Sonoma County's Mediterranean climate means that it enjoys great weather throughout most of the year. However, some days you just need to cool off. Below, discover a few things to do in Sonoma County when it's hot outside.
Head to the coast or the river
Notoriously cold during most of the year, Northern California beaches are the ultimate getaway for hot weather days. Pack a picnic and some sunblock and head out to Doran Beach, or any of our favorite beaches. The Russian River has plenty of cool spots, too. Pro tip: If you know it will be a 90+ degree day, make your way to the beach early, before everyone else — and their cars — do the same.
Cool down under the canopy
Walk shaded by gentle giants in the Grove of Old Trees, perched high on a remote ridgetop, hidden along narrow, twisting Fitzpatrick Lane off Joy Road in Occidental. The grove is owned and managed by the land conservancy group LandPaths and includes 28 peaceful acres traversed by a network of wide, easy-to-walk trails. Access is free, but be forewarned: There are no amenities, save for a picnic table. 17400 Fitzpatrick Lane, Occidental, 707-544-7284
Pair a movie with AC
A couple of Sonoma County movie theaters have recently received a facelift, including Santa Rosa's Airport Stadium and Petaluma's Boulevard 14, and now come with reclining chairs, beer and wine bars, and online ticket sales allowing moviegoers to choose their seats before getting to the theater. Pro tip: Get your tickets online before the heat peaks, and then enjoy a movie and air conditioning.
Become a cave(wo)man for a day
Many Sonoma County wineries keep their wine barrels cool in underground caves, open to thirsty visitors looking to escape the heat. Head into the caves at Deerfield Ranch or Kunde Family Winery in Kenwood, Thomas George Estates on Westside Road in Russian River Valley, or Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves just outside of Healdsburg. Pro tip: Reserve a tour or private tasting ahead of the heat wave — you won't be the only one craving a caveman lifestyle when temperatures rise.
Or enjoy your wine with some AC
If you prefer to stay out of the cave but still crave some local vino, most Sonoma County tastings rooms are air conditioned. Not sure where to go? Check out these wineries to visit right now. Pro tip: In the heat, stick to whites and pinot.
Rosé all day in the kiddie pool
Prefer to stay cool in the comfort of your own yard? Get an inflatable pool. Not just for the kiddos, you can get a slightly larger version just for you. Fill it up, then grab a bottle of your favorite Sonoma County rosé from the fridge. Pro tip: Add another splash of cool pink with rose sorbet, or a cute can of brut rosé — more details here.
Get cool in a bigger pool
If a small plastic pool isn’t cutting it for you, take the family to Morton's Warm Springs in Kenwood (reservations required), or get a massage and lounge by the mineral pool at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, a luxury hotel in Sonoma Valley. For more poolside wine sipping, there's Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville (reservations required).
Hit the patio
Embrace the heat, from underneath a patio umbrella, a cold pint of beer in hand and a good meal on the table (find brewery patios here; winery patios here; and outdoor dining here). Or cool down with a cocktail and a few nibbles at one of our favorite bars for hot summer nights.
Keep the kids cool and happy
Take restless and overheated little ones to Snoopy’s Home Ice, or spend the day bowling, playing laser tag or jumping on the trampolines at Santa Rosa's (air-conditioned) Epicenter. Further north, play in the river at Memorial Beach; then order a flavorful frozen drink at Amy's Wicked Slush, just across the street. For a cheaper playdate, turn your backyard into a waterpark by adding a plastic slide to the same kiddy pool you dipped your feet into.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve (temporarily closed) offers a year-round refuge for Sonoma County visitors and locals looking to get away from it all. During summer, it's a good spot to cool down. Follow the paths meandering through the woods and take in the sounds of nature. Pro tip: Arrive early to enjoy the silence — sans selfie-snapping tourists on segways. Then head to Nimble & Finn’s in downtown Guerneville for some cool sweet scoops.
By: Shana Bull