I know, I know. Your first comment is – not wine drinkers???
Not sure what happened but somehow, my husband and I just never got the wine tasting urge. We have a few friends that keep telling us we are drinking the wrong wines.
But I’m all good with my craft cocktails and beer 🤪.
That didn’t stop us from having an AMAZING time for two days in Sonoma County as NON WINE DRINKERS!!
Here are a few of my tips and suggestions to have a great time in this beautiful part of California:
Table of Contents
- Where to Fly Into
- How Long to Stay
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- What to Do
- Best Photography Spots in Sonoma County
- Other Things to Do Within Two Hours of Sonoma County
Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
Be sure to pin the image below to save for later!
Where to Fly Into
We are pretty lucky in that our hometown of San Diego is sooo centrally located to be able to drive to so many amazing parts of the western US (have you checked out my Grand Teton or Four Other National Parks posts??).
However if you are not within driving distance of places in the West – Sacramento International Airport (SMF) is seriously one of the easiest airports in the entire state of California to fly in and out of! And it is less than two hours from Sonoma County and unbelievably easier than flying into any of the San Francisco airports!!
But if you want that hassle – then by all means, fly into any of the busy San Francisco airports (SFO, OAK, or SJC)
How Long to Stay
We left our house in San Diego, drove the 8 hours to Forestville, CA on a Sunday morning and spent two full days in the area. We then went to Half Moon Bay for one night with a stop to check out Point Reyes Lighthouse.
If you are wine tasting, clearly you might want one extra day to hit all the big wineries and still have plenty of time to relax.
Where to Stay
Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, CA
We were lucky enough to enjoy a three night stay at this incredible property when we went in April (2021). It was intended to be my “let’s celebrate the end of tax season and my 50th birthday that got canceled in 2020” getaway. However, tax day was moved to May 17th this year… but I still celebrated anyway 😂.
I honestly do not even know where to begin with this hotel. The people were some of the friendliest and knowledgeable hospitality staff I have ever been treated to.
We were handed a glass of wine at check in – I was up front with the staff and said welp I am not exactly a wine drinker and yet I decided to not be rude and have a sip. I actually liked it!
Of course, I did not catch the winery for ya though (my bad).
I do know that they told us the area is renowned for it’s Pinot Noir (does that help??).
We had the goeyest brownies waiting for us in our room and because restaurants were still a little wonky with the Covid pandemic in the area- the concierge sent her bellman to pick up Italian food for us from Canneti Roadhouse Italiana. I mean talk about service!!
Oh – and the sweets didn’t stop on check in! Every night we had seriously THE BEST COOKIES EVER left for us on our bedstands. And this was AFTER we had s’mores at the firepits!!
I can’t forget to tell you about the bath salts and soaps that were complimentary in the hotel lobby either…
Farmhouse Inn is very centrally located – especially for our itinerary of just exploring all the cute towns in the county (many by foot I might add!).
Seriously – this place will feel like a destination in and of itself! When we go back – we 100% plan on experiencing their award winning spa. It had literally just reopened shortly before our visit and since we only had two days in the area, we decided to spend our days exploring…
This is probably going to be a TMI – but we did a bathroom stop at this downtown Healdsburg hotel and it truly looked luxurious! If we go back to Sonoma, I would love to stay at this centrally located stylish hotel!
Another luxurious hotel – in fact I am enamored with all Montage Hotels so this brand will always be top of my list! This one is a bit out of town and no bathroom break here so I cannot say first hand what it looks like but you can never go wrong with a Montage ;).
Santa Rosa, CA
Santa Rosa is the biggest city in Sonoma County and where you will find a wide assortment of hotels ranging from budget to luxury. You can easily find any place to stay within your budget – especially in the Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt families.
Where to Eat
Mentioned above when our concierge brought us our dinner on our first night!
We ate our second meal of our stay here and can easily say it was delicious! Of course – it’s a Michelin starred restaurant so that kind of speaks for itself…
After walking from Forestville to Sebastopol, we were starving! Our hotel concierge told us to head to The Barlow in town and once I saw the photo on the menu of the french fries and brussel sprouts here – I was sold!
And I gotta mention how refreshing the beer and cocktails were after our long 5.5 mile walk to get here!
Anywhere in The Barlow in Sebastopol
We drove past this restaurant and it looks really cute and gets great reviews! Had we stayed another night – we easily would have eaten here!!
Willi’s Seafood and Oyster Bar in Healdsburg
FYI- I am NOT a seafood lover – however the chicken skewers here were awesome!!
Their cocktail menu is pretty dang incredible also FYI!
JUST YUM!!! Do not pass this up!!
What to Do
Well as is mentioned in the title of this blog post – you can certainly do more than just wine tasting in Sonoma County!
Here are the ways we spent our two days in the county as well as links to other activities to entertain you:
Walk and/or Hike
We started by getting dropped off at the trailhead in Forestville (FYI there is NOT much to this teeny tiny town!) by our concierge and then walked the 5.5 miles to Sebastopol.
This is an insanely scenic flat walk that will take you through so many cute little towns – like Graton and Molino. Graton has a cute little bakery called Nightingale Breads that we didn’t stop at but it sure looked cute!!
You walk past wine fields, actual wineries, farmhouses, and farmers markets… honestly was an amazing day! You could also easily rent bikes and do this path as well!
Starts in Sepastopol and goes all the way to Santa Rosa and goes for about 12 miles. Not sure how enjoyable this walk is though (we didn’t do any of it!)
This was how we spent our second day in Sonoma County. It is an incredibly peaceful 3 mile hike with a little under 800 feet elevation gain. The views were worth the hike as well as the calm forested trail.
We enjoyed a sunset stroll in this park on our way back to Farmhouse Inn. Another peaceful place to get some exercise for a couple of miles (and to work off that ice cream we had earlier!).
Sadly this reserve was closed when we visited in April 2021 due to the fires in years past. I was really hoping to explore this park however still enjoyed the walks we were able to take on our trip!
Here are just a few of the cute towns in the area to explore:
- Bodega Bay
Duh… but as I said before – we didn’t do this… however here is the link to a list of the best wineries in the area!
- Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
- The Russian River
- The Barlow in Sebastopol
- Duncans Landing, Bodega Bay
- Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Santa Rosa
- St Teresa of Avila Church aka “The Birds Church” in Bodega
- Old Saint Mary’s Church of Nicasio Valley
Old Saint Mary’s Church of Nicasio Valley on Highway One
Views from Forestville to Point Reyes on Highway One
Other Things to Do Within Two Hours of Sonoma County
Point Reyes National Seashore and Lighthouse (60 miles south)
Half Moon Bay (92 miles south)
Napa Valley (38 miles east)
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (59 miles)
San Francisco (66 miles south)
I hope this post is helpful to you in your planning to this stunning part of California – as well as the US. Let me know in the comments if you have anything to add or just want to share your thoughts!!