Sonoma County is one of the most diverse areas in all of California, filled with hundreds of wineries, miles of rugged coastline, and dozens of charming towns throughout picturesque landscapes. And, while Sonoma County is known for its world-class wine – from chardonnay and pinot noir to merlot and zinfandel – Sonoma offers so much more than just wine tasting. Farm-to-table restaurants, rejuvenating spas, and beautiful hotels further exemplify the Sonoma County experience.
With so many offerings, we are the first to admit that planning a Sonoma Wine Country vacation can be a little overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors. Before you pack your bags, check out our handy guide to Sonoma County’s most popular destinations. Whether you have 24-hours or are planning a lengthy visit, we’ll help you make the most of your time in Wine Country!
Located within the Russian River Valley, Healdsburg is a mecca for good food and wine. With charming storefronts, downtown tasting rooms, and a plethora of delicious eateries surrounding the town square, Healdsburg is a great choice for those oenophiles preferring to explore by foot.
This boutique hotel in downtown Healdsburg exudes sophisticated charm in the heart of Wine Country, offering a relaxing pool, onsite spa, and critically-acclaimed restaurant, Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. The restaurant, with its creative, seasonally-driven American menu, is a dining option not to be missed.
Valette is the result of two talented brothers creating quintessential California cuisine, where acclaimed dishes highlight seasonal and organic ingredients in an upscale, Wine Country atmosphere.
Located just south of town, J Vineyards & Winery’s newly renovated visitor center brings wine, food, and hospitality together for an immersive experience not to be missed. Enjoy a relaxed tasting of their sparkling wines and pinots on the terrace, a tour of the facility, or an educational five-course wine and food pairing in their elegant Bubble Room – there’s plenty of experiences to choose from.
Founded in 1881, Oakville Grocery is the oldest continuously operating grocery store in California. You’ll find gourmet sandwiches and picnic-friendly fare, as well as a nice selection of local wines all within an Old West-like ambiance.
Located just 53-miles from San Francisco, Sonoma offers an idyllic climate, beautiful hotels, and some of the area’s best wineries and eateries.
This breathtaking resort and spa is the ultimate luxury accommodation offering amenities like a rejuvenating spa, championship golf course, and a Michelin-starred restaurant – all within minutes of downtown Sonoma.
And, if that’s not enough, we’ve got an added reason to book your Sonoma stay. Leverage WineCountry Perks to book your room and enjoy 25% off the hotel’s best rates, complimentary wine tasting and in-room bottles, and specials on food and beverages.
Located off the historic Sonoma Plaza, The Girl & The Fig has been dishing up French-inspired Wine Country cuisine since 1997. With a rotating menu that reflects what’s in season, a full bar, and tasty Sunday brunch, it’s a popular spot and for good reason.
Known for chardonnay and pinot noir, Ram’s Gate impresses with its rustic and contemporary architecture, wine tastings with optional food pairings, and epic views.
Chock full of art galleries, restaurants, and tasting rooms, the historic Sonoma Plaza is a charming place to stroll, shop, wine, and dine.
Home to 55 miles of rugged and awe-inspiring coastline, the Sonoma Coast is a dream destination for fishermen, surfers, seafood lovers, and wine enthusiasts alike, especially those that love cooler climate chardonnay and pinot noir.
Tucked away on the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean, this sprawling resort offers panoramic views, a romantic setting, and plenty of seclusion. In fact, the area has minimal cell reception, so you can fully unplug and unwind.
Need an extra push to get coastal? Book your getaway at Timber Cove Resort through WineCountry Perks and receive exclusive offers like a welcoming bottle of Sonoma wine, food and beverage credit, late check out, and free WiFi.
Located in the town of Bodega Bay, The Inn at the Tides is a great family-friendly inn, but if you’re not staying here, be sure to pay a visit to the restaurant. Here, you can enjoy fresh seafood and local wine while savoring the breathtaking ocean views.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Fort Ross Vineyard’s tasting room is the first and only tasting room along the coast in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. Bring a picnic and enjoy the scenery while you sample the single-vineyard estate wines.
Santa Rosa is a centrally located destination providing easy access to all that Wine Country has to offer, including world-class wineries, a burgeoning culinary scene, interesting attractions, and plenty of history.
Vintners Resort makes it easy to enjoy a relaxing visit to Wine Country, complete with 92-acres of surrounding vineyards, full service spa, and serene gardens. It’s truly a luxurious oasis in Santa Rosa.
Though Nepali/Indian cuisine isn’t the first thing that comes to mind during a visit to Sonoma, this local favorite has some of the best ethnic food in the region. From tandoories to curries and fragrant soups, all items are organic, vegan, gluten free, and delicious.
