Discovering Sonoma County as a Solo Traveler
Following your own compass can take you far: Solo travel can push you out of your comfort zone, allow you to find greater strength and courage, and ultimately manifest deeper fulfillment. In the words of avid traveler (and full-on genius) Albert Einstein: “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.”
With its range of attractions, friendly vibes, and high safety rating, Sonoma County is an ideal destination for the solo traveler. Below, we’ve outlined logistics, itinerary ideas, and travel tips just for you on your solo journey.
Need more ideas? Supplement these tips by downloading the new Sonoma County app, which suggests attractions, offers step-by-step directions, and provides itineraries that you can share with loved ones back home. When you know your travel plan is sound, and information is at your fingertips, you can relax and enjoy the journey.
First, Nail Down the Logistics
You can arrive in Sonoma County through any number of hubs, but for fewer headaches, book your flight into Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS). With its approachable size and a range of services, the airport is easy to navigate, making arrival and departure a downright pleasure.
As for accommodations, options range from sustainably operated “green” lodgings to opulent five-star hotels. As a solo traveler, you might find that boutique inns and hotels offer a personalized stay: We like Olea Hotel in the village of Glen Ellen; the funky Astro Motel with its bike rentals and tours; and Hotel Petaluma for its affordability and excellent oyster bar and lounge.
Thinking of spending some time in the great outdoors? Camping is a wonderful way to do it, and we’ve compiled a complete guide here. While camping solo might seem daunting, it’s feasible in Sonoma County, especially with the support of a specialty outfitter: Bohemian Highway Travel Co. offers beautifully arranged coastal camping packages that include use of a Land Rover outfitted with a car-top tent, along with all the equipment you’ll need (and then some).
Find Your Center
You’re likely planning a getaway because you need a break. Make sure to spend time, then, deeply nurturing your body and soul. Sonoma County offers countless opportunities for retreat and renewal.
Seeking spiritual rejuvenation? You’ll find it at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, a nonprofit retreat center situated on 80 acres on the outskirts of Santa Rosa. Choose to either volunteer at the center, immerse yourself in Buddhist studies during a temple stay, take part in special events like workshops or film night, or simply stay as an overnight guest and enjoy the Japanese-style bathhouse.
If you crave a less intensive experience, head to Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary. This eco-friendly haven in remote West Sonoma County offers unique cedar enzyme baths, massage, meditation gardens, and sound healing. As a member of the Green Spa Network, Osmosis demonstrates environmentally responsible business practices at nearly every turn.
For shameless indulgence, try the luxe spa at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. One afternoon lounging around the tranquil pools and steam rooms will trick you into believing you’ve been on vacation for a week.
If your itinerary is tight, and you need to pack your self-care into a shorter time span, try any of Sonoma County’s many wellness classes, including yoga classes set amid the vineyards. Browse other wellness options and itineraries here.
Drink It In
In Sonoma County, wine isn’t just a beverage, but an integral part of the region’s history, culture, and landscape. Experience its vast range and depth by exploring local wineries and other tasting opportunities.
While you can attend wine tastings solo, as long as you have accounted for safe transportation, you might consider signing on with a tour. We’re fans of the fun-loving Platypus Tours, as well as La Belle Vie, which caters to vegan travelers. Check out more local wine and culinary tours here.
If you'd rather taste on your own, avoid the problem of drinking and driving by beginning from a place where your destinations will be within walking distance. In Healdsburg or Sonoma, for example, you’ll find a great number of wineries within a half-mile of each of the town plazas. Learn more about wine tasting without a car here.
Take Yourself on a “Date Night”
Traveling solo doesn’t mean you can’t get gussied up and take yourself out for an elegant night. In a region celebrated for its natural beauty, some visitors overlook the cultural opportunities in Sonoma County, but there are plenty, if you know where to find them.
Green Music Center is a premiere performance venue on the campus of Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park. Since its opening in 2012, it’s showcased the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Diana Ross, Elvis Costello, and other compelling artists. With a sprawling outdoor venue and two beautifully designed indoor concert halls, the renowned center also offers a range of dining options, plus a wine list highlighting local vintners.
Another option for date night: Treat yourself to Transcendence Theatre’s “Broadway Under the Stars” series, which features world-class performances staged outdoors in Jack London State Park. As a bonus, local wineries are on hand to pour their latest releases for the crowd. Also check out the troupe’s “Skits Under the Stars” series, which invites audience participation.
Watch the World Go By
People are the heart of any place. Why not take a moment, then, to observe the people who make Sonoma County come alive? Find a perch on a central town green, like the bustling Healdsburg Fountain Plaza or Santa Rosa Railroad Square, and …. simply wait. If there is a film festival, concert, or farmers market happening, then the streets will be even more lively. Check our events calendar here.
Alternatively, settle into a cafe and observe your surroundings. A few of our top picks for people-watching cafes include Caffe Sunflower on the Sonoma Plaza, Della Fattoria in downtown Petaluma, Flying Goat in Healdsburg, and Plank Coffee in Cloverdale.
Don’t forget to bring a pen and journal to jot down observations – and don’t be surprised if you make a few new friends! Solo travelers are typically more likely to meet locals than tourists traveling in groups.
A few tips for solo travelers:
- Pack light. You will likely need to carry your luggage yourself.
- Carry an emergency stash of cash in a hidden wallet.
- Bring a compact first aid kit (just in case).
- Give your itinerary to someone back home.
- If you share your journey on social media, keep your real-time location private.
- Save local emergency contacts into your phone.
Written by Amy Bess Cook