Sacramento to Petaluma Road Trip Itinerary
A Sonoma County Wine Country road trip is a particularly iconic weekend getaway from the Sacramento – San Francisco Bay Area. More than 425 wineries, 55 miles of coastline, meandering rivers, and tons of redwood groves all intersect in one beautiful place. And for many road trippers, especially those coming from Sacramento, Petaluma is often the first thing they see.
Located 37 miles north of San Francisco, Petaluma is a convergence of the best of Sonoma County, including scores of wineries, cheesemakers, award-winning breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, and miles of trails. Not to mention that Petaluma is steeped in history, such as with the Rancho Petaluma Adobe, a historic landmark that dates back to the early 1800s. Petaluma in many ways is the gateway to Sonoma County. Continue reading for a Petaluma road trip itinerary.
Kickstart Your Trip Outdoors
After passing San Pablo Bay, take Lakeville Highway and follow the signs to Petaluma. For some fresh air, take a hike through Tolay Lake Regional Park, the largest Sonoma County Regional Park. At Tolay, you can learn about the Coast Miwok indigenous people, who considered Tolay Lake a sacred gathering place. For a short, quick hike, take the loop around Helen Putnam Regional Park in Petaluma. Afterward, enjoy a locally-sourced, organic breakfast or lunch at Aqus Café. Or, for something on-the-go, visit Acre Coffee for a matcha or cappuccino and grab a pastry on your way out.
Food lovers can go straight to the source with farm tours, such as those at Achadinha Cheese Company, and visit “the girls” (a.k.a. goats and cows) on the farm. If you want a once-in-a-lifetime experience, take the full cheesemaking class where you will roll up your sleeves and get your hands in curds and whey. Lunch, and lots of cheese tasting, is included.
Petaluma is home to many other farms and creameries, many of which are open for tours. Lavender Bee Farm and McClelland's Dairy Farm are just a couple of Petaluma's other farms that offer tours.
Following an afternoon of activities, stop at Portworks for a Sonoma County hidden gem. Portworks is one of only a few places in Sonoma County specializing in port-style wines, making for a great gift. If you’re looking for a more wholesome sweet treat, stop by Lala’s Creamery for a variety of gourmet ice flavors, including many gluten-free and vegan options.
Once you’re ready to settle in, drive to the heart of downtown Petaluma to check in at Hotel Petaluma, a historic hotel that dates back to the early 1900s. Stay nearby for a glass of wine at Barber Cellars and dinner at The Shuckery, both located adjacent to the hotel. For beer lovers, look no further than the gardens at Brewsters Beer Garden or Lagunitas. Both feature outdoor seating, hearty eats, and local beers on tap. Other accommodation options include the Hampton Inn Petaluma, Quality Inn , or the Sheraton Sonoma Wine Country Petaluma.
Be sure to make time to walk around downtown Petaluma. The historic, charming town is full of quaint shops, unique restaurants, and cozy tasting rooms. Petaluma's 150-year-old Main Street was even chosen as one of the best Main Streets in the West by Sunset Magazine.
For day 2, head further north towards the beautiful, historic town of Sonoma. Start the day with local favorite girl & the fig, where the food is always local and seasonal. Some favorites include the quiche lorraine and the croque monsieur. While you’re there, be sure to grab a jar of their popular fig compote – it's the perfect addition to your charcuterie plate. Alternatively, you can head to Sonoma Market to pick up breakfast at the coffee shop and picnic fixings for later. Be warned that their extensive deli and prepared foods bar is hard to resist.
World-Renowned Wine Tasting
An iconic wine country road trip calls for an iconic wine tasting experience. Start your day at Buena Vista Winery, a historic California landmark and the oldest commercial winery. Take their unique 20-minute light, sound, and visual show and tour, and follow it up with a flight of wine paired with cheese and charcuterie. Other wineries to explore include Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery, Viansa Sonoma, and Gundlach Bundschu Winery. Just be sure to bring your walking shoes so you can tour the wine cellars and stroll the outdoors. Come for the wine, stay for the views.
If you prefer food with your tour, check out Gourmet Food and Wine Tours. Gourmet Food and Wine Tours takes you around the Sonoma Plaza where you can hear about California history through local landmarks and architecture while sampling farm-to-table dishes. You can also visit Cornerstone Sonoma, a family-friendly marketplace for lovers of artisanal food, wine, art, and gardens. Take in their ever-changing collection of walk-through gardens, galleries, and shops all in one place.
Cozy Stay in Glen Ellen
When you’re ready, drive to nearby Glen Ellen, a small town where famous author Jack London once called home. History and literary buffs will enjoy a stay at the Jack London Lodge, a cozy lodge located creekside near downtown Glen Ellen. For those seeking a spa experience with their accommodations, consider Gaige House + Ryokan or Olea Hotel. Both are boutique hotels offering relaxing spa treatments and exceptional service.
For dinner, try nearby Glen Ellen Star, highlighted by a seasonal, international menu. Popular offerings include their whole fish, brick chicken, and wood-fired pizzas. Elsewhere, there’s Salt & Stone, in the neighboring town of Kenwood, which is recognized for their wine and seafood selection. Try the raw oysters, crispy curry calamari, or the prawn and scallop pappardelle.
Explore the History
In the morning, stop by French bakery Les Pascals for the almond croissants and take home some baguettes or macarons. After fueling yourself on coffee and baked goods, explore Jack London State Park and tour London’s longtime home and artifacts from his life. Spanning 1,400 acres, Jack London State Park beckons guests to spend the entire day at the lush, sprawling state park. You can also head to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park to hike some of its 25 miles of hiking trails that includes a seasonal waterfall, diverse landscapes, and incredible views of the Sonoma Valley.
Kenwood and Glen Ellen both have plenty of great wineries. Explore the beautiful property at Landmark Vineyards for their always changing tasting menu and winery tour (by appointment only). Landmark also offers complimentary horse-drawn vineyard tours and has gardens that includes bocce ball. Just around the corner from Landmark, immerse yourself in the lush European-style gardens at Chateau St. Jean, where you can learn about their rich history while tasting a selection of reserve wines.
In Glen Ellen, learn about biodynamic and green farming at Benziger Family Winery, which has been pioneers in sustainable farming. Take the tram tour for a truly educational and interesting tour. Lastly, stop at B.R. Cohn Winery & Olive Oil, where you can also taste and shop for olive oils and vinegars to take home. If you’re lucky, you might catch a featured musician playing live. After all, Bruce Cohn, the winery's founder, managed the Doobie Brothers for 45 years.
Sip and Cycle
For your final adventure, see Sonoma Valley by bike with Getaway Adventures. Explore on your own or take a guided tour with a Sonoma County expert to learn about its rich history. Pedal your way to various wineries or stop for a quick picnic to refuel. Bikes include pedal-assist just in case you need an extra boost after all the cheese and wine.
Stroll the Plaza
Once you’ve drummed up an appetite, try Della Santina’s for traditional Italian fare, LaSalette Restaurant for Portuguese cuisine, or Hopmonk for their outdoor beer garden and tavern eats. Hopmonk, too, often has live music. Before you take off, take a stroll in the Sonoma Plaza to check out the art galleries or load up on bottles of wine to take home from Three Sticks, WALT Wines, or Schug Carneros Estate Winery. Don’t worry if you can’t take it all home, we’ll save a seat for your next visit back.
If you are not ready to go home yet, consider staying for a wellness retreat at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, with its famous mineral spa.