Immerse yourself in all that California wine country has to offer in Sonoma County, just an hour north of San Francisco, and a world away from ordinary. With stunning natural beauty, world-class wines, delicious farm-to-fork food, charming small towns, and a dynamic arts scene, Sonoma County is the perfect addition to your trip to San Francisco. Here’s a quick list of the 10 best ways to discover your passion in Sonoma County.
1. Wine Tasting & Winery Tours
This is wine country after all. What better way to explore it than sipping and nibbling your way through a few of Sonoma County’s more than 425 wineries? Follow Hwy. 12 from Sonoma to Santa Rosa or drive north out of Healdsburg on Dry Creek Road to discover dozens of wineries, from high-end, high-design wine castles to charming mom-and-pop operations. Immerse yourself in the educational and culinary experiences at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. Browse the movie memorabilia at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, or savor the acclaimed multi-course wine-and-food pairing at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards. Taste wine and history at Buena Vista Winery, California’s oldest premium winery. Take a fun “tram” tour through bio-dynamic vineyards at Benziger Family Winery, and sip wine in a modern “castle” with gothic spires and archways at Ledson Winery & Vineyards. Sonoma County has it all. And if you want more than wine, follow the Sonoma County Beer, Cider & Spirits map to sample Sonoma County’s flourishing craft breweries, distilleries and cider houses.
2. Farm-Fresh Food, Acclaimed Restaurants
In Sonoma County, slow food and farm-to-fork aren’t trends; they’re a long-established way of life. Whether it’s a food truck at a local farmer’s market or a sit-down meal in one of Sonoma County’s acclaimed restaurants, expect everything to be fresh, delicious, and innovative. Local chefs are passionate about using the best Sonoma County has to offer — just-picked organic produce, handcrafted artisan cheeses, sustainably farmed meats, fresh-off-the-boat seafood — to please the palate of even the most demanding diners.
3. Walking, Hiking (& Zipping)
With more than 60 nature parks, over 200,000 acres protected from development, and miles of trails for all skill levels, Sonoma County just beckons to be explored on foot. Stroll through the serene, majestic grove at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. For more of a challenge, explore the 20 miles of trails at Austin Creek State Recreation Area. For a complete change of pace (pun intended), soar through the redwood canopy at Sonoma Canopy Tours, with seven zip lines, two sky bridges, a spiral staircase, and an 80-foot rappel.
4. Bicycle in Paradise
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, when it comes to bicycling, Sonoma County is one of the best destinations on the planet. Cycle leisurely past vineyards and along country roads, stopping at wineries or craft breweries along the way. Or tackle more challenging routes, twisting high into scenic mountains or winding along the stunning Pacific Ocean coastline. Peddle through wild wetlands, meadows overflowing with spring wildflowers, straw-colored summer hillsides dotted with oaks, or along easy trails through ranchland and vineyards along old railroad routes. Rent a bicycle or take a guided tour and create a memorable adventure by discovering Sonoma County on two wheels.
5. Explore the Russian River, Lake Sonoma
Whether your goal is to fish, explore, swim or just relax, the Russian River and Lake Sonoma offer perfect opportunities to get out on the water in a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Lake Sonoma also welcomes ski boats, jet skis and sailboats. Bring your own, rent or take a guided paddling tour exploring Sonoma County waters.
6. Discover the Stunning Pacific Coast
More than 50 miles of gorgeous coastline form Sonoma County’s western boundary, beckoning to those with a passion for beachcombing, walking bluff-top trails, or just dipping a toe into the Pacific Ocean. Snuggle into a remote inn or resort, then discover coastal wonders. Watch for migrating whales, and visit the colony of sea lions that “summers“ at Goat Rock Beach each year. Fly a kite on a two-mile stretch of sandy beach at Doran Regional Park on the southern end of the coastline, or explore the six public access trails at The Sea Ranch in the north.
7. Step Back in History
Visit the last and northernmost of the California Missions at Sonoma State Historic Park. Learn how wine tools shaped the industry at the Buena Vista, California’s oldest commercial winery. Experience life on a rancho at the Petaluma Adobe. Explore a former Russian colony perched high on a gorgeous coastal bluff at Fort Ross. Visit the final home of the famous author and adventurer at Jack London State Historic Park. Stroll through horticultural history at the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens.
8. Steep Yourself in Art
In addition to stunning vistas, Sonoma County offers a wide array of art galleries, museums and outdoor sculpture to delight the eyes and sooth the soul. From whimsical creations made of recycled materials on Sebastopol’s Florence Avenue to more than 30 works along the Sculpture Trail in Geyserville and Cloverdale, everywhere you look in Sonoma County you’ll find artistic visions brought to life.
9. Music, Music Everywhere
From small stages in local pubs, farmers markets or festivals to two world-class concert halls, music fills the air throughout Sonoma County. The Green Music Center on the Sonoma State University campus and the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa present nationally and internationally renowned performers.
10. Pampering Spas
Whether you want to snuggle into a cedar enzyme bath, have your skin rejuvenated with a Crushed Cabernet scrub, or let a massage therapist knead your stress away, Sonoma County is the perfect spot to kick back, relax and indulge yourself with pampering wellness treatments. More than 40 spas and wellness centers offer unique experience countywide.