12 Things to Do in Sonoma Valley

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There are 23 cities in Sonoma Valley, and each offers a unique slice of what makes this region so unique. Wine isn’t the only thing these picturesque towns have to offer: Hiking, eating, and even ballooning are just a handful of the ways to spend an afternoon or two. Here are our top picks of things to do in Sonoma Valley.

Adventure Awaits

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Sonoma Canopy Tours
6250 Bohemian Highway
Occidental, CA 95465
(888) 494-7868
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 418 reviews

Get up in the trees with Sonoma Canopy Tours, where a variety of zipline experiences are on call. Whiz over crossing bridges, shoot through a canopy of very, very tall trees, and, after the initial rush has subsided, enjoy the natural, unspoiled splendor of Sonoma Valley’s natural side. Insider tip: It can get a bit chilly; if your tour is later in the day, be sure to bring a jacket as the temperature can drop significantly when the sun sets

Eat Your Heart Out

sante-680 Image Source: Yelp

Santé in Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
103 E Napa St., Suite A
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 933-2600
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 181 reviews
Reservations: Not required but recommended

Michelin Star-ranked Santé Restaurant at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa deserves every bit of its critical acclaim—not a surprise with a menu that features dishes like Sebastopol mushroom and asparagus quiche and chicken-fried quail during brunch. The eatery also boasts its use of California’s bounty of fresh ingredients along with the area’s finest wines and crispest bubbly. Insider tip: If a decadent dessert is in order, try the chocolate soufflé—It’s big enough for two people to share.

Tasting in the Sky

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Wine Country Balloons
397 Aviation Blvd, Ste A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 538-7359
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 81 reviews

For a different perspective of Sonoma County, Wine Country Balloon Tours offers breathtaking views of Sonoma County from the privacy of a hot air balloon. Views of the Pacific Ocean, San Andreas fault, and Mt. St. Helena can all be seen on a clear day for a breathtaking peek at the northern California countryside. Insider tip: Arrive early or stay a bit late to help fill or deflate the balloons.

Sit Back and Relax

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Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
100 Boyes Blvd.
Sonoma, CA 95476
(877) 289-7354
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 648 reviews

Just a short drive from downtown Sonoma, this Spanish Mission–style inn was built on an ancient thermal mineral spring, known by Native Americans for its healing powers. Today, these hot waters are part of the luxury resort’s Willow Stream Spa, featuring a bevy of relaxing. Active and adventurous couples can play a round of golf at the 18-hole championship Sonoma Golf Course, or have a match of tennis on the clay courts. Yoga classes, area bike tours, and complimentary guided hikes fill out the active pairs’ schedules in a setting that never sacrifices for intimacy—especially in the impeccably decorated, Provence-style suites equipped with fireplaces, flat screen televisions, and mini-bars. Insider tip: Meet in the lobby from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for a daily afternoon wine tasting.

A Unique Wine Tour

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Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley
21707 8th Street East Suite B
Sonoma, CA 95476
(877) 946-3876
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 285 reviews

The Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley offers the wine experience on wheels. Stop by four boutique wineries and enjoy a catered, laid-back picnic style lunch by The Girl & The Fig eatery—a destination for the food obsessed. A cost-effective tour of Sonoma County for those itching to immerse themselves in the wine scene, the trolley ride lasts about six hours, leaving plenty of time for a quick shopping stop or bite to eat, all for $99 per person. Insider tip: The Wine Trolley a hand-built replica of a California Street Cable Car, the type that was used in San Francisco from the late 1890s to the early 1930s.

How Sonoma Does Movie Night

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Sonoma International Film Festival
103 E Napa St., Suite A
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 933-2600

Beloved by critics, cinephiles, and onlookers alike, the Sonoma International Film Festival highlights indie films, documentaries and foreign films (including a wide showing of Spanish language works), all under the umbrella of Sonoma culture. This year’s festival runs from March 30 to April 3, and with 90 films on the roster, movie buffs won’t be bored for a moment. Insider tip: The festival coincides with winery offerings and food prepared by some of Sonoma County’s most talented culinary minds.

Channel Your Picasso

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Artescape
17474 Sonoma Highway
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 938-5551

If creativity feeds the soul, Artescape is the kitchen. A variety of art classes are offered year-round, and dependant on when a visit to Sonoma is planned, classes will cover paint, sculpture, design, remembrance boxes, glass powder stenciling—the only limits are the imagination. And because this is Sonoma, periodic exhibitions coincide with, offerings of food, wine, and music. Insider tip: Artescape is a great activity for families, and hands-on workshops and programs cater to all ages.

Elegant Dining

madrona-manor-680 Image Source: Madrona Manor

Madrona Manor
1001 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433-4231
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 226 reviews
Reservations: Not required but strongly recommended

It takes something special to keep a restaurant open for more than a year, let alone 100. Madrona Manor in Healdsburg has been operational since 1881, and in addition to its spot on the National Register of Historic Places, the kitchen at this elegant establishment is certainly something to write home about: Elegance translates to the dishes, with offerings like charcoal-roasted Sebastopol quail and pork confit with dandelion. Insider tip: Old-fashioned meets high-tech at the end of the meal, when nitrogen ice cream can be prepared tableside.

Soak Up the Sun

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Sugarloaf Ridge Park
2605 Adobe Canyon Rd
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 833-5712
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 44 reviews

Pop a tent, throw on the hiking boots, and enjoy the outdoors at one of Sonoma’s many parks. Sugarloaf Ridge Park offers campgrounds, trails for biking and hiking, plus an observatory fit for studying the skies. On clear days, the view extends all the way to the stunning Sierra Nevadas. Insider tip: Every Friday from Memorial Day through Labor Day, catch “Funky Fridays” with live music at the amphitheater.

Great for Families

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Spring Lake Regional Park
393 Violetti Road
Santa Rosa, CA
(707) 539-8092
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 111 reviews

Spring Lake Regional Park features a 3-acre lagoon (an excellent way to cool down after a hoe summer’s day) and a giant 72-acre lake for boating and fishing. The park also hosts Family Nature Walks on the third Saturday of each month, geared toward acquainting the little ones with the nuances of the California wilderness. Insider tip: Don’t worry about being able to camp in comfort; the park has plenty of modern-day amenities including clean bathrooms and grills.

So much more than a home to world-class wines, Sonoma Valley abounds with adventures limited only to the imagination. The result are memories destined to last a lifetime.


Author

WineCountry Staff

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