Perfect Summer Saturdays in Sonoma County

Rivertown Revival in Petaluma

Plan ahead this summer, with our weekend-by-weekend, month-by-month collection of popular experiences — from picking peaches in July to attending the world-famous Accordion Festival in August. Your expert guides? Sonoma County writers who offer insider knowledge with pride.

For other ideas, check out our calendar of events.

July

Steampunk Style

It’s the season for live music festivals, and one of the best is the old-timey Rivertown Revival in Petaluma’s Steamer Landing Park, on the McNear Peninsula. This year’s event, the 12th annual, takes place on July 22 and 23. Celebrate “The Greatest Slough on Earth” with some two dozen musical acts plus works from local artists, like Burning Man’s Reared in Steel, as well as the ever-popular $5 weddings. Rivertown Revival is a benefit for the Friends of the Petaluma River, working to celebrate and conserve the beloved local waterway. -Dan Taylor

Just Peaches

You pick peaches Sonoma County
July is peach season in Sonoma County.

Each summer, The Pharmacy restaurant in Santa Rosa celebrates the arrival of peach season by serving one of Sonoma’s best sandwiches: a triumphant trio of fresh peaches, mozzarella, and bacon, resting on a bed of arugula and sandwiched between housemade ciabatta. Pair this ultimate peach BLT with an outing to Dry Creek Peach & Produce outside Healdsburg. Here, you can purchase delicious, just-picked peaches and peach jam from the farm stand, which supplies fruit to famed restaurants like Chez Panisse. -Sofia Englund

The Boys of Summer

As far as ways to spend a summer evening, there aren’t many better options than taking a trip to historic Recreation Park in Healdsburg to watch a Prune Packers game. The Packers are a collegiate summer league baseball team comprised of some of the best up-and-coming young talent from around the country. Not only could you be watching players who will soon be up in the big leagues, but you’ll be doing so in one of the best venues in Northern California. It’s baseball in its purest form and always a treat. Before or after a game, it’s an easy call to stop by The Wurst downtown for sausages and hot dogs or Taqueria El Sombrero for an Al Pastor super burrito. – Gus Morris

Doran’s Secret Side

When sweltering summer days call for a coastal escape, dodge the traffic jam at Doran Beach, drive around Bodega Harbor on Westshore Road, and head to Campbell Cove instead. This chill little stretch of sand near the Bodega Bay trailhead is a great place to wade, kayak, and tidepool. Since it’s in a protected cove, the winds aren’t as brisk and dangerous waves are few and far between. While the kids fly kites or bury each other in the sand, adults can relax and bask in the smug satisfaction of having a secret beach hideaway. On the way home along Highway 1, pull into Fishetarian Fish Market, where sandy, sun-kissed guests are welcome and fill up on chowder or some of the best fish tacos on the coast. -Jennifer Graue

Fishing in the City

The allure of getting back into bed fades quickly once I splash water on my face and start thinking about spending my Saturday catching largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill in the lake at Nagasawa Community Park, in the Fountaingrove neighborhood of Santa Rosa. A 6-foot-6 lightweight fly rod and barbless hooks make the little guys seem bigger than they are, and my inexpensive kayak allows me to get near areas of the pond where green reeds and dead tree branches offer perfect fish cover. A reliable source tells me the bass are most active in July. -Martin Espinoza

August

Cotati Accordion Festival
Cotati Accordion Festival

Accordions Unite

When anyone mentions accordions, I instantly flash back to my Ohio youth and Saturday evenings with my parents watching Lawrence Welk. Little did I know that every August, tucked in La Plaza Park in Cotati, the world-famous Accordion Festival rolls around. It’s been a three-decade tradition, this outpouring of affection from thousands who gather to enjoy an eclectic array of musical styles. What? You’re unaware there’s more than polka? Over the weekend, you’ll hear zydeco, blues, rock, Mexican conjunto, swing, country and western, and more played by some of the world’s most accomplished accordion stars. Sorry, Mr. Welk. My August Saturday nights are now reserved for a rousing evening of accordions and good friends. See you there August 19-20. -Richard A. Green

A Foodie Day in the Springs

Busy travelers headed to Sonoma on Highway 12 often breeze through the Springs, a collection of unincorporated towns that include Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs and Agua Caliente. Once a popular tourist destination for its rejuvenating thermal pools, the area is making a triumphant return as a culinary destination. Brightly painted buildings by artist Rico Martin highlight vintage stores and family-owned Latino markets. Make your first stop Sonoma Eats at the Barking Dog Roasters for mole enchiladas, shrimp tacos, and giant burritos. Nearby El Molino Central makes tortillas from scratch daily—their ahi tostadas with chipotle mayo are outstanding. And further south, you’ll find La Michoacana ice cream shop with dozens of flavors of ice cream, paletas, and bionicos (fruit bowls). In the evening, the Los Magos food truck, a local favorite, pulls up to the Wine Country Auto Center. -Heather Irwin

La Michoacana Restaurant
La Michoacana Restaurant

Apples Arrive

August is Gravenstein season—Sonoma’s home-grown hero apple, and it’s hard to imagine anything better than a late summer day revolving around good food and small farms in West County. Rural apple orchards line the backroads off Gravenstein Highway, including at Hale’s Apple Farm, a local favorite still run by the Hale family. Start with Gravensteins (or, later in the season, the tart Pink Lady apples) right from the trees at Hales, then drive back into town for some of the best ramen around at Ramen Gaijin, followed by drinks at Third Pig or the new natural wine bar The Redwood. Back at home, use some of your apple harvest to bake a crisp—the best way to wrap up the day. – Lonnie Hayes

Share the Harvest

Play farmer for a day with Farm to Pantry, a local nonprofit that gleans unused produce from local farms, wineries, and private properties throughout the county. Headed by Food Network celebrity chef, Duskie Estes, you’ll help bring in fresh food that would otherwise rot on the vines. Depending on what’s ripe, volunteers spend about three hours wielding fruit pickers, plucking kale, wrangling olives, or piling peaches and packing their haul into boxes. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see first-hand the fruits of your labor at a drop-off or distribution point. Most food goes directly to families or to one of the many partners who distribute or process the food for locals. No experience is necessary, and you’ll get that rosy glow of doing good. -Heather Irwin


Written by Sonoma Magazine Staff

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