Bucket List Road Trip with Dad
These last few dramatic years, two life lessons have become especially important: Don't wait to do the things you really want to do, and spend as much time as possible with the people who matter most. Put these two together, and you and your dad (or favorite dad figure) are halfway to that Sonoma County road trip you've always meant to take.
As Father's Day approaches, here are some ideas for the Sonoma County road trip of your and your dad's Wine Country dreams!
Hit the Links
Whether you grew up golfing with your pop, or the two of you have long wanted to play a green together, Sonoma County is an unsung haven for golfers. In every corner of the county, you'll find playful resort courses for beginners and challenging links for pin-seekers chasing par.
For instance, the Windsor Golf Club — a former stop on the PGA Nationwide Tour — offers a challenging layout through a gently rolling landscape dotted with lakes, a meandering creek, and majestic oaks. And the 177-acre Sonoma Golf Club at the Sonoma Mission Inn is highlighted by sweeping vistas of the Mayacamas Mountains and neighboring vineyards, with a balanced blend of long and short holes.
Other Sonoma County golf courses, all of which allow you and Dad to book non-member tee times, include: Bennett Valley Golf Course, Fairgrounds Golf Course, and Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club, all in Santa Rosa; Foxtail Golf Club in Rohnert Park; Mayacama Golf Club in Healdsburg; Sebastopol Golf Course in Sebastopol; and Petaluma Golf & Country Club and Rooster Run Golf Club, both in Petaluma.
Tour a Winery — With a Twist
There are 425 wineries throughout Sonoma County, so if your dad is an oenophile (wine lover), you're both in luck. You could certainly book a few tastings at his favorite spots, but why not take your visit(s) up a notch? Download this Wine Country road trip playlist, and book some unusual winery experiences you and your dad will always remember — like these:
With 800 acres of vineyards and redwoods, there’s plenty to see at Chenoweth Wines in Sebastopol — and you and your dad can tour it all in a Utility-Terrain Vehicle (UTV). During the hour-and-a-half UTV Tasting and Vineyard Tour, your guide will drive you and your pop throughout this gorgeous property, offering you tastes of Chenoweth's Pinots, whites, and rose along the way. Feel free to bring a picnic and stay awhile.
Triple Creek Horse Outfit offers guided horseback tours at Jack London State Historic Park, where riding trails wind through the famous author's Beauty Ranch, around acres of vineyards, through open oak woodlands, and under shady groves of majestic redwoods. Your three-hour experience includes a wine tasting at nearby VJB Cellars in Kenwood, where you'll also find a gourmet Italian deli with wood-fired pizza, gelato and more.
Three Sticks Wines in Sonoma offers a private tasting room in the restored 1842 Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe, the longest occupied residence in Sonoma and one of the town’s few remaining buildings from California’s Mexican period. You and your dad can tour the Adobe and take in the history while tasting Three Sticks' Pinots and Chardonnays, then finish the experience with a meal prepared by the neighboring El Dorado Kitchen.
Lift Your Dad's Spirits
If your father prefers spirits to wine, not to worry — the Sonoma County Distillery Pass has you covered. When you purchase a 1-day, 2-day, or 90-day pass, you'll have access to exclusive pricing on tastings at nine great distilleries in Sonoma County, including Sonoma Brothers in Sonoma, Griffo Distillery in Petaluma, and Spirit Works in Sebastopol.
In Sonoma County, you and your dad can taste everything from whiskey and gin to vodka and apple brandy. To help you find spirits that will warm your pop's, well, spirit, check out 5 Sonoma County Distilleries You Should Know and Beyond Wine: 8 Sonoma County Tasting Rooms for a Taste of Something Different.
Explore Sonoma County History
If your dad is a history buff, the fascinating history of Sonoma County makes for a great roadmap. Every town has its own unique array of museums, monuments, and landmarks.
An ideal place to start is Santa Rosa's California Indian Museum and Cultural Center, which explores California's history and culture from a uniquely Native American perspective, including that of the Pomo, Coast Miwok, and Wappo tribes who have lived in the area for more than 4,000 years. Also visit the nearby Museum of Sonoma County to see local photos, artwork, and objects from the 19th century on.
In the town of Sonoma, you and Dad could spend days immersed in Sonoma County history. Start with the 1823 Mission San Francisco Solano, the Spanish Franciscan order's northernmost mission in California. Then explore Mexican-era landmarks like the Sonoma Barracks, La Casa Grande, and General Vallejo's Home to learn about life in the area before and after the Bear Flag Rebellion of 1846. Also swing by the Depot Park Museum to explore more of Sonoma Valley's cultural history.
Others stops Dad might enjoy? The Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society, set in the city's former Carnegie Library; and Petaluma’s well-preserved downtown, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and home to the stately Petaluma Historical Library & Museum.
Attend a Music or Food Festival
There are three big festivals coming to Sonoma County this Father's Day Weekend, and one (or more) might just be up your dad's alley:
Country Summer Music Festival: Friday, June 17 to Sunday, June 19 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, this event will feature 20+ Country acts on two stages.
North Coast Wine & Food Festival: Saturday, June 18 from 1-4 p.m. at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, this event includes cuisine from 30 of the region’s top chefs, as well as 90 gold-medal-winning wines from the North Coast Wine Challenge.
Healdsburg Jazz Festival: Held at various venues around Healdsburg between Monday, June 13 and Sunday, June 19, this jazz-centric festival presents a mix of Grammy Award winners, rising stars, local personalities, and master improvisers. Go, Daddy-o!
For even more ways to celebrate Dad on Father's Day (or the day before), check out our events page for Sunday brunches; family-friendly, multi-generational outings; deals; and special offers!
Written by Melanie Wynne