Starlight Vacation Rental overlooking Russian River Valley in Sonoma County
Vacation rental overlooking Russian River Valley

5 Insider Tips on Vacation Rentals in Wine Country

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Sometimes, only a real home can offer that comfy, all-encompassing escape you want on a Sonoma Wine Country vacation. Or maybe you're visiting Sonoma County with a group of friends and family, and you want to stay close together for communal fun like cooking meals, watching movies, and group activities like a spa day. 

Vacation rental in Sonoma County overlooking Dry Creek Valley from big windows
Gustafson Family Vineyards, Luxurious Estate Home

Fortunately, planning such a retreat is as effortless as booking a hotel, thanks to Sonoma County specialists like Beautiful PlacesRussian River Getaways, Healdsburg Vacation Homes and Bodega Bay & Beyond.

Using an agency comes with many perks, including lower prices negotiated by the professionals, access to exclusive properties that otherwise would not be discovered, peace of mind that your vacation rental is professionally managed, concierge service for extras like restaurant and winery reservations or outdoor adventures, and even pet-friendly pampering.

Here are five tips for putting together that perfect Sonoma County getaway: 

Location, Location, Location

Be sure to explore Sonoma County's many distinct regions before booking with any agency, since with more than a million acres of largely open space landscape, the region brims with many gorgeous options ranging from riverfront, Pacific Ocean coast, mountaintop, meadow, and, of course, vineyards.

Knoll Valley vacation home in Sonoma County
Vineyard vacation home

Russian River Getaways owner Rachel LeGrand specializes in pet-friendly vacation homes located between Santa Rosa and the Coast, including Guerneville, Forestville, Monte Rio, Cazadero, Duncans Mills, and Jenner. From a one-bedroom storybook cottage tucked amid the redwoods, to a six-bedroom Victorian country house on a private estate edging up to vineyards, her portfolio caters to renters wanting the best of West County.

Dream Up Your Extras

Some rental agencies offer resort-quality add-ons, for amenities like a personal shopper who stocks your home with local artisanal food and wines. Beautiful Places of Sonoma takes it further, offering fresh flower arrangements, luggage shipping and unpacking, helicopter transfers from area California airports, catering, and even top star private chefs to cook in your kitchen. Consider getting a private car and driver, too, from a service like Pure Luxury Transportation of Petaluma, since that brings the extra bonus of chauffeurs who can recommend wineries, restaurants, and shopping customized to your taste.

Make it a True Vacation

Beautiful Places vacation rental in Sonoma County
Beautiful Places vacation rental

A rental becomes the ultimate haven when it comes with a private chef and masseuse. Husband-and-wife team Cindy Scott-Fuchs and Trip Fuchs own The Spa Gourmet, where Scott-Fuchs coordinates a private, luxury rental home such as a beach hideaway, then sets up a complete spa on-site, while Trip cooks a gourmet meal.

Everyone in the group can enjoy individual pampering that might include a detox elixir, a facial, and an aromatherapy massage with warm reflexology stones that are often collected from the area around the home for an extra soothing, earth-centric vibe. While massages are underway, Fuchs works in the kitchen, crafting a spa meal paired with Sonoma County wine.

Make it Your Lifestyle

Because rental agents are experts in the many, differing towns across Sonoma County, they can help you choose the perfect destination for the things you love to do. If you're a biking fanatic, maybe you want to be in the Healdsburg area with its winding rural roads around wineries, and numerous bike rental shops. Ocean lovers might choose Bodega Bay, for a cliffside cottage steps from the beach, kayaking, surfing and whale watching. If you love to horseback ride and hike, meanwhile, Glen Ellen offers an exquisite location for both, in the heart of breathtakingly beautiful national destinations like Jack London State Historic Park. Find nature parks here.

Convenience Brings Extra Charm 

Your agent will also be able to map out the basic pleasures of daily life, such as nearby grocery stores, local farmers markets, and perhaps even a skateboarding park for the kids. If you've got a theme, too, your agent can help you plan all the bells-and-whistles. 

Maybe you're celebrating a girls' getaway – just ask, and your agent can coordinate complete spa days, tasting room crawls, and a gourmet cooking class, leaving you with nothing to do but enjoy the fun.

Ready to escape to wine country? Browse Sonoma County vacation rentals here.

Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.