Sonoma is a city in the Sonoma Valley within Sonoma County, in the north part of the Bay Area of California. With its central location in wine country, the city of Sonoma, with little over 10,000 residents, attracts thousands of visitors from around the world for wine tastings.
The city is based around the Sonoma Plaza (locals call it "The Square" or "The Plaza") which is a historic landmark. Restaurants, bars, boutiques and local businesses cluster around the Plaza, with historic houses and residential neighborhoods surrounding it on the southwest and southeast sides, and hills and parkland on its northern end.
Besides being the center of the modern wine-making industry in Sonoma County, the city of Sonoma has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. Spanish colonial settlers established one of their northernmost missions in 1823 when the Mission San Francisco Solano was founded by a Spanish priest, Father Joseph Altimira. The Mission was the first, last, and only California mission established under newly-independent Mexican rule. For a brief period in 1846, from June 14 to July 9, Sonoma was the capital of the short-lived California Republic. There is a monument to the Bear Flag Movement is on the Plaza.
The personality of Sonoma is different than its better-known and more ritzy neighbor Napa. "Sonoma Casual" is the fashion for fundraiser invitations, and wealthy retirees mix with wine industry celebrities and a thriving Latino population. Sonoma is also home to a large Nepalese immigrant community. It's an eccentric town that had a mayor who wore Birkenstock sandals and had long hippie hair; anti-war protesters can occasionally be seen in protests at the Plaza; and you never know when you might see a man riding a bike with a parrot on his shoulder. Sonoma, a small town where everyone knows everyone, is friendly, welcoming, and more affordable than Napa. And yes, particularly in the summer, there are lots of tourists.
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There are no major freeways that go through or even close to Sonoma. The best way to get in is from California State Route 12 which goes directly through the city. Route 12 intersects with Highway 101 in Santa Rosa and I-80 east of Napa near Fairfield. Additionally, State Route 116 connects the city to neighboring Petaluma, to the west, and also connects to Highway 101.
Those traveling from downtown San Francisco or SFO should take Highway 37 to Sears Point in southern Sonoma, then take State Route 121 north, into the valley.
Sonoma County is served by direct flights to Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS IATA) from Seattle/Tacoma; Portland, Oregon; Denver; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Orange County; Las Vegas (seasonal); Phoenix; and Minneapolis (seasonal). From that airport, it's about a 45-minute drive to Sonoma, except during commute hours.
You can also fly into Sacramento (SMF IATA) or Oakland (OAK IATA) Airport as well as San Francisco International Airport. From any of those airports, it's much faster to take a car than public transportation, which is limited to buses.
Unless you plan on staying at Sonoma Plaza and making it the focus of your visit, Sonoma is a car-dependent city, also offering bike tours and locally owned taxi service. If you're staying at a hotel or resort the concierge can organize transportation for you, or you can arrange your own with some of the many options available in town.
Many visitors rent cars, and take advantage of tour services for bringing them to and from wineries without risking drunk driving. Sonoma wine tour services include:
- Sonoma Wine Tours, ☏ .
- Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley, ☏ . A refurbished, gasoline-powered trolley that travels throughout Sonoma starting at $99/person.
Sonoma's mild climate and beautiful scenery make it great for walking or riding a bike. If you want to rent a bike or take a bike tour, there are three places in town:
- Wine Country Cyclery, 262 West Napa St., ☏ .
- Sonoma Valley Cyclery [dead link] 20093 Broadway, ☏ .
- Sonoma Valley Bike Tours 520 Broadway, ☏ .
Sonoma County Transit connects Sonoma to the surrounding towns in the county. Their website has information about how to purchase passes and taking your bicycle on to buses.
If you find yourself stranded at a winery after too many tastes of Pinot Noir, it may be handy to have the number of someone who will pick you up.
Sonoma is home to the Bear Flag revolt, and the home of General Vallejo; his mansion is a historic landmark that may be seen on any day of the week. If you pay $2 you can get a pass to see his mansion, the Barracks (home of the military back in the 1800s), and the Sonoma Mission (the first church in Sonoma). These three sites are on or near downtown Sonoma plaza, one of the only Spanish-style plazas to be found in California. The Sonoma plaza is a large park which is great for families and it houses the impressive City Hall. Surrounding the plaza are various shops and five-star restaurants as well, if you feel like stimulating the economy.
