Featuring rolling hills blanketed by vineyards, world-class wineries, historic landmarks, and a charming downtown square, Sonoma, California is a veritable paradise for tourists. Here are our top five things to do when visiting Sonoma, the heart of wine country.
1. Revel in the Charm of Sonoma Plaza
At the heart of Sonoma lies the Sonoma Plaza. This historic downtown hub, sprawling over eight acres and surrounded by quaint boutiques, art galleries, and delectable eateries, draws visitors in with its rustic charm and laid-back atmosphere. Stroll along its pathways, relax on the benches under towering trees and take in the beauty of the park-like setting—a perfect blend of history, nature, and culture. From wine tasting rooms to cheese shops, you can easily while away hours exploring what Sonoma Plaza has to offer. The Plaza also hosts various seasonal events throughout the year including farmers markets, summer concerts, and wine festivals.
2. Embark on a Journey through Wine History at Buena Vista Winery
Next on the list is the revered Buena Vista Winery. Known as California’s oldest commercial winery, Buena Vista offers much more than just exceptional wines. The winery’s stone façade and regal interiors, steeped in history, transport you to the era of its inception in 1857. Take a tour through its historical champagne cellars, indulge in a tasting of their exquisite wines, or simply wander around the captivating grounds. And don’t miss the engaging wine tool museum displaying antique winemaking tools. A visit to Buena Vista Winery promises a blend of history, beauty, and world-class winemaking.
3. Travel Back to Childhood at Sonoma TrainTown Railroad
No visit to Sonoma would be complete without a trip to the delightful Sonoma TrainTown Railroad. This beloved attraction, located just a mile south of Sonoma Plaza, offers an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults. Board the meticulously detailed miniature train for a scenic 20-minute ride through woods, over bridges, and past miniature towns. Hop off at Lakeview- a miniature town replete with petting zoo. Whether you are an adult seeking a nostalgic trip back to childhood or a child experiencing the joy of a train ride for the first time, Sonoma TrainTown Railroad is a must-visit.
4. Step into History at Sonoma State Historic Park
Sonoma State Historic Park offers a deep dive into California’s past. This cluster of historic sites in downtown Sonoma includes the mission San Francisco Solano, the Sonoma Barracks, and the Toscano Hotel, among others. The mission, built in 1823, was the last and northernmost of the 21 Franciscan missions in California. It offers a deep dive into California’s past. This cluster of historic sites in downtown Sonoma includes the mission San Francisco Solano, the Sonoma Barracks, and the Toscano Hotel, among others. The mission, built in 1823, was the last and northernmost of the 21 Franciscan missions in California. Visit the barracks to learn about the Mexican military post during the Bear Flag Revolt. Step inside the Toscano Hotel and Kitchen to see how hotel guests lived in the 19th century. The park’s museum offers enlightening displays about Sonoma’s history and the region’s early inhabitants. A visit to the Sonoma State Historic Park is a journey back in time and a great way to delve into Sonoma’s rich history.
5. Revisit Sonoma’s Past at the Sonoma State Historic Park
With its bounty of historical landmarks, a visit to the Sonoma State Historic Park is worth repeating. This unique park is more than just a single location; it’s a collection of sites that tells the diverse story of California’s past. This park is not just about old buildings; it’s about the stories they tell, the events they witnessed, and the role they played in shaping California’s history. From the significant mission San Francisco Solano, with its beautiful chapel and courtyard, to the Presidio of Sonoma, which offers a peek into life of soldiers in the 19th century, there is much to explore. Don’t forget the Sonoma Barracks, used by both Mexican and American military, and the Toscano Hotel, a glimpse into the hospitality of the past. Each site within the park offers a new perspective on Sonoma’s history, making another trip to the Sonoma State Historic Park an enriching experience.
Whether you are a history buff, a wine aficionado, a nature lover, or a shopper, Sonoma, California, offers a rich blend of activities that cater to every interest. From scenic plazas to historic parks, and from quaint railroads to remarkable wineries, prepare to be enchanted by the colorful tapestry of experiences in Sonoma.