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California: a weekend in Sonoma

A weekend in Sonoma is a charming place to visit!

I write this post sitting up in bed at the Vintners Resort on a misty winter’s morning. It’s the cutest hotel room – with its own fireplace! Admittedly it gives off no heat and is more about ambience than practicalities, but it sure looks the part 🙂

It would make the perfect start for a girls weekend in Sonoma and there are some delicious foods you really to try too!

Vintners Inn Sonoma
Quite possibly the cutest hotel in Sonoma!

There really are so many great things to do in Sonoma, but this is my first visit to California’s famous wine country so read on to see a few things that surprised me about Napa’s big sister…

You could even base here and use it for other day trips along the California coast to places like Napa.

Here are 5 things you may not know about Sonoma

Sonoma Valley
Plan your winery day in advance!

1. There’s Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Town

And Sonoma County is huge. One million acres huge (404,686 hectares) covered with 500 wineries and 400 of them have cellar doors for your tasting pleasure.

Sonoma Valley is just one of five separate wine growing valleys in Sonoma County, so if you’re planning a tasting day, make sure you’re not picking vineyards that might be a 2-hour drive apart!

2. Peanuts!

Famous cartoonist Charles M Schulz lived here in Sonoma County (his wife and kids still do) and there is a museum in his honour with some of the 17,000 Charlie Brown strips Schulz produced.

The photo below shows a wall in the back of the room made of ceramic tiles of all his cartoons. Very clever. He lived just down the road and his office has been recreated here.

Schulz wall
Stand up close and you can see the 3,588 tiles of his comic strips that make this image

The man was a machine producing a cartoon every day, many of them funny, some political and most with a little spin on what was going on at the time.

So proud of Charlie Brown they are in Sonoma that the local airport is named Charles M Schulz airport and features life-size figurines to greet incomers.

3. Visit the Redwoods

Sonoma is also giant redwood country and a trip to Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve to walk their gentle tracks is awesome. Especially if you can wing it, like I did, that no one else is around and it’s just you and the sound of silence in the woods.

Allow at least an hour. I needed two hours for all the stopping and photographing I did.

Armstrong Redwoods root
Redwood root art

4. Sonoma is on the coast!

It’s rugged out here. It’s like Big Sur, further south of San Francisco, and the west coast sunsets are amazing.

A gorgeous thing to do would be to pick up a bottle of wine, grab a picnic or cheese from one of the many cheesemakers in the area (have a look at this cheese trail map) and head to the beach to watch the aforementioned sun setting over Bodega Bay.

Sonoma is one of the most beautiful stops on a San Francisco to Mendocino road trip.

Bodega Bay on the Sonoma coast
Bodega Bay on the Sonoma coast

3 fun things to do in Sonoma

1. Visit Bodega Bay

Alfred Hitchcock’s horror movie Birds was filmed here and die-hard fans, as well as the curious, can visit the General Store and pick up some memorabilia and take photos of Potters school house.

Potter school house Sonoma
Potter school house from Hitchcock’s movie

2. Take a wine and food tasting walking tour

I took a wine country walking tour meeting in Healdsburg, where the rotunda was decorated for Christmas and surrounding restaurants provided freshly cooked treats and wine tasting rooms meant we didn’t need to walk far to taste lots of varieties.

3. Take a cooking class

I joined up with Relish Culinary Adventures and learned how to make Christmas appetisers. There were about 12 of us, then we all got to sit down and eat the product of our hands!

Frequently asked questions

Where is Sonoma County?

Sonoma County is just north of San Francisco and is bordered by Napa Valley running along its eastern side.

Sonoma County map
Sonoma County on the map

How far is Sonoma from San Francisco?

About 45 miles and will take about an hour to Sonoma town.

How far is Sonoma from Napa?

Well Napa Valley runs all the way up the western boundary of Sonoma County. The distance from Santa Rosa to Yountville is about 28 miles and will take about 50 minutes to drive.

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!