- Sonoma Walking Tour, Sonoma Town Plaza, ☏ . 2 hours. For a unique and interesting look into the tumultuous history of Sonoma, try a walking tour from local historian George Webber, who tells the story of the Bear Flag Revolt from the point of view of General Vallejo (costume and all). He also shows guests some of the interesting agricultural and epicurean offerings of Sonoma. $100 for 4 people.
- 1 Mission San Francisco Solano (Sonoma State Historic Park), 114 East Spain St, ☏ . 10AM - 5PM. Founded in 1823 as the last of the Spanish California missions, in part by Mariano Vallejo to check the Russian's impact in Northern California. Site of the first vineyard in Sonoma County. This is where the Bear Flag Revolt took place in 1846. It was bought by the California Historic Landmarks League in 1903 and restored in 1913. Though it was the last mission, it was the third structure in California to be designated a State Historic Landmark.
- 2 Sebastiani Theatre, 476 1st St E (On the Plaza), ☏ . Varies. Historic movie theatre built by wine mogul Samuele Sebastiani in 1933. Shows first run and retro films and also has great and varied live music and special events. Stop by the original ticket booth for a quirky photo op. Adults $7-9.50.
- 3 Sonoma Stompers, Arnold Field (Just north of the Plaza), ☏ . Sonoma's Pacific Western League baseball is a true American baseball experience. Fun, cheap and entertaining, the Stompers are the best team in the league. Get Grandstand tickets - they're the best and just behind home base. Grilled hot dogs and meatball sandwiches with good Sonoma wine and beer available. $3-20.
- 4 Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, 551 Broadway (Just south of the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. W-Su 11AM-5PM. A modern and contemporary art museum with no permanent collection. They also have a library onsite for those doing research on fine art. $5 general; $8 family; free 18 & under students.
- Charlie’s Acres - tour, ✉ email@example.com. In-person guided tours of the sanctuary for private groups of 2-10 people; about 90 minutes, and walking about a half-mile. Donation of $50/adult and $25/child under 13..
- Have a picnic in the park - with a cocktail in the Plaza. Sonoma is one of the few parks in Northern California that allows visitors to drink alcoholic beverages every day of the week, dawn to dusk. Bring a bottle of wine or beer, plus a sandwich or bread and cheese, and enjoy people watching and the beautiful plaza.
- Ramekins. Take a cooking course and then relax with a wonderful meal on site. Ramekins a local cooking school and event facility just off of the Plaza, that trains future (and hobbyist) wine country chefs.
- Sonoma's Tuesday Night Market (In front of and behind City Hall on the Sonoma Plaza). The most popular place in town on Tuesday from 5:30PM until dusk from May until October. There is live music and lots of farmers selling fresh vegetables and fruits and food trucks and vendors making fresh food for you to enjoy. Locals bring wine and picnics and have parties until the cowbell is rung and everyone heads home.
- The Sonoma Valley Chorale, Performs at Veterans Memorial Building, 126 1st St, ☏ . A 110-voice community chorus offering three annual concerts. Music for its programs includes classical, folk, pop, gospel, Broadway show tunes and more.
- Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market, 241 First St. W. (in the Arnold Field parking lot). FRI, year-round, 9AM-12:30PM.
Special events and festivalsEdit
- Sonoma Film Festival. Brings filmmakers, actors, and fans from around the world to wine country for a weekend. Film showings, parties, and live music.
- Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade & Celebration. Has been voted one of the top ten 4th of July celebrations in the United States by Travel and Leisure magazine. Starting with a parade (get there really early, as in 8AM) on the Plaza, followed by live music and food, and ending with what could be the biggest small-town fireworks show you will ever see.
- Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival. Has been taking place in Sonoma for over 100 years to celebrate the harvest of the grapes. The weekend includes 12km/5km runs, a grape stomping contest, a gala, art and live music.
The following wineries and wine tasting rooms are within the borders of the city of Sonoma. There are many more wineries throughout Sonoma Valley, some only a short car or bike ride from the Plaza.
Most wineries charge for tastings, but will waive fees if you buy wine. You can pick up tasting passes for free or discounted tastings at hotels and the tourism office in the Plaza. If you're a Visa Signature credit card holder you can also get free and discounted tastings throughout the area at some wineries.
- 1 Adobe Road, 481 1st Street West (on the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11AM-6:30PM. Small-lot winery with a tasting room in downtown Sonoma. Adobe Road is owned by race car driver Kevin Buckler (he has won 24 Hours of Le Mans and other races). The Plaza tasting room has a patio in the back for outdoor tastings. $5-10.
