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Your guide to Sonoma
All About Sonoma
About an hour northeast of San Francisco in the heart of Sonoma Valley, the wine country town of Sonoma is one of the oldest settlements in Northern California, the birthplace of the state flag, and home to the only Mission established after Mexico gained independence from Spain. The town’s historic plaza is a microcosm of the region, filled with wine bars, art galleries, specialty housewares stores, and restaurants dishing up the latest in California cuisine. The Tuesday night farmers’ market draws locals to City Hall to stock up on fruits and vegetables from surrounding farms, and the downtown cheese shop has been selling hunks of its famous Monterey Jack since 1931. To take your dairy worship to the next level, hop on the California Cheese Trail, which runs through town and connects to nearly 30 farms and creameries throughout the state.
On the outskirts of town, you’ll find a handful of light-commitment hiking trails perfect for stretching your legs between meals, including the leisurely Sonoma Overlook Trail, former Indigenous hunting grounds with scenic views of the valley and the Mayacamas Mountains in the distance. As the gateway to Sonoma County, the town is also a prime launching pad to whale watching in Bodega Bay, paddling the Russian River, and exploring the more than 400 wineries in the region.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Sonoma?
Sonoma experiences a Mediterranean climate, where temperatures rarely drop below freezing during the rainy winters, and summers are warm with cool coastal breezes. Summer boasts some of the best weather for hiking, biking, swimming, and other outdoor activities. Sonoma vacation rentals are popular from May through October, especially in the fall months of September and October during the grape harvest. Towards the end of winter, mustard flowers blanket the valleys and dormant vineyards in vibrant shades of yellow. Wildflowers in various shades of red, purple, orange, and pink adorn Sonoma’s lush parks in the spring.
What are the top things to do in Sonoma?
Sonoma Botanical Garden
The Sonoma Botanical Garden is a 25-acre gem, home to one of North America’s most extensive collections of temperate-climate, wild plants from Asia as well as plants native to California. The garden offers stunning displays of seasonal flowers and extensive collections of rare and endangered plants. Highlights include camellias, magnolias, roses, maples, rhododendrons, lilies, and more.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
A little over an hour away, Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is one of the most accessible redwood groves in California. Spread out over 800 acres, the reserve boasts a variety of hikes of varying difficulty. The Colonel Armstrong Tree is the oldest tree, thought to be around 1,400 years old, and is located less than a mile from the entrance. Bicycling paths, horseback riding, and picnic areas are all available.
This city’s charming eight-acre central square is the thumping heart of Sonoma, packed with elegant restaurants, contemporary art galleries, and some of the region’s most significant historical landmarks. Follow the winding alleyways past fashion boutiques and wine bars, and pay a visit to Mission Sonoma, the northernmost of California’s 21 missions, built in 1823. Close by, you’ll find the Bear Flag Monument, a bronze sculpture commemorating California’s first armed insurrection against the Mexican government in 1846.