Located north of San Francisco Bay, Sonoma County is an easy excursion for travelers throughout the United States and world. Which airport you choose to get there depends on your budget, itinerary and travel preferences, but each of the four airports closest to Sonoma has its benefits.
Best Choice for Proximity: Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport
Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport
2290 Airport Boulevard
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Nestled in the hills almost within spitting distance of at least a dozen wineries, Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS) is undoubtedly the most convenient option for inbound travelers to Sonoma. Named for longtime resident Charles M. Schulz, the intimate airstrip is festooned with Peanuts characters, with Snoopy-as-flying-ace practically its mascot.
Most flights into STS are charters and small private planes, so if you’re flying in your private plane this is your obvious choice. Alaska Airlines offers scheduled service to STS from Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego—and on the return trip, your first case of wine flies free. Allegiant flies to STS from Las Vegas and Phoenix two days a week, and American is expected to launch service from Phoenix in 2017.
Arriving passengers may pay more to drop directly into the valley, but ground transportation couldn’t be simpler. Walk outside the single-gate terminal to hail a cab to downtown Santa Rosa, rent a car from Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, National, or Sixt and drive the length of the valley, or catch a Sonoma County Transit
707.576.7433 bus. Airport Express
Call 707.837.8700 Toll Free 800.327.2024 also connects STS to Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, SFO and OAK.
Whether you choose STS for a whirlwind winery tour, SFO as the jumping-off point for a tour of Northern California, or any option in-between, all four gateways make Sonoma easy to enjoy. You may not want to leave, but when you do, the airports on our list will deliver you—and perhaps a few wine finds—safely back home.
Best Choice For Flight Options: San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport
780 S Airport Blvd,
San Francisco, CA 94128
With more than 50 million passengers passing through its gates every year, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is busy. The compact West Coast hub is a well-oiled machine, though, with relatively few delays, an easy-to-navigate configuration, premium shopping and dining options, and service from more than 50 domestic and international carriers.
Domestic passengers deplane in Terminal 1, 2 and 3, with Terminal 1 handling Delta, Southwest and Frontier flights, Terminal 2 handling American and Virgin America, and Terminal 3 United. Terminals 2 and 3 offer bars and shops for wine aficionados, and the AirTrain links all three and the International Terminal easily.
Travelers wishing to take a leisurely drive through Sonoma—preferably in a convertible, weather permitting—will need to rent a car. SFO offers multiple options here, too: Take a Blue Line AirTrain from any terminal to access the nine agencies housed at the onsite rental car center. It’s a 56-mile drive to Sonoma, Calif., via the Golden Gate Bridge; there’s no toll on the outbound trip, but traffic may add to drive times.
To get to Sonoma County sans car, catch an Airport Express
Call 707.837.8700 Toll Free 800.327.2024 from any “Airporter” stop, located at the baggage claim level in each terminal. Fares are $32.00 each way to Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sonoma County Airport.
Best Choice for the Budget: Oakland International Airport
Oakland International Airport
1 Airport Drive
Oakland, CA 94621
Serving about one-fifth the travelers of SFO, Oakland International Airport (OAK), has just 32 gates in two terminals, making it easy to get where you’re going. Low ceilings and gray terrazzo can make the airport feel cramped, but Oakland makes up for what it lacks in glitz with convenience and savings. No-frills carrier Southwest is the biggest player here, making airfares competitive.
Oakland International also almost exactly the same distance from Sonoma as SFO—only 58 miles via the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. Shuttle buses serve the airport’s rental car center around the clock from Terminal 1 (Alaska, American, Allegiant, Boutique, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Norwegian, SATA, Spirit and Volaris airlines) and Terminal 2 (Southwest).
Those who’d rather avoid driving should head to Ground Transportation Center outside the baggage claim area and the platform marked “4D Scheduled Buses.” Airport Express
Call 707.837.8700 Toll Free 800.327.2024 picks up there every two hours from 6:15 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. to take wine country visitors to Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sonoma County Airport for $34 each way. Additional shuttles from Bay Star, Super Shuttle and West Coast Shuttle & Limo will provide door-to-door service anywhere in Sonoma County by appointment.
Best Choice for Avoiding Crowds: Sacramento International Airport
Sacramento International Airport
6900 Airport Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95837
Passengers may pay somewhat more to fly into Sacramento International Airport (SMF), but will enjoy its ease and open, airy environment. Thanks to a $1 billion modernization project, Sacramento’s 32 gates offer a big-city travel experience at a manageable scale. Still just 73 miles from Sonoma, SMF handles non-stops from 30 U.S. cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Denver.
Completed in 2012, Terminal B (and its futuristic people mover) handle Aeromexico, Alaska, Hawaiian, Volaris, Seaport, and Southwest flights; American, Delta and JetBlue operate out of Terminal A. Catch a shuttle at ground level in either terminal to visit the onsite rental car terminal; they arrive every 10 minutes.
Shuttle transportation to Sonoma is more challenging—but not impossible—from Sacramento. Contact Napa Airporter
707.252.1900 to reserve shared shuttle service ($90–$150 per person, depending on destination). For a more upscale option, arrange for a limousine or town car pick up directly from the airport with Beau Wine Tours