Sonoma County is so much more than a one-trick pony when it comes to things to do. While you could certainly fill days on end sipping your way through the more than 400 wineries throughout this picturesque region (and you just might!), there are also plenty of other activities to enjoy in Sonoma if you need a break from the wine life.
With a diverse landscape that offers rolling hills, mountains, valleys, forests, and coastal areas, not to mention mild weather year-round, Sonoma County is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. From hot air ballooning to bike and kayak tours, hikes, and more, there is a multitude of fun and thrilling outdoor activities to explore. We’ve compiled a handy guide to experiencing all that Sonoma County has to offer for lovers of the outdoors.
Channel your inner Indiana Jones as you zoom through the California Coastal Redwoods at nearly 25 miles per hour with Sonoma Zipline Adventures. Each two-and-a-half-hour guided eco-adventure follows one of two courses that feature thrilling zip lines, sky bridges, a majestic spiral staircase, rappels, and the chance to appreciate some of the oldest and tallest trees in California. If you’re new to this sort of adventure, fear not: Sonoma Zipline Adventures’ friendly staff will get you situated with a thorough orientation and proper harness fitting for a safe bucket-list experience.
Insider Tip: Join the Sonoma Adventure Club to gain exclusive offers and discounts on zipline tours. This free membership features 20% off merchandise, access to special events, advance reservations to the Sonoma Treehouses, and a free birthday zipline tour.
This incredible state park, located in the Mayacamas Mountains between the Sonoma and Napa Valleys, offers 25 miles of hiking trails for experienced and casual hikers alike. The park invites visitors to experience a range of terrains, from gorges, canyons, meadows, creeks, and redwoods, to explore on foot, mountain bike, or even horseback, and offers ADA accessible trails, parking, and facilities as well. Home to the Sonoma Creek headwaters, Sugarloaf also features a dramatic 25-foot waterfall, not to mention plenty of wildlife spotting. Keep your eye out for deer, gray foxes, bobcats, and coyotes. For those who want to make an extended trip out of it, the park offers 47 family-sized campsites for the ultimate outdoor getaway.
Insider Tip: Don’t miss heading over to the Robert Ferguson Observatory within the park. It’s the largest observatory dedicated to public viewing and education, and perfect for some stargazing via their 40” telescope.
When Randy Johnson founded the company after a ski accident forced him to retreat to Calistoga for some much-needed rest and recovery, he noticed the immense healing powers that Wine Country and the small wineries he had grown to love offered. And so, Getaway Adventures was born – named out of a desire to create an experience that invited people to get away from day-to-day stress and the more frenetic pace of downtown life. Visitors can take to the river with a kayak and a paddle, bike from winery to winery, enjoy a hybrid bike-boat adventure, or simply explore the back roads of Wine Country on foot with one of the many private, group, and self-guided experiences.
Insider Tip: Don’t have the right set of wheels? Getaway Adventures provides a range of bikes to rent for your experience: Choose from a comfortable hybrid bike with upright handlebars and easy-rolling tires, a zippy e-bike, or a proper road bike for a challenging adventure.
Started by three friends with a passion for hiking, great food, and wine, who were inspired by their experiences hiking through Europe, Wine Country Trekking offers active vacations that combine all of these elements. These self-guided treks invite you to “experience luxury on foot,” and incorporate all the best aspects of outdoor adventures and premium travel amenities. Each tour is designed for you to enjoy with your own family and friends, and comes with a detailed itinerary of all of the meals, activities, and lodging planned out for you. Tours also feature premier lodging, breakfasts and lunches, winery visits, luggage transfers, and unique excursions, so that all you have to do is show up and take it all in as you go.
Insider Tip: Dinners on these treks aren’t included, but this isn’t an oversight. Wine Country Trekking knows that their trekkers tend to be passionate about uncovering the local culinary scene, so they are invited to explore dining options according to their own preferences. But fear not; descriptions and reviews of local restaurants are provided, and reservations can even be made on your behalf.
It’s tough to beat the breathtaking Wine Country views that you get while riding in a hot air balloon over the stunning Sonoma countryside. For more than two decades, Up & Away Ballooning’s pilots have treated passengers to private and group sunrise balloon rides that provide spectacular views of Sonoma Valley, vineyards, the winding Russian River, and, on clear days, the Pacific Ocean, Napa Valley, and even San Francisco. Up & Away Ballooning’s team prides itself on an impeccable safety record and top customer service, so passengers can simply relax and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.
Insider Tip: If a hot air balloon ride over Wine Country isn’t adventure enough for you, keep the fun going with the Ballooning, Bikes & Brews experience. This guided tour takes you on a nine-mile round trip through Sonoma County on hybrid bikes to many of Sonoma County’s local breweries. Beer not your thing? You can also request a winery tour instead.
Animal lovers will want to experience Sonoma County on horseback through Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma Valley. These guided tours invite riders to journey through Wine Country on trails that run through vineyards, redwoods, meadows, and gently flowing creeks. Book a 60- or 90-minute private ride, or splurge on a two-hour ride that includes a picnic lunch. Sunrise, sunset, and full-moon rides are also available, and are a truly spectacular way to experience the beauty of Sonoma Wine Country.
Insider Tip: Book the Ride & Breakfast experience, which includes a stay at Yulupa Mountain Ranch in Bennett Valley, featuring one-of-a-kind accommodations in the form of a two-story tiny house and historic cowboy bunkhouse. Here, you will also find the outdoor “soaking tub garden,” where you can take to the two claw-foot, cast-iron enameled tubs, and relax (in private) while drinking in incredible views and soaking tired muscles after a day of riding.
For a more serene outdoor experience in Sonoma, book a canoe trip through the Redwoods with Burke’s Canoe. This self-guided tour is about a 10-mile, three-and-a-half-hour journey that often takes adventurers much longer, thanks to the many opportunities to picnic, swim, and sunbathe along the way. Keep an eye out for wildlife sharing the environment with you, like otter, Great Blue Heron, osprey, turtles, egret, and more. All you have to do is show up ready for some fun, as Burke’s provides all equipment for a day on the Russian River, including paddles, life jackets, and, of course, your canoe.
Insider Tip: Those who want to make a proper getaway out of it can book one of Burke’s many tent, trailer, and RV sites, with campgrounds offering premium amenities like hot showers, clean and maintained restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, and fire rings.