Sonoma Travel Guide

  • Things to Do
    by Agraichen
  • Things to Do
    by Agraichen
  • Old Town Hall
    Old Town Hall
    by TexasDave

Sonoma Things to Do

  • Sonoma Town Center

    Take sometime to visit the center of Sonoma and explore some of the side streets. There are wall paintings, shops and great restaurants. Beautiful, quiet park to enjoy and some interesting characters if you are into people watching.

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  • Sonoma Mission

    The Sonoma Mission sits just a block from the corner of the Town Plaza. It is the last of twenty one missions that begins in San Diego. The mission was built in 1823 and served as a working mission until 1834. When it was constructed the mission contained a church, living quarters, workshops, orchards, vineyards, livestock and pastures. I did not...

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  • Downtown

    Like many towns, Sonoma was built around a central plaza, or town square. This area has the courthouse, surrounded by a small, pleasant park. Around it are the Mission, the Barracks, numerous hotels, shops, restaurants, a theater, and other places to go.

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Sonoma Hotels

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Sonoma Restaurants

  • Good Breakfast!

    We enjoyed a pretty good breakfast here. Since we were staying at the Sonoma Creek Inn, this cafe is connected to it, very few steps to get to. My boyfriend ordered the special omelet with habanero chicken sausage. He thought it was okay. I ordered the eggs benedict and I enjoyed it. The potatoes were good with a few peppers and onions cooked in....

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  • Great Breakfasts

    I've been driving past the Creekside Cafe for years but only recently got around to having breakfast there. Now I wish I'd made the effort before. It's a no-frills country cafe where the staff is friendly and the food is excellent. They use local produce and baked goods. They also serve lunch. The cafe is small, so if you have a large group, it...

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  • Comfort Food with A Twist

    This warm and cozy cafe is about 8 miles outside Sonoma, in the tiny town of Glen Ellen. Owned by the popular Plaza restaurant, The Girl and the Fig, The Fig Cafe offers a similar menu: country French cooking and creative variations on familiar dishes. Their bouillabaisse, for instance, includes ling cod and baby mussels in the shell, their chicken...

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Sonoma Nightlife

  • Irish Pub, California Style

    Actually, you don't have to wait until night to go to Murphy's; they serve lunch also. It's a nice place to have a plate full of Sliders (mini-hamburgers or veggie burgers) and a pint. Nice selection of beers and ales, and there's often live music in the evening. Murphy's was totally renovated in early 2011 and now has a longer, more comfortable...

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  • Hottest Night Spot in Sonoma

    Be sure to stop by the best bar in Sonoma while you're in town -- and the oldest establishment on the Plaza. Steiners, founded in 1927, has an excellent selection of liquor and beer and a well-rounded local wine list. Bartenders are super friendly and pour generously, but the bar has remained reasonably priced. There is usually several sports games...

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  • A Strange Local Dance Spot

    In its heart of hearts, Sonoma remains a farm town, which means early to bed, early to rise. Except for late night drinking around the plaza there isn't much to do at night. Little Switzerland, about 2 miles from the plaza sometimes has music on weekend nights. This is a very local place. The selection is eclectic varying from very good zydeco, to...

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Sonoma Transportation

  • how to go there

    Sonoma town is located 80km north of San Francisco, we used an organized tour that took us to three different wineries but also made a stop here for lunch.If you don’t want that you can easily drive here in about 50’. Just cross the Golden Gate Bridge and then highway 37 east and Highway 121 toward Sonoma County, then just follow the signs :) The...

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  • Several Modes of Transportation

    If you're traveling from San Francisco to Sonoma, the fastest way is to rent a car. Take Highway 101 North, across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin County. Then take Highway 37 East and Highway 121 towards Sonoma and Napa. Follow the signs to Sonoma. It's a scenic 1-hour drive. It is possible to make the trip by bus, but it's a lengthy...

