It’s a quick drive north of San Francisco before you hit Sonoma County, California. That’s when you know you’ve escaped the city chaos and found your weekend getaway. Famously known as Wine Country, Sonoma is also home to lush forests and gorgeous coastlines. It’s an easy blend of wine and food with nature’s own showcase. So grab your bag and check out our weekend guide for the best of Sonoma County.
How to Get to Sonoma County
The best way to travel to Sonoma County is by car. Just 30-miles north of San Francisco, it’s close enough to make a lovely road trip with plenty to see and do along the way. Having a car means easy access to 1500 square miles of vistas and communities. The central corridor for Sonoma County is Highway 101, taking you through the heart of the region and connecting with smaller highways and towns. Highway 1 is possibly the most scenic with more than 50-miles of spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline. Highway 116 leads to Sebastopol and connects with the Russian River Valley where the river meets the sea. Highways 121 and 12 take a different route through Sonoma Valley, tucked away between Sonoma Mountain and the Mayacamas mountains. You can spend the whole weekend simply exploring all of this with a comfy car and a full tank of gas.
Alternatively, you can fly into Sonoma County Airport, taking in the aerial view of beautiful vineyards and forests filled with tall strong redwood trees. If you’re feeling a bit more energetic, explore the area by bicycle, thanks to the growing system of lightly-traveled back roads and off-road bike trails available.
Things to Do in Sonoma County
Wine and Art Pairing
Paradise Ridge Winery | 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr, Santa Rosa | prwinery.com | IG: @paradiseridge
Nestled in the heart of Sonoma County wine country is Paradise Ridge Winery, a beautiful blend of wine and art. There are many large-scale art installations featured along the driveway up to the winery building. It’s a glorious sight to see impressive art next to scenic vistas across the hills of Santa Rosa. A new 30-foot Welcome Tower has recently been added to greet you on to the property. Made from 24 reclaimed doors from home through San Francisco’s neighborhoods, it is designed to inspire us all in how we reimagine, rebuild, and reinvent. Don’t forget to take a photo with the famous steel made LOVE sculpture, a favorite with photographers all year round.
At the end of the outdoor art display, Paradise Ridge offers an amazing tasting room from Thursday through to Monday. Mix it up with their delicious chocolate pairings and learn how they use unique herb chocolates to awaken the right tastebuds for the best wine.
Take a drive to Bodega Bay
Bodega Bay on Sonoma Coast is a gorgeous escape back in time. Start with a visit to the Potter School House at 17110 Bodega Lane. It’s also known as ‘The Birds Schoolhouse’, thanks to its starring role in Alfred Hitchcock’s famous horror movie, The Birds. Yes, this is that building. And while birdwatching is a popular past-time in Bodega Bay, rest assured you won’t be seeing any violent bird attacks at the Schoolhouse or anywhere else in the area. Potter School House was originally built in 1873 and has evolved over time into a local community centre, an inn, a restaurant, and a guesthouse. It is currently a private residence but you can still take photos from the outside.
Keep driving another 10-minutes to the coast and you’ll reach Tides Wharf Restaurant, another film location. It featured in the boat dock and restaurant scenes and has kept some of The Birds memorabilia inside. Hardcore fans will also love its sister restaurant, Bay View Restaurant at the Inn at the Tides. They have a house specialty called Grilled Filet Hitchcock, with a plump juicy steak, stuffed with Dungeness crab and topped with béarnaise sauce.
Top off your day with a sunset over the water. North of Bodega Bay, you’ll find a number of great beaches to capture the perfect sunset. Goat Rock Beach’s sandy beach is easy to access with picnic tables and restroom facilities available. It is also home to a colony of harbour seals who are very photogenic but can also be unpredictable. Best to stay a good 50 yards distance. You can also stop at Schoolhouse Beach and Wright’s Beach for equally stunning views (minus the wildlife).
Cleanse the Body, Mind, and Soul
Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary | 209 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone | | IG: @osmosisdayspa
Keep your weekend feeling fresh with some special treatment just for you. Start your morning at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, tucked away on the scenic Bohemian Highway. Even driving there is a soothing experience as you wind through towering forests, rocky ravines and lush green pastures. Osmosis offers a range of spa services, including their unique Cedar Enzyme Bath, said to help with circulation and deep-skin cleansing. Relax afterwards in the meditative Zen gardens filled with peaceful serenity and a beautiful reflection pool.
