Red, white, rosé, or sparkling? No visit to San Francisco is complete without a visit to Wine Country an hour or so north of the city. Sonoma County has highly walkable town centers, cultural sites, and shopping galore. Here are the best places to visit in the region.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Rennett Stowe
3115 Porter Creek Rd, Santa Rosa
Experience the wild and support a good cause at Safari West. Tucked away in the rolling hills of Sonoma County, this large private wildlife preserve is the closest you’ll get to Africa without boarding an airplane. Located in Santa Rosa, just a little over an hour north of San Francisco, you can be part of the sights and sounds of the exciting wildlife. Since its grand opening in 1993, the founders Peter and Nancy Lang had made it their mission to promote wildlife conservation and environmental education. Through their extensive efforts, Safari West has become one of the premier wildlife destinations in the United States. Within the 400-acre park, there is something for everyone. For adventure seekers, you can hop on a safari vehicle and get close to giraffes, zebras, rhinos, etc. There’s even beer and wine tasting on-site for those who want to sit back and enjoy the view. If you also plan on staying in Sonoma County overnight, consider glamping on the zoo grounds. There are luxurious tents available — perfect for your team of explorers. safariwest.com
Jack London State Historic Park
2400 London Ranch Rd, Glen Ellen
Once home to American novelist and San Francisco native Jack London, this California historic state park and landmark is a beautiful site worth checking off your Sonoma bucket list. Jack London was a prominent writer in the early 20th century, known as a pioneer of commercial fiction and the inventor of the science fiction genre. His old stomping grounds were a special place for him to work on his novels and seek inspiration. At this historical park, you can walk around the stone ruins of the Wolf House, a 26-room mansion that burned down right before the Londons moved in, and appreciate the stone architecture and serenity of the magnificent lands. Whether you aspire to be a novelist like Jack London or want to hike the extensive trails, you can find that all here. jacklondonpark.com
Matheson St & Healdsburg Ave
Healdsburg, CA 95448
After a day of wine tasting at one of the many world-class wineries in wine country, spend the next day hitting the streets of Sonoma County and strolling through Healdsburg Plaza. In this cozy, small-town shopping square, you can grab your morning coffee at Black Oak Coffee Roasters and then spend a few hours checking out the numerous designer boutiques, like Punch or Yasuko, in the plaza. Most of the boutiques in the area are filled with pieces made by local artists/fashion designers, so you’ll be sure to find a unique accessory for your next outfit. After all that, you can grab lunch and watch the birds in the trees around Healdsburg Plaza. sonomacounty.com
453 1st St E, Sonoma
Did you know the largest plaza in California is located in Sonoma? Established in 1835, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, the founder of Sonoma, created a central hub for tourists looking for a place to stay, eat, and do in the county. Now considered a historical landmark, Sonoma Plaza still serves as an active focal point of the area. If you plan on visiting the plaza, check out the wine tasting rooms, Californian cuisine eateries, and luxurious accommodations. It’s everything you want to do and see wrapped up in one plaza. sonomaplaza.com
114 E Spain St, Sonoma
With 21 missions spread along California’s Historic Mission Trail, Solano Mission is the last mission to be found in 1823. Now part of Sonoma State Historic Park, the mission is the biggest attraction in town, right after the endless vineyards and wineries. Plan a half-day trip and explore the museum within the site, see Spanish adobe architecture up close, and visit the shops on the central square. missionscalifornia.com
Looking for more things to do in the Bay Area?
Visit our San Francisco, North Bay, East Bay and South Bay pages!