Discover San Francisco's Wine Country - Sonoma County
After traveling to San Francisco, it's a short drive to Sonoma County's famed Wine Country - TripAdvisor's top U.S. wine destination, only 45 minutes north of the famed Golden Gate Bridge.
Sonoma County is known for its more than 425 wineries, miles of gorgeous Pacific Ocean coastline, and some of the most fertile earth in California.
Spend The Night
Reach back into history and experience the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, in Sonoma Valley. The resort's rich wellness history stretches back hundreds of years, when Native Americans discovered the natural underground hot mineral waters.
Developed as a resort in the late 1800s, the property went through many ups and downs. Now the ultimate Wine Country oasis, the inn offers a pampering spa, world-class golf, and an award-winning restaurant. Details: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, 100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma, 707-938-9000
Or, visit Sonoma County's western border - more than 55 miles of dramatic coastline. Bodega Bay Escapes vacation home rentals offer ocean-front homes.
The name says it all, these homes have some of the best views in the Bodega Bay area, and the proximity to the beach is second to none. Get a front-row seat to the Northern California coast in a cozy beach cottage.
Each of the privately owned homes is uniquely appointed and equipped for comfort and leisure. Many homes have private outdoor hot tubs and free wireless internet service. All homes are furnished with full kitchens, linens, and no added cleaning fees. Choose from casual beach cottages along the Sonoma Coast, or distinctive golf course homes at The Links at Bodega Harbour. Details: Bodega Bay Escapes, 707-875-2610, 877-809-7819
Enjoy yourself visiting famed wineries in Sonoma County. Started in 1972, Dry Creek Vineyard was the first to plant Sauvignon Blanc in the Dry Creek Valley wine region. And is there anything more refreshing than a cold glass of Sauv Blanc after a warm day? Details: Dry Creek Vineyard, 3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg, 707-433-1000
Helping the ocean, as well as the land, Iron Horse Vineyards runs its Healthy Ocean Project with leading ocean conservation groups. The winery produces its vintage Blanc de Blancs Ocean Reserve, created in partnership with National Geographic to help save the ocean. Iron Horse contributes $4 from each bottle sold to National Geographic's Ocean Initiative - establishing marine protected areas and reducing overfishing around the world. Details: Iron Horse Vineyards, 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, 707-887-1507
Visit the home of America's favorite Chardonnay
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens has been anchored in Sonoma County for nearly 30 years with the understanding that the cold Pacific Ocean allows the winemaking team to make superior quality wines. That means the cool, maritime breezes and coastal fog protect the grapes and coax the most intense and complex varietal flavors. Stop by Kendall-Jackson and experience a unique wine and food pairing adventure. Details: Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, 5007 Fulton Road, Santa Rosa, 707-576-3810
Take a Historic Ride
All aboard the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley. One of San Francisco's favorite modes of transportation - a cable car - now roams the quaint streets and vineyards of gorgeous Sonoma Valley, offering open-air views that allow guests to experience Wine Country like they never have before. Built from historic blueprints, the Sonoma Wine Trolley is a motorized replica of a late 1890s San Francisco cable car, the type that still runs on San Francisco's California cable line.
Choosing to tour Sonoma Valley by trolley is a way to get a deeper understanding of one of California's first wine regions. Guides are experienced and share the destination's history, culture, and award-winning wines. The tour includes a gourmet lunch catered by the acclaimed the girl & the fig restaurant. The Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley experience begins with a daily passenger pickup at 10:30 a.m. from Sonoma Plaza. Arrangements for pickup at several Sonoma hotel locations can be made prior to 10:30 a.m. Details: Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley, 707-938-2600
Find Adventure in the Redwood Trees
Zip through the redwoods of Northern California on Sonoma Canopy Tours. Sonoma Canopy Tours is a high-adventure activity completely unlike anything you've ever experienced. Enjoy a two-and-a-half hour guided tour that includes seven zip lines, two sky bridges, a majestic spiral staircase, a rappel, and the unparalleled beauty of the world-famous California coastal redwoods. Reservations are required. Each participant must be at least 10 years of age and 70 pounds and may not exceed 250 pounds. Details: Sonoma Canopy Tours, 6250 Bohemian Highway, Occidental, 888-494-7868.
Venture Along the Coast
Sonoma County's southern border is San Pablo Bay, which leads into the San Francisco Bay. The influence on the region from the bay, rivers, and ocean can't be overstated, whether it was the possible landing of Sir Francis Drake in Bodega Bay in 1579, the arrival of the Russians from Alaska to establish Fort Ross in 1812, or the rechristening of the Petaluma Slough to the Petaluma River in 1959, making it eligible for federal dredging, and larger ship traffic.
Here are some spots to sail to, or in, Sonoma County:
On the Pacific Coast, Spud Point Marina, in Bodega Bay, is located on the scenic Sonoma County coast less than 50 nautical miles from the center span of the Golden Gate Bridge. The quaint town is a perfect home base for sampling all that Sonoma County has to offer, from the rugged coastline to the inland vineyards.
Local fishing fleets head out for Dungeness crab and salmon. Fishing boats and pleasure boats use the protected bay as a base for exploring the waters off the Sonoma coast. Insider tip - Spud Point Crab Company, located across the street and run by a long-time fishing family, has some of the best chowder in Sonoma County. Details: Spud Point Marina, 1818 Westshore Road, Bodega Bay, 707-875-3535.
Hey, why should the ocean get all the glory? Lake Sonoma, in northern Sonoma County, is a great spot for a sail, or a leisurely day spent exploring. Nestled in the beautiful coastal foothills, Lake Sonoma is surrounded by world-famous vineyards and land that is rich in history.
Created by the construction of Warm Springs Dam in 1983, the lake provides for flood control, irrigation, and recreation. When full, the lake has a surface area of more than 2,700 acres and 50 miles of shoreline, forming the perfect setting for a wealth of recreational activities. Visit to hike, swim, ride, boat, camp, fish, or hunt at this beautiful lake. Visit The Ranch at Lake Sonoma Horseback Riding for scenic guided horseback trail rides with gorgeous views of the lake and surrounding countryside. Details: Lake Sonoma Visitors Center & Fish Hatchery, 3288 Skaggs Springs Road, Geyserville, 707-431-4533.
The waters of the Petaluma Marina are part of the Petaluma River, a channel that runs 14 miles from the north end of Petaluma into San Pablo Bay. With 167 slips, the Petaluma Marina offers many facilities and services to boaters and kayakers on the river including private restrooms and showers, full utilities, security gates, and kayak storage. The river is enjoyed for its excellent boating, fishing, and water skiing. Details: Petaluma Marina, 781 Baywood Drive, Petaluma, 707-778-4489.