EcoWisdom | Zephyr Farms Vineyard, Sebastopol | IG: @ecowisdom
Bring together the best of both worlds and join a Forest Bathing Wine Tasting Experience. EcoWisdom has created a full-sensory journey, combining the popular Wine Country with the healing presence of nature. Hosted by a certified Nature Therapy Guide and Sonoma County wine professional, you can experience a meditative practice surrounded by the forest and vineyard, focused on all of the local natural elements that make great wine. There really is nothing else like it; in Sonoma County or anywhere else.
Accommodation in Sonoma County
The Highlands | 14000 Woodland Dr, Guerneville | | IG: @highlandresort
This is truly an escape destination! Previously known as the historic Highlands Resort, The Highlands is a new and improved accommodation for any weekend in Sonoma County. Guests are greeted with freshly-baked muffins, quick bread, and scones while every cabin room features a hot tub to relax in. For something a little different, check out the all-new Coyote Camp, with canvas scout tents for glamping excursions. The fully-furnished tents are nestled under a canopy of redwoods and include a continental breakfast in the morning. The resort is LGBTQI and straight-friendly, featuring a wide choice of accommodation styles to suit every interest.
Places to Eat in Sonoma County
Sonoma County has plenty of good wholesome food options for all appetites! Most businesses in the area support local farms and sustainable produce. It’s the best way to ensure you can enjoy the real local Sonoma flavors.
Boon Eat+Drink | 16248 Main St, Guerneville | IG: @booneatdrink
It’s a short 5-minute walk from The Highlands for the best of Sonoma County’s bounty. Boon Eat+Drink is a bustling farm-to-table California bistro, open five days a week (Wednesday to Sunday). Inspired by what’s growing in the garden, the menu here focuses on seasonal and sustainable locally sourced ingredients. The salads are a colorful rainbow of edible flowers and greens. Team it with the polenta lasagne for a truly satisfying meal.
Korbel Delicatessen & Market | 13250 River Rd, Guerneville | IG: @visitkorbelwinery
Known for the Korbel California Champagne, the winery also has a Delicatessen and Market open daily. Seating is available on a first-come-first-serve basis with a menu bursting with freshness and flavour. Try one of their hand-crafted sandwiches or choose a sampler with any three items from the deli case served on a bed of spring greens. And of course, there is a range of delectable wines to complement your meal.
The Barlow | 6670 McKinley St, Sebastopol | thebarlow.net | IG: @thebarlow707
Grab a late lunch in The Barlow Market District with a huge selection of local food, wine, beer, spirits and crafts made onsite by Sonoma County artisans. Spread across 18-buildings over four downtown city blocks, the Barlow is an outdoor market district that really needs to be experienced in person. For example, check out Region! with the unique self-service wine and a range of small producers you would otherwise miss. Or visit Spirit Works Distillery, the only Sloe Gin produced in California from a made-by-women team.
BROT | 16218 Main St, Guerneville | IG: @brot_guerneville
Looking for somewhere to warm up over dinner? BROT offers a modern German menu with some delicious classics in a traditional Bavarian atmosphere. BROT translates to ‘bread’ but there is far more on offer here! We love the bread dumpling with mushroom gravy and the old-style schnitzel and fries.
The Pharmacy | 990 Sonoma Ave, Santa Rosa | IG: @thepharmacy_sonomacounty
Stop by The Pharmacy for breakfast made from local organic food. This health-minded American cafe is created from the philosophy that ‘Food is Our Medicine’. The kitchen is open and visible to all patrons, with a charming, marketplace-style setting that really carries the community feel. Check out the menu for breakfast and lunch, either to sit down and enjoy or take with you on the next road trip.
Farmacopia | 95 Montgomery Dr, Santa Rosa | IG: @farmacopia
For an extra boost to your healthy diet, visit Lily the apothecary at Farmacopia. Lily is a herbalist, nutritionist, and whole foods chef who is focused on an all-natural boost to our health. Farmacopia stocks an array of herbal medicines, nutrients, superfoods, and delicious teas–all made from responsibly sourced organic ingredients. Lily and the team at Farmacopia are well-known in the Sonoma County community, thanks to her work with The Botanical Bus, a mobile health clinic for farmworkers.
Sonoma County offers a quick escape with plenty of variety to suit your mood. Keep it breezy and explore at your own pace. The warm community will always be ready to welcome you back again.