands, poets, comedians and acrobats. Don’t miss the Miniatures Exhibition at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts through June 19, 2022 — no work is over 12 inches in any direction. All information here.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (Shutterstock)
Go for an epic hike at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Take a hike through Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

From Bald Mountain, with views of the San Francisco Bay, to the headwaters of the Sonoma Creek, Sugarloaf Ridge Park is one of the many breathtaking parks in Sonoma County that are all too easy to take for granted. With several trails ranging from short meadow hikes to an extended hike that can last three or more hours, there are hikes for the whole family to enjoy. Make sure to bring food and lots of water, especially as the temperatures keep rising. Parking is $10. 

Celebrate the return of the Water Park at Spring Lake
Celebrate the return of  the Water Park at Spring Lake 

Explore Sonoma County Regional Parks

Sonoma County’s regional parks are chock-full of opportunities for summer fun. The Water Park at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa is back, perfect for kids looking to cool off on a hot summer’s day ($10 per wristband). The Regional Parks River Shuttle has returned as well — for just $5, you can take a shuttle from Tom Schopflin Fields to Steelhead or Sunset Beach on weekends and holidays. Find more information about the shuttle and other regional parks here

Tuck into one or more of Sonoma County's farmers markets
Tuck into one or more of Sonoma County’s farmers markets 

Hit up Sonoma County Farmers Markets

With summer comes the full bounty of Sonoma County’s agricultural production, which you can check out at your local farmers market. Take a stroll down Fourth Street in Santa Rosa any Wednesday evening to see just how popular farmers markets are — and check out the booths’ produce to see exactly why. A full list of farmers markets in Sonoma County can be found here

Ballet Folklorico will be performing for free in Downtown Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square
Ballet Folklorico will be performing in Downtown Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square 

Family Fridays in Old Courthouse Square

Head on over to Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa on June 24, July 15 or July 29, 2022 for activities, games, and entertainment for the whole family from 4 to 7 p.m. You and your family will get to see performances from different cultures, including the Sonoma County Pomo Dancers and Ballet Folklorico. Like the other activities during Summer on the Square, this family fun is totally free!

Flit your way through the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens
Flit your way through the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens 

See butterflies up close at Hallberg Butterfly Gardens

On June 26, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens in western Sonoma County will host its annual Open Gardens Day Celebration and plant sale. Admission to the gardens is free, but visitors are requested to make a reservation in advance so there aren’t too many people in the butterfly gardens at one time. Bring your family to walk through the nine acres of meadows and thickets to appreciate the beauty of our local environment. Reserve a 4-hour slot here

"Love" sculpture at Paradise Ridge Winery
LOVE sculpture at Paradise Ridge Winery 

Stroll through the Paradise Ridge Winery Art Walk 

“Marijke’s Grove,” named for Marijke Hoenselaars, is a beautiful grove of sculptures constructed with the help of the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation, which places sculptures in public places accessible for everyone. From a gigantic LOVE sculpture, a permanent exhibit along the lovely footpaths, to “Temple of Remembrance,” which weighs 25 tons, Marijke’s Grove is perfect for anyone looking for a moment to be inspired by nature, art and the art of nature.

Learn more about Spring Lake at the Environment Discovery Center
Learn more about Spring Lake at the Environmental Discovery Center 

Learn about Sonoma County’s ecosystems at Spring Lake

Spring Lake’s Environmental Discovery Center is open again on weekends, with tons of new interactive summer exhibits, including a tidepool with live sea creatures and turtles. Kids can conduct earth science experiments, hike with a local naturalist to learn about local flora and fauna, or even hang out with taxidermy wildlife like coyotes and mountain lions. Admission to the park is $7. The Environmental Discovery Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Sonoma County has tons of great biking trails
Sonoma County is home to hundreds of biking trails

Go biking along Sonoma County’s abundant trails

Whether you’re a beginner cyclist or more experienced, Sonoma County’s hundreds of trails will have something in store for you. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one at a local bike shop. Then, you can take to the trails, from the 0.5-mile Prince Memorial Greenway to the world-famous 30-mile Dry Creek and Alexander Valley loop. Wine Country is well-known around the world as cycling destination — so get out there and ride!

Make a splash at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach
Make a splash at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach 

Swim in the Russian River

Make a splash this summer at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach, which is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2022 with daily lifeguards on duty. We recommend bringing a picnic to enjoy at Memorial Beach’s picnic area, but make sure to get there early on weekends, because the parking lot fills up quickly. Parking is $7, but like most Sonoma County parks, there’s off-street parking nearby. 

Join one of many outdoor or volunteer events with LandPaths
Join one of many outdoor or volunteer events with LandPaths

Get outside with Landpaths

Landpaths is an environmental education and conservation program that offers volunteer opportunities and fun free events all summer long. “Let’s Read Outside,” Stewardship Days all over the county, and a free hike at Lafferty Ranch are just a few of the dozens of outdoor events Landpaths has planned this year. Check out the calendar here for ways to get involved, and most importantly, to have fun. 

Written by Julia Green

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