- 2 Charles Creek Vineyard Tasting Room & Gallery, 483 First St. W. (on the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 11AM-6PM. Owned by a descendent of John Deere, Bill Brinton, and his wife Gerry, Charles Creek has a quaint and eccentric tasting room full of owls and a giant cow made of corks that makes for a good photo op. $10.
- 3 Roche Winery, 122 W. Spain St. (just off the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11AM – 7PM. Located in a small house about a block off the Plaza (next to the Sonoma Hotel), Roche makes one of the best Chardonnays in Sonoma. Tastings take place indoors and outdoors - grab a glass of wine and people watch from one of the many outdoor tables. The service can be more "car sales" like. $5.
- 4 Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery, 389 Fourth Street East (1/2 mile east of the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 11AM-5PM. The winery owns the oldest vineyard north of San Francisco, planted by Franciscan monks in 1825 to make sacramental wines at the Mission. After the Mission was secularized, General Vallejo made award-winning wines from these grapes. An Italian immigrant called Samuele Sebastiani bought the vineyard in the early 1900s, and his family has produced wine from it ever since. $10-45.
- 5 Sigh, 29 E. Napa (just off of the Plaza in the Sonoma Court Shops), ☏ . M-Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-6PM. Sigh is the only champagne and bubbly tasting room in Sonoma. Woman-owned and cute and quirky inside, tables are decorated with bottle tops and it's the only place in town where they will teach you how to saber your own champagne bottle (on Saturdays). Flights and bottles are available - a great place to buy a bottle and go sit on the Plaza too. $3–65.
- 6 Sojourn Cellars, 141 E Napa St. (just off the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Appointment only. Sojourn is in a cute house just off the Plaza. As this is known as one of the best Pinot Noir producers in Sonoma, you may opt to do a tasting solely focused on Pinot. Friendly people and a great experience if you're interested in a more exclusive - but still friendly and laid back - wine tasting experience. $25.
Yes, Sonoma can be family-friendly too. Wineries can be somewhat boring for children - but many do offer sparkling or still cider to make the little ones feel a part of the grown-up fun.
- Playground on the Plaza. Sonoma parents have been bringing their children to play on the playgrounds in the historic plaza for years. Two playgrounds are onsite, including sandpits. Picnic tables are nearby, too.
- Feeding (or chasing) the ducks on the Plaza is another family tradition in Sonoma. The Plaza has a group of odd-ball inbred ducks that have been living there for years. Some have poof balls on their heads that make them particularly appealing. Bring some stale bread from the nearby Basque Boulangerie Cafe and feed the ducks.
- 7 TrainTown, 20264 Broadway, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 10AM-5PM. A famous amusement park in Sonoma that has been around since 1958. A fun collection of trains mixed with train rides and other amusement rides. $3-6.
West Napa Street is where most of the shopping is centered in the town of Sonoma. Most shops are locally owned, offering gifts, high end clothing and accessories. Wine shops and tasting rooms are plentiful, and bringing home a bottle of wine from a favourite winery, a corkscrew, wine glasses, or a Sonoma focused magnet is a must for any visitor.
- 1 Bear Moon Clothing, 117 E Napa St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 11AM-6PM; Su 11AM-5PM. A boutique offering higher end artsy women's clothing, accessories and shoes, including Tom's.
- 2 McCaulou's Department Stores, 201 W Napa St, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-6PM; Su 11AM-5PM. The only department store in Sonoma. A good place to buy affordable clothing for adults and children, and general housewares. Not really a place for souvenirs.
- 3 [formerly dead link] Sonoma Plaza Farmer's Market, Sonoma Plaza, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 5:30PM-dusk. Tuesday evening farmer's market that takes place on the Plaza. It's the big happening in the city every week, with live music and a real local flavor. Locals bring wine, beer, food and lawn chairs and sit in the plaza, picking up fresh veggies, locally made crafts and food at the market. Free.
- 4 Sign of the Bear, 435 1st St W (on the Plaza), ☏ . 10AM-6PM. A remarkably full to the brim kitchen store with local and internationally produced items. All you need as a home chef or bartender. The windows are worth a visit for window-lickers alone.
- 5 Tiddle E. Winks, 115 E Napa St. (just off the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:30AM-5:30PM. A super quirky and cool retro candy store that also sells vintage style Sonoma-wares such as pillows, coasters, glasses and other items with retro designs. A fun place to just pop in and grab a candy or real sugar drink from your childhood. Not from the US? This place is chock full of American paraphernalia you'll love.
