SO you’ve flown into San Francisco, picked up your California car rental and not sure where to go? We say “not far at all” if you underline the words “Sonoma County” on your itinerary. We’ve tapped into the Sonoma County Tourism latest news to give you the lowdown on what makes it special, so read on.
Located in Northern California just a 50km drive north of San Francisco, Sonoma County offers a blend of incredible scenery, urban sophistication, agriculture, small-town charm, outdoor adventure, and, of course, the food and wine that make this region famous. Sonoma County boasts more than 425 wineries, 100-plus organic farms, and 80km of stunning Pacific Ocean coastline.
Whether your goal is to savor food and wine pairings at renowned wineries, explore the more than 50 miles of spectacular Pacific coastline, picnic under towering redwood trees, shop unique local galleries and boutiques, or discover other Sonoma County delights, here are a few things you might want to know before visiting Sonoma Wine Country.
What to pack
Sonoma County’s moderate temperatures rarely dip below freezing, even in winter. The county typically gets about 25 to 30 inches of annual rainfall, mainly from November through April.
However, microclimates are part of what make Sonoma County such a great place to grow wine grapes, and some areas of the county can be much cooler, warmer, or windier than others. When the inland areas heat up in the summer, the coastal regions can remain cool. The weather can be changeable, and a chilly, foggy summer morning anywhere in the county can heat up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (or more) by 2pm.
It’s best to wear layers. Jeans, khakis or shorts, T-shirts, comfortable walking shoes, a sweater, and a medium-weight jacket are good for daytime sightseeing. Wine Country casual — like business casual, but with the laid-back, country feeling of a vineyard — is typical for evenings out.
Getting to Sonoma County
For those flying into other airports, Sonoma County is about 75 miles north of either San Francisco International (SFO) or Oakland International (OAK) airports, or about 120 miles west of Sacramento International (SMF). When traveling by car from San Francisco (and points south of there), cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head north on Highway 101. From Sacramento, go west on US-80, then west on Highway 12/121. From Seattle/Portland, go south on Highway 101 or US Interstate 5.
Visit a winery or ten
Home to more than 425 award-winning wineries, Sonoma County barrels a varietal for nearly every palate. Taste by region or varietal, tour vineyards, barrel rooms, and wine caves. Savor delicious food-and-wine pairings, or learn how to blend wine. “Sparkling” isn’t just about wine in Sonoma County. The area’s artisan breweries, cider houses and distilleries offer tours as well. Be as active or as laid back as you wish, Sonoma County has a winery experience that’s right for you.
Stroll through ancient redwoods; or soar through the forest on a zip line. Hike remote trails through more than 60 state and regional nature parks. Paddle a canoe through various rivers, lakes, and even an ocean. Cycle backroads easy enough for a beginner or challenging enough for the pro cyclists who compete in Amgen Tour of California or the Gran Fondo. Golfers can tee off at one of 20-plus stunning courses. Go horseback riding, take a ride in a hot-air balloon, observe wildlife, or simply sit back and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Explore the coast
The stunning drive along Highway 1 unveils the rugged cliffs, pristine sand beaches, stunning vistas, whale watching, and small towns nestled along more than 50 miles of coastline. The area is dramatic, yet approachable. Trails and beaches beg travelers to stop and explore on foot. State and regional parks dot the coastline, tempting with hiking, beaches, fishing, camping, water sports, and horseback riding. Or simply relax at a beach for the day, enjoy a romantic picnic, or go all-out on a camping trip. While the coast is beautiful to explore at any time, be aware that the weather can turn windy or foggy any time of year, so always bring along a windbreaker and cap.
For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call +1-707-522-5800.