Best Things To Do in Sonoma County California Wine Country
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Best Things To Do in Sonoma County

Best Things To Do in Sonoma County

Sonoma County, California is renowned for vineyards and winery tours. Guests arrive from around the world to sample some of the finest Chardonnays, Cabernets, and Merlots. But this picturesque region, starting 45 miles north of San Francisco, has so much more to offer. From towering redwood forests and rugged coastlines to charming antique shops and historic settlements, Sonoma County offers an amazing array of activities and sights beyond the vines. Below are some of the best things to do there, whether you're a wine enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie. We hope that this Best Things To Do in Sonoma County post inspires you. 

Best Things To Do in Sonoma County

Best Things To Do in Sonoma County

Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa, the county seat of Sonoma County is a bustling, yet welcoming community. Home of famed cartoonist Charles Schulz, it's the location of the Schulz Museum. In addition to fascinating exhibits, the exterior gardens even feature a labyrinth walk in the shape of Snoopy'shead. The museum is next door to Snoopy's Home Ice, the public skating arena where Mr. Schulz lunched daily and often played seniors hockey. In addition to its welcoming downtown, antique-filled “old town” and summertime downtown farmers market, Santa Rosa is a horticultural delight. Check out the rose gardens and spineless cacti at the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, on the south edge of downtown. If great performances are more your style, I highly recommend the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. The main theatre seats only 1600 in an intimate setting, yet consistently brings world-class acts to wine country.

Best Things To Do in Sonoma County

Sonoma Valley

Steeped in history, the town of Sonoma is home to the Spanish Sonoma mission. The Sonoma town plaza was the site of the 1846 Bear Flag “revolution”, declaring California a republic. Each spring, Sonoma plays host to the prestigious Sonoma International Film Festival. Now in its 12th year, the five-day festival is a real multi-sensory treat, pairing food, wine, music, and art with an exciting line-up of world-class film. Just outside of nearby Glen Ellen, visit the Jack London State Park where you will find the impressive ruins of the famed author's home.

Best Things To Do in Sonoma CountyHealdsburg

Healdsburg, the charming community, north of Santa Rosa is a foodie's paradise. Streets surrounding the lovely town square (complete with a gazebo) reveal 5-star dining and artisan food products galore. In between these upscale eateries are boutiques, galleries, and numerous B & B's. A great area for biking, on many mornings, hot air balloons dot the sky.

Visitors Guide to Sonoma County California

Best Shrimp Pasta with Rosa Sauce Recipe 


Remember “Back to the Future” and “Peggy Sue Got Married?” These are just two of the numerous films that have used Petaluma as a backdrop. The southernmost town in the county, Petaluma also has an active theater community including the Cinnabar Theatre. Though Petaluma is often thought of as a picturesque Victorian river town, the Petaluma River is a tidal estuary linked to San Francisco Bay. The estuary is a wonderful place for bird-watching.

Best Things To Do in Sonoma CountyWest County

For stunning natural beauty, few places rival West County. Driving west from Santa Rosa along the Russian River, visitors experience awesome redwood forests including Armstrong Woodsnear the lively river town of Guerneville (pronounced “gurn-vil”). Continuing west on River Road will reveal the tiny resort towns of Monte Rio, Duncans Mills, and eventually Jenner, where the river spills into the mighty Pacific Ocean. The majority of the Sonoma coast is publicly owned and offers a myriad of beaches, coves, and vistas. Traveling south from Jenner to the fishing town of Bodega Bay is a breathtaking journey. Other west county highlights include the bohemian hamlet of Occidental and the eclectic and artsy Sebastopol.

For the Wine Enthusiast

  • Wine tasting: Sonoma Valley is home to over 400 wineries, each offering unique experiences and varietals. From intimate family-run estates to grand historic chateaus, there's a perfect winery for every taste. This is a must-do in Sonoma County, with hundreds of wineries to choose from. From small, family-owned operations to world-renowned producers, there's something for every taste and budget. You can do winery tours, tastings, or even blend your own wine.
  • Healdsburg Plaza: This charming town square is lined with tasting rooms, restaurants, and shops. It's a great place to stroll around, sip some wine and people-watch.
  • Russian River Valley: This region is known for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Take a drive along the Russian River, stop at some wineries, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • Sonoma Coast Wine Region: This cooler climate region produces Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays with stunning ocean views. Enjoy a tasting at wineries like Keller Estate or Merry Edwards and soak in the breathtaking scenery.
  • Wine Country Train Tour: Take a scenic train ride through the vineyards on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Enjoy gourmet meals, wine tastings, and live music while admiring the rolling hills and charming towns.