- 6 Sonoma Old School Skate and Surf (SOS), 1001 Broadway (about a 10-minute walk south of the Plaza), ☏ . 10AM-7PM. A classic California skateboard and surf shop (Sonoma is about 1½ hours from the beach) with cool clothes for all ages of hip and cool. Bring your teen - there's a skate ramp out back that is popular after school and in the summer. SOS also has the best Mexican food truck in town that frequents out front - El Coyote.
- 7 Readers Books, 130 E Napa St. (just east of the Plaza), ☏ . 10AM-7PM. The only bookstore in town. Sells new and used books and hosts special events with authors. Kids reading room is in the back. Also sells works by local authors and about Sonoma history.
- 8 Halem & Company, 496 1st St. E. (on the Plaza), ☏ . 10:30AM-6PM. Nicest jewelry store in Sonoma. Need something fixed? They'll take care of it in a jiffy. They have beautifully made works for women and men, and do custom work. The jeweler is a stylish rocker guy with cool taste and they also have a fabulous collection of estate jewelry.
- 9 Large Leather, 481 A First Street West (on the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 11AM-7PM. Cozy boutique selling leather goods made by the woman who owns the shop! $10-500.
- 10 Artefact Design & Salvage, 23562 Highway 121 (inside Cornerstone), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Super cool 4,000-square-foot salvage and antique shop. Amazing things from around the world and a bulldog that runs around the store. Really expensive, so if you are in the market for a super special piece for your home, this is the place to get it. It's also worth it just to walk around and check it out - the owners are very friendly. Very pricey.
- 11 Sonoma County Antiques, 23999 Arnold Dr, ☏ , ✉ Info@SonomaAntiques.com. 10AM-5:30PM. Classy antique shop selling local and European antiques. Pricey.
- 12 Fat Pilgrim, 20820 Broadway, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-6PM; Su 11AM-5PM. A "contemporary general store," Fat Pilgrim has furniture, new items and antiques, and local art. Their selection of big metal animals makes for great photo ops.
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The city of Sonoma is home to some amazing restaurants. You can get high end French-country food, fresh seafood from the coast, and affordable Mexican that is as good as what you'd get down south. Some of these restaurants reside in Sonoma Valley, versus the City of Sonoma, so grab a car or bike and get out for a great bite to eat.
- 1 Sunflower Caffé, 421 First St. W. (on the Plaza), ☏ . 7AM-4PM. Serving breakfast, lunch, and happy hour, Sunflower is popular with locals. It's been featured on "Diners, Drive-In's and Dives," but it doesn't fit into any of those categories. Casual dining inside, but the highlight is the back patio. Delicious brunch, salads and sandwiches. Happy hour is served from 3-4PM with locals wines and beers. Free wifi. $11.
- 2 Basque Boulangerie Cafe, 460 First St (on the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 6AM-6PM. Sonoma's favorite local bakery, the Boulangerie is a popular place for breakfast and lunch. Affordable fresh sandwiches, tasty coffee, and freshly baked bread and pastries. Try a cheesy breadstick. Grab a loaf of bread to nibble on with local cheese at the park. They back the bread in house - stop by around 8PM for a hearty smell out back. $4-9.
- 3 Tortilleria Jalisco, 897 W Napa St (about a 20-minute walk west of the Plaza), ☏ . 10AM-?. Super cheap, no thrills Mexican food you expect when visiting California. For lunch and late night there is a taco stand set up outside that serves into the evening. Fast, cheap and filling. $5-10.
- 4 Mary's Pizza Shack, 8 W. Spain St. (on the north side of Sonoma Plaza), ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-10PM; F Sa 11AM-11PM. Mary's is locally owned and has locations throughout wine country. They serve traditional east coast style pasta in a family-friendly environment. They also have happy hour starting at 3PM. $15/person without alcohol.
- 5 The Red Grape, 529 1st St W (just south of the Plaza), ☏ . 11:30AM-9PM. Tasty Connecticut-style pizza and an ever-changing seasonal menu. A family friendly restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, the Grape is known for being one of the best places to work in town - and it shows in the friendly service. $20.
