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Out And About in Sonoma County

Have fun in the Russian River.

Like the openness of its natural spaces and its people, Sonoma County is an inviting place for gay and lesbian visitors. The rivers and redwoods, coast and sea villages, and valleys and vineyards of Sonoma County are just a 45-minute scenic drive from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Here you’ll find thriving LGBT-owned and -operated, as well as gay-friendly, businesses.

Venture out to discover a food-lover's paradise: 600-plus restaurants ranging from Michelin- and Zagat-rated to casual wine country cuisine use freshly harvested, locally-grown produce. Learn to cook your own Wine Country cuisine by attending cooking classes held throughout Sonoma County. Other options include mushroom foraging (seasonal), master gardening classes, and wine and food pairings at wineries.

Speaking of wine and food pairings, the five-course Wine & Food Pairing at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards was named as the top restaurant in the United States by OpenTable.com; Trip Advisor called it "the best Wine & Food Pairing we've ever experienced"; and Bite Club Eats said the small plates "rival the kitchen of any Michelin-starred restaurant." Stunning vineyard views add to the fine-dining experience. The winery's winemaker and chef work hand-in-hand planning the seasonal menus. 

While there are more than 400 wineries to choose from, consider a brush with fame and take in Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, restaurant, and movie memorabilia museum, which includes Coppola’s Oscars, a car from the movie Tucker, and the desk from The Godfather. This is the only winery with its own swimming pool, complete with “cabines” to rent for the day.

The naturally beautiful resort communities and the beaches and towering redwoods of the Russian River resort area rank high among the popular hot spots; this area is known as “San Francisco’s Gay Playground.”

The cool, clear water of the river boasts sandy beaches that indulge laid-back sunbathers and entice the more active with kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. Hiking, picnicking, nature walks, biking, and horseback riding are some of the ways that visitors enjoy spending time among the stately giants at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

As diverse in accommodations as it is in lifestyle, the Sonoma County boasts many either gay-owned or gay-friendly accommodations.

Dance under the redwoods, experience the romance of the Pacific Ocean coast, do a little shopping, or indulge in a California Wine Country meal. No matter what your choice, you’ll find that in Sonoma County, you’ll feel right at home.

See Sonoma County's safety tips for water activities here.

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