How to Get To Sonoma County

  • Things To Do
  • on FEBRUARY 18, 2023
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Things To Do

How to Get To Sonoma County

By WineCountry Collective February 18, 2023

With over 500 wineries, Sonoma County is an essential vacation spot for wine lovers everywhere. Sonoma is just an hour from San Francisco, giving you several airport options, each with unique perks and charms to ensure a great start to your trip. Whether you’re traveling on a budget, trying to avoid the crowd, or itching to get to Wine Country as quickly as possible, there’s an airport for you.

Best Choice for Proximity: Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport (STS)

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.

Many flights into STS are charters and small private planes, so if you’re flying in your private plane this is your obvious choice, but there are plenty of nonstop flights with major airline carriers, too. Alaska Airlines offers flights to/from Los Angeles, Burbank, Orange County, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle; American Airlines flies to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor and Dallas; Avelo Airlines flies to/from Burbank, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs. Feel like extending your vacation to a far away locale? All the airlines offer a wide-range of connecting flights to destinations in the continental U.S., Mexico, and beyond.

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, pick-up an Uber or Lyft ride share, or rent a car from Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Ace Rent-a-Car and drive the length of the valley. You can also catch a Sonoma County Transit (707.576.7433) or Mendocino Transit Authority (707.462.1422) bus. Airport Express (707.837.8700) 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

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 American, Southwest and Jetblue flights, Terminal 2 handling Air Canada, Alaska, Breeze, and Delta flights, and Terminal 3 handling United flights. 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. California Wine Tours also offers a shuttle service to and from the airport to Sonoma as well as private and group wine tours.

Best Choice for the Budget: Oakland International Airport

Oakland International Airport
Photo Courtesy of Oakland International Airport

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 is 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, Allegiant, Contour, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, 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, West Coast Shuttle & Limo, and both California Wine Tours and Napa Valley Tours & Transportation will provide door-to-door service anywhere in Sonoma County by appointment.

Best Choice for Avoiding Crowds: Sacramento International Airport

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, Frontier, Hawaiian,Horizon, JetBlue, Spirit, Volaris, and Southwest flights; American, Delta, United, and Air Canada 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 or Napa Valley Tours and Transportation.