Established in 1978, St. Francis Winery has been a favorite for its picture-perfect grounds, wide variety of limited production wines, and impressive wine and food pairings. Be sure to sample their fruit-driven, spicy Old Vine Zinfandel, and during the summer months, extend your visit for the outdoor movie nights.
Yes, you can enjoy a fun safari adventure right in the heart of Wine Country! At the 400-acre wildlife sanctuary Safari West, view cheetahs, giraffes, monkeys, and zebras – all without a plane ride to Africa.
Guerneville (pronounced Gern-ville) is a small, colorful community along the Russian River, where people flock in the summer months for sunshine, canoeing, and lazy river tubing. It’s also surrounded by redwoods and hiking trails, making it a beautiful place to visit regardless of the time of year.
Modern and minimalistic, the 14-room boon hotel is a top choice for those looking for more of an eco-chic than rustic place to stay. The vibe is chill and uber-cool, and a solar-heated saline pool, organic bed linens, and complimentary cruisers add to the overall experience.
In need of a strong drink to warm you up on a chilly evening? El Barrio is your spot. A variety of tequila and mezcal flights and cocktails can be enjoyed alongside tasty bites like goat cheese queso and Mexican deviled eggs.
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery has specialized in chardonnay and pinot noir since 1982. The winery, built in 2000, sits atop a ridge overlooking the valley offering spectacular views while you sip.
Armstrong Redwoods may be a short drive from the town of Guerneville, but you’ll feel a million miles away while hiking amongst the majestic redwoods, most of which are over 500 years old. The largest tree in the park, standing at 310 feet high, also happens to be the oldest at 1,400 years old!
Known for its premiere cool climate chardonnay and pinot noir – and some of California’s most impressive zinfandels, for that matter – the Russian River Valley charms with its winding roads, towering redwoods, and hidden river communities.
Run by a fifth-generation Sonoma family, Farmhouse Inn is a luxury bed and breakfast with a perfectly romantic and relaxing vibe. Rustic yet chic decor, incredible views, an onsite spa, and acclaimed restaurant make the Farmhouse Inn a top notch Wine Country escape.
Located inside the Farmhouse Inn, this must-visit restaurant is known for its Michelin-starred chef, thoughtful wine pairings, and ever-changing American menu highlighting locally-sourced ingredients.
Head to Iron Horse for their variety of sparkling and still wines, which you can sample from the rustic outdoor tasting room overlooking the vineyards below.
If sight-seeing while staying active appeals to you, check out the picturesque Bodega Bay to Healdsburg expedition from Wine Country Trekking. You’ll hike three to six miles a day as you venture from the coast inland, passing through majestic redwood forests and world-famous wineries in the Russian River Valley before ending the five day trek with wine, food, and an overnight stay in Healdsburg.
Northern Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley is home to small yet charming towns like Cloverdale and Geyserville, as well as over 100 wineries. Here, you’ll find plenty of locally made artwork, friendly people, and excellent red wines, including cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
Sonoma may be known for its pricey, luxury accommodations, but the Geyserville Inn offers a more affordable place to rest your head. Added features include complimentary Wi-Fi and an outdoor pool, and if you’re planning to bring Fido, the place is also pet-friendly.
Set in a historic landmark building dating back to the 1900s, Diavola offers rustic Italian food in a vibrant, comfortable setting. Don’t miss the house-cured meats, handmade pastas, and, of course, the wood-fired pizzas.
This hidden gem serves handcrafted drinks with fresh, organic ingredients straight from the garden. Sit outside and soak up the views, and be sure to check out the live music and food trucks on Sundays!
For those looking to hit the great outdoors, head to Lake Sonoma for a day of water skiing or fishing. The area is also great for hiking, mountain biking, and camping, if you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in nature.
Offering a wide range of accommodations from quaint B&Bs to five-star hotels, charming eateries, and the convenience of being within an hour of San Francisco, Petaluma is a wonderful destination for a getaway in Sonoma County.
Occupying a renovated mansion from the 1870s, Metro Hotel & Cafe offers an unexpectedly eclectic, French-inspired ambiance that is funky and unique. Complimentary organic coffee and pastries, as well as crepes to write home about, further enhance a stay here.
Serving California farmhouse cuisine using only local and seasonal ingredients, Topsy’s Kitchen offers tasty food in a relaxing ambiance. Don’t miss the famous fried chicken!
With so many options for wine, Lagunitas offers a welcome respite from the grape juice. A large selection of craft beers, live music, and a laid-back outdoor patio make for a fun, lively experience.
Learn about Sonoma County’s history while you walk alongside prickly pear cacti and cattle to the park’s main attraction: the historic adobe building. Constructed in the early 19th Century, the adobe structure gives an interesting look into California’s early days.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Sonoma, a frequent visitor, or practically a local, we’re sure our guide to Sonoma County will help you make the most of this special place.
Cover image courtesy of Facebook: Iron Horse Vineyards