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Visitors Guide to Sonoma County California
Visitors Guide to Sonoma County California
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. We hope that you enjoy this Visitors Guide to Sonoma County California.
This county seat of Sonoma County, is a bustling, yet welcoming community. Home of famed cartoonist Charles Schulz, it's the location of theSchulz Museum. In addition to fascinating exhibits, the exterior gardens even featuresa labyrinth walk in that shape of Snoopy'shead. The museum is next door to Snoopy's Home Ice, the public skating arena where Mr. Schulz lunched daily and oftenplayed 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.
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 prestigiousSonoma International Film Festival. Now in its 12th year, the five day festival it 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.
This charming community, north of Santa Rosa is a foodie's paradise. Streets surrounding the lovely town square (complete with 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.
Remember “Back to the Future” and “Peggy Sue Got Married?” These are just two of numerous films that have used Petaluma as a backdrop. The southern most town in the county, Petaluma also has an active theater community including theCinnabar theatre.ThoughPetaluma is oftenthought of as a picturesque Victorian river town, the Petaluma River is actually a tidal estuary linked to San Francisco Bay. The estuary is a wonderful place for bird-watching.
For stunning natural beauty, few places rival the west county. Driving west from Santa Rosa along the Russian River, visitors experience awesome redwood forests includingArmstrong 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.
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 (www.sonoma.com). We hope that you are inspired by this Visitors Guide to Sonoma County California. Happy travels!