When you think of Sonoma County, images come to mind of vineyards and vine-covered hillsides, elegant tasting rooms and fabulous dinners at intimate restaurants. Beyond the famous food, wine and vineyards, Sonoma offers plenty more to discover.
Beyond the rolling hills of vineyards, go west and discover forests of majestic redwoods along the winding Russian River, and the rugged Pacific coast with its salty sea air and small oceanfront fish restaurants with mussels, Dungeness crabs and oysters. With your fresh seafood you can sample local craft brews and yes, of course, artisan wines as well.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is a California state park established to preserve 805 acres of coast redwoods. The Reserve is located in Sonoma County, just north of Guerneville, in a temperate rainforest.
Coast State Park, 4 miles north of Jenner, is laced with sandy beaches, hidden coves, rocky bluffs and miles of trails.
Bodega Head is a small rocky peninsula (in Sonoma Coast State Park) that juts out into the Pacific Ocean with beach access and breath-taking views of the rugged coastline from the cliff tops. The Bodega Head Trail is an easy-to-moderate 1.7mile loop offering great animal and bird watching, from gray whales in the winter and early spring to sea lions cavorting in the waves below the cliffs.
Zipline Over the Tree Tops
After your morning walk in the Redwoods, you can spend the afternoon ziplining with Sonoma Canopy Tours, on the Bohemian Highway outside Occidental, which is tucked into the Redwood-covered hills between Sebastopol and the coast.
Immerse yourself in the arts
Well known artists from Broadway performances such as “Hamilton, Wicked, Les Miserables, Mamma Mia” and more, travel to Sonoma to sing and dance for the Transcendence Theater Company. In the summer they perform in the most beautiful stage in Wine Country amid rolling hills of vineyards in Jack London’s Valley of the Moon. The outdoor, under-the -stars, summer performances are evenings of magical energy from top- notch Broadway talent. Keep this in mind for next June to September. Until then, celebrate the holidays with Broadway performers at Transcendence’s Holiday Spectacular, in December at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa and at Lincoln Theater, Napa Valley. BroadwayHolidayShow.com
Get a taste of farm life
Sonoma County farmers will open their gates and barn doors to offer a behind-the-scenes peek at life on the farm this fall and winter from November 14 through January 1. It’s the perfect outing for family and friends to greet farm animals, shop at farm stands, find the perfect Christmas tree and chop it down, and make gifts at do-it-yourself workshops. Follow an interactive online map of participating farms and destinations with all the details. The free map is available at FarmTrails.org. Admission is free, but guests must RSVP online.
Nestled at the gateway to Wine Country, not far from the Sonoma Raceway on Arnold Drive, Cornerstone Gardens and Beer Garden is a place to sip, eat, shop, play and explore. It is home to the Sunset magazine outdoor kitchen and test gardens, as well as an ever-changing series of designer gardens, tasting rooms, and unique French antique-style shops and galleries. Learn about food production, bee habitat, cut flowers and composting.
Relax in the Beer Garden
The folks who own the popular eatery Palooza Brewery & Gastropub in Kenwood, in northern Sonoma Valley, just opened the Palooza Beer Garden & Eatery at Cornerstone. The family and dog friendly eatery features wood fired pizza, oysters, handcrafted food, local spirits and house brewed beer.
Pay homage to Jack London
Jack London, the widely popular novelist at the turn of the last century, was one of the first writers to gain worldwide celebrity. His most popular novels include The Sea Wolf, Call of the Wild and White Fang.
Sonoma Valley is home to his Beauty Ranch and the ruins of his dream home. Today it’s surrounded by 1,400 acres of Jack London State Historic Park. You can hike, horseback ride, visit the museum, or picnic in the park and then indulge in traditional French pastries at Les Pascals Patisserie et Boulangerie in the picturesque town of Glen Ellen.
This story first appeared in the nationally award-winning weekly newspaper of Tiburon, Belvedere and Strawberry in the San Francisco Bay Area.