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  • Car Hire to explore Sonoma Valley

    If you are going to visit Wine Country from San Francisco the easiest way to get there and do some winery-hopping is by car. Apparently there are some buses and trains you can catch too, but once you get to the main towns, public transport options are scarce.There are numerous car rental options available, and most offer similar rates and types of...

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Sonoma Shopping

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  • Cheese, Please

    If you're craving award-winning local cheese but don't feel like fighting the tourist hordes at the Sonoma Cheese Factory, visit the Vella Cheese Factory, only a couple of blocks away. It's a small, family-run shop where you'll get personal attention. The last time I was there, the girl behind the counter asked me tactfully if I'd meant to choose a...

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  • Cool Socks

    Sox de Vine is a relative newcomer to Sonoma but has already gained a loyal following, and deservedly so. Who knew that socks could be so much fun? You'll find all kinds of bright and whimsical "treats for your feet" here: tiny baby socks that look like shoes, children's socks decorated with pirates, dinosaurs or giraffes; knee socks with...

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  • Lots of Beer and Wine

    This is a great place to buy beer and wine. It is on of the best places in Sonoma County to buy beer, in particular (unless you can get to the far bigger and better Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa). It also has some beers on tap, including ones not easy to find on tap. Beer and wine. It's a little bit more expensive than some places, at least for beer.

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Sonoma Local Customs

  • THE CHOCOLATE COW MOOO'S

    The call of gelato, ice cream, handmade chocolates brings the herd of people to "The Chocolate Cow". Locals and tourists alike, come to Stephen Ponds parlor to cool down or satisfy a chocolate urge. If the weather is hot, get to the end of the line. Banana Splits are the tummy, yummy treat. Located at 452First St. East, in the Sonoma Square.

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  • MAN CAN LIVE BY BREAD ALONE

    Sonoma, a town built around a square. One of the many shops located around this true four corner square has been praised by locals and the in-the-know tourists. Basque Boulangerie Cafe at 460 First Street East for years has been supplying the town with in their own words: "crusty, hand made loaves of peasant bread, inspired by our Basque ancestors...

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  • Don't buy your wines at the Winery

    You will find that locals do not buy their wines at the wineries. In Sonoma the place to buy wine is at the Wine Exchange of Sonoma. Their prices are better than the wineries and they will ship your purchases home. They also have a great wine and beer bar in rear of the store. It is a popular place for the locals to gather in the early evenings.

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Sonoma Warnings and Dangers

  • Fast Racecars, Slow Traffic

    Sonoma Raceway (known locally by its original name, Sears Point Raceway) is at the junction of Highways 37 and 121 on the way to Sonoma. Be advised that if you're traveling to or from Sonoma on a race weekend, especially during NASCAR, there may be delays. Plan ahead by checking the schedule at Infineon Raceway.

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  • Watch That Blood Alcohol Level

    Make sure that you have a designated driver or a rented limousine if you're planning a day of winetasting. All of those little tastes of wine add up in your body, and you can get drunk faster than you think. The California Highway Patrol sometimes sets up driver's license/sobriety checkpoints on the roads surrounding Sonoma, where every car is...

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  • alcohol and driving

    It’s difficult to find any danger here at Sonoma but drinking several wines and then try to drive it’s kind of risky... hm, better say dangerous, not only for you but for the other drivers too. They told me the police makes several alcohol tests on the highways all day but I didn’t see any during our tour.So, just drink responsibly or don’t drive!...