- 6 Taste of the Himalayas, 464 1st St E (down the Paseo off the Plaza), ☏ . 11AM-10PM. Locally owned Himalayan restaurant that is the social hub for the Nepalese community. Taste is a friendly spot with simple indoor and outdoor seating. You can get traditional HImalayan dishes, as well as Indian classics like Chicken Tikka. Each meal comes with a bowl of soup, and lunchtime offers specials. Grab a Nepali beer, too! Takeout available. $20.
- 7 Bangkok 9, 201 W. Napa St, Ste 9 (about a 10-minute walk west of the Plaza), ☏ . 11AM-9PM. Only Thai restaurant in the City of Sonoma. Contemporary decor with all the classic Thai dishes. Friendly service and cool music to boot. $20.
- 8 Plaza Bistro, 420 1st St E. (on the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11AM-9PM. Casual Italian-Mediterranean dining with a nice wine list. Nothing too fancy, but, go on Tuesdays when Claudia is working and get great service. The bar has happy hour specials each day of the week and on Friday's the backroom has some of the best live jazz in the Bay Area (seriously). $25.
- 9 [dead link] La Casa, 121 E Spain St. (just east of the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 11:30AM-10PM. An American-style Mexican restaurant, the service is great and the prices are too. Happy Hour is M-F and you can get margaritas and tacos for cheap. Chips and salsa are housemade and so popular the owner sells them throughout the state at grocery stores. Nice little patio out back that is great for lunch. $10-15.
- 10 Schellville Grill, 22900 Broadway, ☏ . 8AM-2PM. Popular local diner serving breakfast and barbecue lunch. It's been featured on Diners, Dives and Drive-In's. Casual, laid back vibe and a nice patio. $10-18.
- 11 Cafe La Haye, 140 E Napa St (Just off Sonoma Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 5:30-9PM. Locally sourced produce, beef, chicken and seafood is prepared simply at this intimate restaurant. $30 per person without alcohol.
- 12 El Dorado Kitchen (EDK), 405 1st St W. (west side of Sonoma Plaza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Su-Th 8AM-9:30PM; F Sa 8AM-10PM. Contemporary indoor and outdoor dining on Sonoma Plaza. Sharing a space with the El Dorado Hotel, EDK offers a formal dining area with shared & individual tables, a lounge, and a smaller casual cafe. Contemporary wine country food with locally sourced and seasonal items. They also make their own charcuterie. Can be a bit pretentious, and quite the place to see and be seen for the San Francisco set who visits for the weekends. Dinner: $30 without alcohol.
- 13 the girl & the fig (the fig), 110 West Spain St (Located on the Sonoma Plaza), ☏ . Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM; F Sa 11:30AM-11PM. Owned by celebrity chef Sondra Bernstein, the girl & the fig opened in 1997 and helped launched wine country cuisine. French country food in a casual but classy setting, they offer indoor and outdoor dining, and a French style zinc bar specializing in classic French cocktails with a twist and Rhone varietal wines. Reservations necessary. $7-25.
- 14 Harvest Moon, 487 First Street West (west side of Sonoma Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su M W Th 5:30-9PM, F Sa 5:30-9:30PM. An intimate French-inspired restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining. They post their menu every day on their website and use fresh seasonal ingredients. A tiny open kitchen, with one chef and a cook, they also have their own pastry chef on site. A delightful, low key and romantic place. $25 per person without alcohol.
- 15 LaSalette Restaurant, 452 First Street East, Suite H (just off Sonoma Plaza), ☏ , ✉ Info@LaSalette-Restaurant.com. M-Th 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5-8PM; F 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5-9PM; weekends 11:30AM-9PM. Portuguese restaurant owned by Azorean-born chef Manuel Azevedo. Authentic gourmet food with a classy decor that feels more like coastal Portugal than Sonoma. Popular in the evening, make a reservation. They serve lunch and dinner (and lots of port!). $30 and under per person, without wine.
- 16 Mamma Tanino's, 500 W. Napa St. Suite 512 (15-minute walk west of the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ Kim@MammaTaninos.com. 5-9PM. The best Italian food in town. The owner/chef is from Italy and he cooks each meal himself. Fast paced place with a real Italian feel, enjoy classics and hearty dishes with a small but nice Italian wine list. Amazing food. $20-30.
- 17 Depot Hotel, 241 1st St W. (just about two blocks north of the Plaza), ☏ . 11AM-9PM. Housed in a former hotel dating back to the late 1800s, the Depot Hotel serves quality Italian food that has been family owned for decades. Don't let the rather uneventful interior fool you - make a reservation and sit out back where the hotel's historic pool provides a lovely atmosphere amongst the garden. Call ahead, it's a popular wedding spot. $25-35.