For the Nature Lover

  • Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve: Hike among the towering redwood trees, some of the tallest in the world. There are trails for all levels of hikers, and the scenery is breathtaking.
  • Sonoma Coast State Beach: Explore the rugged coastline, with its dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, and tide pools. Hike, bike, kayak, or just relax on the beach.
  • Jack London State Historic Park: This park was once the home of the famous author Jack London. Hike, bike, or horseback ride through the rolling hills and forests. You can even visit London's house and learn about his life.
  • Guerneville: Nestled along the Russian River, Guerneville offers a laid-back vibe with charming shops, riverfront dining, and plenty of outdoor activities. Go kayaking, tubing, or simply relax on the beach.

For the Foodie

  • Farm-to-table cuisine: Sonoma County is known for its fresh, local ingredients. Many great restaurants serve up delicious dishes made with locally sourced produce.
  • Farmers markets: Find the freshest fruits, vegetables, and other goodies at the many farmer's markets throughout the county.
  • Food tours: Take a food tour and learn about Sonoma County's culinary scene. You'll get to try a variety of dishes from different restaurants, and you'll also learn about the history and culture of the area.

PRO TIP: For a truly unique experience, take a hot air balloon ride over the Sonoma Valley. Soar above the vineyards and witness the breathtaking beauty of the region from a bird's eye view.

Other Activities

  • Hot air ballooning: Take a hot air balloon ride over the Sonoma Valley and enjoy the stunning views.
  • Golfing: There are many world-class golf courses in Sonoma County, so grab your clubs and hit the links.
  • Spa treatments: Relax and rejuvenate with a spa treatment at one of Sonoma County's many spas.
  • Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary: Pamper yourself with a luxurious spa experience at Osmosis. Enjoy unique treatments like the Japanese enzyme bath or the cedar enzyme sauna and emerge feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
  • Museum of Sonoma County: Learn about the history and culture of Sonoma County through exhibits on art, winemaking, and Native American heritage.

Tips for planning your trip to Sonoma County

  • The best time to visit Sonoma County is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller.
  • If you're on a budget, there are many affordable places to stay and eat in Sonoma County.
  • Be sure to rent a car, as public transportation is limited in the area.
  • Allow plenty of time for your trip, as there is so much to see and do in Sonoma County.
  • If you're interested in wine tasting, consider booking a tour or hiring a driver, so you can relax and enjoy the experience.
  • Be sure to pack comfortable shoes and layers, as the weather can change quickly.
  • Don't forget to try the local food! Sonoma County is a foodie paradise, so be sure to sample the fresh, seasonal ingredients.
  • Most importantly, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and laid-back lifestyle of Sonoma County.

Sonoma County is a truly special place, offering something for everyone. Sonoma County is one of my favorite places on earth and my suggestions only brush the surface of things to do and places to see. Certainly, go for the wine country experience, but be sure to make plenty of time to discover things “beyond the vines”. For more information and tips, check out the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau. We hope that you are inspired by this Visitors Guide to Sonoma County California. Happy travels!

Best Things To Do in Sonoma County

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10 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Pingback: 5 Must Visit Wineries Napa Valley California Wine Country

  2. That looks idyllic! I want to visit wine country in CA one day. We have a lot of wineries out here in VA too 🙂

  3. Shannon

    Oh,  that looks absolutely gorgeous! I’ve been to California but not there so I’d love to visit sometime! 

  4. Amy

    Wow, so this is where so many wines are made huh? This place looks amazing to relax and visit with my husband!

  5. I was born and raised not far from Sonoma – in San Luis Obispo. I always LOVED visiting Sonoma. It’s absolutely one of the most breath-taking places in California, for sure!

  6. Pam

    I have always wanted to visit California’s wine country. It seems so beautiful to see.

  7. krystal

    I have yet to visit the west coast. I’d love to – the weather difference is enough to make me wanna go!

  8. Sarah

    OH my, so pretty! I’d love to visit California, especially wine country. It looks stunning!

  9. Reesa Lewandowski

    Oh I have always wanted to go to Sonoma. It’s just so beautiful!

  10. Kiwi

    I never heard of Sonoma County Cali. Thanks for the mini guide I am open to exploring all type of places in California!

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