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Sonoma Tourist Traps

  • jakelorenzo's Profile Photo

    by jakelorenzo Written Feb 24, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    John Ash is a great chef and has some wonderful cookbooks, especially on cooking wild game. I hope he no longer has anything to do with the John Ash Restaurant in Santa Rosa. Four of us went there for lunch yesterday. The prices are outrageous. Lunch appetizers $10-18 and lunch entrees $13-24. It wouldn't be so bad, but except for the fried clamari everything was inedible. Not only wasn't it good, but most of it was sweet. A carnitas quesadilla was filled with what tasted like chopped pork in a sweet barbecue sauce. Short ribs pappardele tasted old with a slight burnt character. A smoked pork sandwich with brie literally had a wedge of brie plopped into the middle of the sandwich. It wasn't even melted. Lunch for 4 $160 BEWARE

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Sonoma What to Pack

  • Wine country essentials

    Wear comfortable shoes when visiting wineries. One of the best parts of visiting wineries is walking in the vineyards. Vineyards are dusty, uneven and often difficult to manuever. Open sandals, nice shoes, and high heels are definitely NOT recommended.In the winter, wineries are really, really cold. Dress accordingly.Summers in wine country have...

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  • Sunblock and Layers

    Don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen if you're visiting Sonoma in June, July, or August, . The heat here is dry, and midsummer temperatures can range from 80 to 100 degrees F (26-37 C). On the other hand, Sonoma is only an hour from both San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, so the weather can also turn foggy and cool, even in the...

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  • Sonoma Hotels

    20 Hotels in Sonoma

    2 Reviews

Sonoma Off The Beaten Path

  • Visit Laid Back Glen Ellen

    Less than 15 minutes from town hall in Sonoma lies the charming laid back town of Glen Ellen. Much smaller than Sonoma, Glen Ellen is essentially a village. The town was made famous by the residence of Jack London years ago. The town houses the Jack London State Park which is a must to see for its interesting home of London and the gorgeous grounds...

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  • LAMBERT BRIDGE WINERY, HEALDSBURG

    Healdsburg is about 44 miles north of Sonoma via Hwy 101. It is still Sonoma County and there are many fine wineries to check out in the Healdsburg area. I found a new favorite when my wife, Sue, and I joined my cousins, who are locals in the area, to have a picnic lunch at the Lambert Bridge Winery in the Dry Creek Valley area of Healdsburg.We...

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  • JUST ONE MORE ARMSTRONG ESTATE

    I have fallen in love with the homes on this street. I have separated the tip only because I felt each home/mansion deserved their own space. This one catches my fancy. You really must see them in person to be inspired. From the Somona Square, go east on East Napa Street about 6 blocks to Armstrong Drive, turn right. You are there. Somewhere in...

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Sonoma Sports & Outdoors

  • Skateboarding at Maxwell

    If you have a young skateboard enthusiast traveling with you, he/she might want to don a helmet and kneepads and try out Sonoma's skateboard park.My nephew told me after a visit here that it was a very good park. I consider that critique, coming as it does from someone who lives and breathes skating, high praise indeed.This is part of Maxwell Park,...

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  • Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

    Sonoma is too small to have its own professional team, but Sonoma Valley High School games and matches are open to the public and are a good way to mingle with local families. Sports include football, baseball, volleyball, soccer, track, and rugby. If you're here in the fall, you can watch the Homecoming parade that goes down Broadway and cheer on...

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Sonoma Favorites

  • What To Wear In Sonoma

    If I'm attending an elegant 4-course dinner in Sonoma at nights, I will not be caught dead wearing casual wear (of the "pure" variety, which is tattered/raggedy looking), that's for sure. And even for daytime wine tasting, I would wear a funky/casual chic outfit, rather than "pure" casual/raggedy clothing. Then again, that's me. Unfortunately, most...

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  • Address of 2009 Dream Home

    If you do a birds eye view through "Maps by Microsoft Virtual Earth" the house is located on the corner of Patten & 5th St. East. The house is not shown but you can identify the surroundings with the front view of the house on the Dream Home 2009 site.I hope this helps.

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  • Wine Tasting in Sonoma Valley

    Sonoma Valley is filled with wineries which are mostly open to the public for wine tasting and sales. For some of the wineries you do need to book ahead, but there are plenty that you can just arrive at and taste (and purchase) their latest vintages.Most of the wine tasting I had done prior to my visit to California was in Australia, and over there...

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Map of Sonoma

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