Groceries, gourmet and take-outEdit
Wine country is plentiful with fresh grown food, artisan cheeses, and other tasty morsels year around. This section is for those who want to "cook on the road," whether camping, renting a house, or perhaps just in the mood for a picnic.
- 18 Vella Cheese Company, 315 2nd St E, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 9:30AM-6PM. Vella Cheese has been making their products since 1931. The building is a former brewery, built in 1904. A historic building, the site has seen it all, from earthquakes to Prohibition. Tom Vella founded it, and his son, Ig Vella took over - there is even a bridge named after him in town. Fabulous cheese in small and large formats for you to enjoy.
- 19 [dead link] Sonoma Market, 500 W Napa St (about a 15-minute walk from the Plaza), ☏ . 5:30AM-11PM. The favorite of locals, Sonoma Market also has a location in Glen Ellen. All you can want in a locally owned grocery store and more. The best fresh seafood and steaks in town, wine often cheaper than you'll get at the winery itself, and a great hot and salad bar.
- 20 Sonoma's Best, 1190 East Napa St (a 30 minute walk from the Plaza), ☏ . 8AM-5PM. Wine country deli with fresh sandwiches, local cheeses and wine. You can take to go or eat there on their patio with a fire pit. The only place in town that serves Blue Bottle Coffee. Lady Gaga went here every morning for her coffee when she was in town in 2012. $5-20.
People come to Sonoma usually for one thing: to drink. There are few very bars in Sonoma the town, as most establishments are tasting rooms or restaurants with bars. The few local bars in town bring out primarily local color, but live music and special events can frequently be found by checking local free papers and websites.
- 1 Murphy's Irish Pub & Restaurant, 464 1st St E (on the east side of Sonoma Plaza), ☏ . The Irish pub of Sonoma. Full menu, live music, beers, and a fun, family-friendly environment. They also have Trivia night on Wednesdays where the locals compete for first, second, and last place. Prizes usually include wine, so bone up on your current events!
- 2 Steiners Tavern, 465 1st St W (on the west side of Sonoma Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 6AM-2AM. Founded in 1927, described by a local as "the only real bar in Sonoma". All the classics of a bar: live music, jukebox, pool, TV's, and heavy pours. Lots of locals and it can get pretty rowdy sometimes. It opens at 6AM if that tells you anything.
- 3 HopMonk Tavern, 691 Broadway (about a 10-minute walk south of the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 11:30AM-late. A contemporary beer garden that is part of a local chain (two other locations exist) that was started by Gordon Biersch. Food is just mediocre but the beer is adequate and features HopMonk's own beer (if you like Biersch's beers...) and other regional and international brews. Service is often slow and not always the most attentive but a lot of younger "hip" locals hang out here and they have live music most nights of the week. $10-20.
- 4 Town Square, 482 1st St E. (on the Plaza), ☏ . 6:30AM-2AM. The only bar in Sonoma open for business on Christmas. Yup, the Town Square is that kind of place. A tiny dive bar located opposite the other dive bar (Steiner's) - you're either a fan of this bar or the other. Cheap booze, heavy pours, local flavor and a laid back tiny bar vibe. It's 5 o'clock somewhere.
- 5 Enoteca, 127 E. Napa St. (just off the Plaza), ☏ . A wine bar with a contemporary yet laid back feel with a big international wine list. Specials are frequent and you can also buy wine here to go. They serve Italian food from their parent restaurant, Della Santina's. $15-30.
- 6 Prohibition Spirits, 21877 Eighth St E, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Appointment only. The only spirits producer in Sonoma Valley. Prohibition went on the map with their HelloCello limoncello. Now they produce bourbon, rye, whiskey, rum and other treats. Sometimes they are open on the weekends on a whim, but call ahead for a tour and tasting. They make a bourbon called "Hooker's House," while the sexy label says one thing, it's actually named after General Hooker (no, the term "hooker" did not come from his name!). Varies.
Sonoma is home to many fine hotels and bed and breakfasts. There are virtually no "budget" hotels in Sonoma proper, but, you can find affordable options via private home rentals or couchsurfing websites. Another option is to stay in Santa Rosa, which is about a 30-40 minute drive north of Sonoma.
- 1 Best Western Sonoma Valley Inn, 550 2nd St West, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A locally owned and operated Best Western. A few blocks from Sonoma Plaza, this hotel is pet friendly and has a pool, jacuzzi rooms and free breakfast. Free wifi and laundry facilities you can use. Expensive for a Best Western - but not your typical, either. $128-250.
- 2 El Dorado Hotel, 405 First St. W. (on the Plaza), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Centrally located, the El Dorado Hotel is the most high end overnight property on the Plaza. Very modern rooms (27 in total) with free wifi, coffee/tea, and you even get your own reusable water bottle for your stay. A super hip solar-heated pool overlooks the restaurant and will make you feel like a star while those dining watch you sunbath. $145-300.
- 3 El Pueblo Inn, 896 West Napa St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A comfortable inn with a Santa Fe feel. Further from the Plaza, a cab, car or bike would be ideal. The more affordable mid-range option compared to its neighbouring Best Western. They offer a pool and hot tub, 24-hr front desk services, and a complimentary continental breakfast. Know someone who lives in Sonoma? Have them make the reservation for you - they offer a locals discount! $150-250.
- 4 The Sonoma Hotel, 110 West Spain St (Northwest corner of Sonoma Plaza), toll-free: , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A historic hotel with 16 rooms and suites located on the Plaza. A classic B&B feel with antiques and French country furniture. Guests receive complimentary wine in the evening, and dinner can be enjoyed downstairs at the girl and the fig. Can get noisy at night as the bars close. $99-248.
- 5 The Swiss Hotel, 18 West Spain St (On northside of Sonoma Plaza), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Registered on the National Register of Historic Places, Swiss Hotel is in a great location on the Plaza. A small group of guest rooms overlook the Plaza above an Italian restaurant and bar. Located in the heart of the town and near several bars, the inn can attract street noise in the late evenings, including rowdy tourists heading back to their hotels after a long day (and night) of wine country drinking. Winter: $110-180; Summer: $150-240.
- 6 Ledson Hotel, 480 1st St East (east side of the Sonoma Plaza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Classy inn on the Plaza with six rooms. Whirlpool tubs in each room and private balconies. Ledson is owned by a wine country family - you can taste the families wines in the tasting room and restaurant on the ground floor. Free internet, and discounts for wine club members on rooms. $350-395.
- 7 The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa, 1325 Broadway at Leveroni & Napa Roads, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. A contemporary resort and spa just south of Sonoma Plaza, part of the Marriott chain. Beautiful and super modern, with a big pool spotted with cabanas, a great place to nurse a hangover after wine tasting, or to cater to your family when the kids just want to have fun. Pets are allowed with a charge, and internet is additional. They have two restaurants. $495-509.
- 8 MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa, 29 E. MacArthur St., ☏ . Western themed, but don't let that scare you - the decor is modern and classy with all the touches of a (fancy) home. Lovely gardens, many types of rooms, and free internet. Breakfast and wine reception included. MacArthur also has free DVDs you can borrow and a fitness center. Onsite restaurant is Saddles, a high end steakhouse with a tacky cowboy theme. $275.
- 9 Sonoma's Best Guest Cottages, 1190 East Napa St, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Four quaint cottages owned by the folks who own Sonoma's Best, a local general store. 1.2 miles from the Sonoma Plaza, this is a great launching point to check out Sonoma Valley and visit Napa. Romantic with private patios. Free internet. $159-300.
- 1 Yoga Community, 577 5th Street West (in the West Plaza Shopping Center), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 9AM-6PM, Sa Su 9AM-1PM. Yoga studio where you can pay by the class or get a 30 day pass for $30 if it's your first time there. Great variety of classes and teachers, they also have a shop if you are in need of gear or clothing. $10+.
- Glen Ellen - The historic home and state park where Jack London lived and a tiny "downtown" with exclusive restaurants. Just north of Sonoma.
- Napa - Head east to the town of Napa to start your wine country and Michelin rated restaurant journey in the most famous wine region in the world.
- Petaluma - West of Sonoma with a historic downtown on a river and a laid back, artsy vibe.
- Santa Rosa - North of Sonoma, the county seat and the home to Snoopy and Luther Burbank
|Routes through Sonoma|
|Santa Rosa ← Glen Ellen ←||W E||→ Napa → Fairfield|
|Jenner ← Petaluma ←||W E||→ END|
|END ← Jct W E ←||S N||→ Napa → Jct W E|