Perfect Weekend: 48-Hours in Sonoma, USABy Angelica Malin
Planning a road trip to California? You can’t miss exploring Sonoma, one of the world’s most beautiful wine-making regions, during your visit. I totally fell in love with Sonoma – the food, the wine, the weather, the people. It’s simply perfect. If you thinking of a flying visit to Sonoma, here’s the things you simply cannot miss on a weekend break:
48-Hours in Sonoma: Where to Stay
There’s lots of fantastic hotels in Sonoma; from high-end stays to quirky, boutique hotels. Here’s our pick of the best hotels for a weekend break in Sonoma:
The Sandman Hotel has it all – the convenience of a roadside inn and the character of a vibrant Wine Country hotel. The perfect place to say to experience the best of Sonoma County – a reasonably priced hotel, The Sandman is located just off US-101, mere minutes from the area’s best wineries and breweries, outdoor activities and downtown businesses. This Santa Rosa hotel features 135 fresh and airy rooms, each including free Wi-Fi, 37-inch flat-screen HDTVs, convenient kitchenette amenities, and Malin & Goetz bath products. There’s some great facilities too, including a heated outdoor pool, soothing hot tub, and a Pool House & Bar. It’s the perfect place if you’re visiting Sonoma for the first time and want a hotel that’s a stone throw’s from Sonoma’s best sites.
If you want to treat yourself to a luxury stay, it doesn’t get much better than this. Located in the heart of Sonoma Valley, Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is Wine Country’s finest destination resort in the area. The hotel has it all – exceptional spa services, a Michelin-rated restaurant, access to championship golf at neighbouring Sonoma Golf Club and numerous complimentary fitness and wellness offerings, including daily docent-led hikes, yoga and fitness classes. We loved the rooms at this luxury hotel, ranging from recently restored handsome Fairmont heritage rooms to signature suites, many of which feature wood-burning fireplaces, patios, balconies or sunken Jacuzzi tubs. Yes, please.
Something a little bit different, Inn at Occidental is a Sonoma bed and breakfast, nestled amongst majestic redwoods in the charming village of Occidental, California. It has a great location – nearby to spectacular vineyards and orchards of Sonoma Wine Country, the stunning beaches and cliffs of the Sonoma Coast and the meandering Russian River. The accommodation is really decent – each of their 16 guestrooms features a flat screen TV, luxurious bathrobes, WiFi and unique design. Go for the folk art room for something a little fun.
48-Hours in Sonoma: Where to Eat
It’s all about the produce in Sonoma; this land is literally pleased with some incredible fruit, vegetables, meat and locally-made diary. Locals really care about the quality of their food, and this is reflected in the abundance of fantastic restaurants in the area. Here’s our favourite places to eat in Sonoma:
For healthy food, it doesn’t get much better than zazu kitchen. An authentically Farm to Table restaurant, growing much of their produce with the caring attention of farmer Richard Soss, zazu is as real as it gets. It’s all about local and seasonal food here; menus are put together after a hunt through the gardens to see what is ripe and ready. Simple and delicious, the restaurant lets ingredients do the talking. Come here for the handmade pasta, family style beef shank and delicious homemade churros with Mexican chocolate dipper.
I loved Healdsburg SHED; an all-day restaurant, deli and grocery store, supplier some of the best produce in Sonoma, including locally-made cheese, chocolate, teas and more. It’s an emporium for foodies, with incredible quality produce to buy and a banging all-day menu to sample. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast here (order the quinoa porridge, it’s mega) and loved the low-key vibe of the place. Perfect for stocking up on foodie gifts to take home, too.
If you’re in the mood for Italian, Risibisi Restaurant in downtown Petaluma serves healthy, fresh, Sonoma Italian cuisine featuring the finest local ingredients found in Sonoma County. This cite restaurant has the rustic elegance of an Italian Trattoria, with the benefit of California produce and world-class wine from the local vineyards. A winning combo, we say. Try the housemade pasta – the Fettuccine Alla Bolognese is a local favourite dish.
For ice cream, you can’t miss this counter service ice cream shop in Sebastapol. They have a great menu, featuring ice cream sundaes, shakes, floats and an espresso bar. It’s all about the quality; they make their own hot fudge sauce, caramel sauce, whipped cream and waffle cones. The flavours change daily, but some of our personal favourites were the toasted coconut and Mimi’s Mud.
48-Hours in Sonoma: Where to Drink Wine
The wine! Oh, the wine. Sonoma is famous for its wine all around the world, and there’s so many fantastic vineyards to visit in the area (over 425 wineries, if you’re wondering). Maybe sure you leave enough time to soak up all the vineyard vibes (and enough bread to soak up all the tastings). Here’s our pick of the best:
One of my favourite vineyards we visited; there’s something really special about the winery of Francis Ford Coppola, the famous Hollywood director (of The Godfather fame). The winery is decorated with pieces of set and posters from some of his most famous films, and has a really old world, glamorous Hollywood feel. They make over 40 wines on site, and having a variety of tasting and tour options on site. There’s an incredible terrace outside for enjoying their Italian food (very delicious, get the tomato rigatoni and chocolate mousse for pudding) and all the California wine in the sunshine, as well as an outdoor pool, which you can pay for day entry into. Take my word for it: just go.
This is one of the best vineyards to visit if you’re looking for amazing view and even better wines. Founded by San Francisco restauranteur Lorenzo Petroni, Petroni Vineyards is located on a breathtaking 37 acre estate on one of the highest points in Sonoma Valley, the Mayacamas Ridge. There’s something about this vineyard that just feels so Italian – you’ll feel like you’re in Tuscany, with all the old-world wines made on their land and the beautiful outdoor terraces for sipping wine in the sunshine. A perfect spot in Sonoma, we say.
You can’t visit Sonoma County without stopping by Kendall-Jackson – one of the most famous wines in all of the USA. You’ll find this wine on dinner tables throughout the country, known for their sustainable, delicious wines. It’s just so beautiful.
The gardens are really what make this vineyard – there’s over 3-acres of gardens, with organic herbs, produce and vegetables, which are used in the estate’s kitchen. One of the most spectacular places I visited in all of California!
48-Hours in Sonoma: What to Do
The largest plaza in California, Sonoma Plaza is the home to shops, restaurants, cafes and hotels, all in one central location. It’s a great place to wander, especially for boutique shopping, on a sunny weekend. There’s also lots of wine shops and tasting rooms around the plaza for picking up bottles to take home; stop by Victor Hills wines to taste some of their great selection. For food, don’t miss
There’s so many great vineyards in Sonoma, and the ones we’ve mentioned are by no means an exhaustive list. If you’re looking to make a real day of wine tasting, check out this selection of the best vineyards in Sonoma for wine tasting and tours. Bottoms up.
Petaluma Creamery was established in 1913 by a group of dairy farmers; it has spanned many blocks over the west side of downtown Petaluma for decades, reminding current residents and visitors of the town’s defining agricultural roots. You can come here for a dairy tour, and learn about the creamery’s rich (sorry) history – and you can also come here for all-day dining, with a delicious dairy-focused menu. Get the cheese toastie, obviously.
The Barlow is a 12-acre Bay Area outdoor market district in Sebastopol, California featuring local food, wine, beer, spirits and crafts made onsite by Sonoma County artisans. It’s a great place to come for a spot of shopping, drinking and dining – stroll this industrial-chic, dog-friendly campus and savour the organic edible landscaping — a nod to the rich agricultural history of The Barlow. Delicious stuff.
For more information on Sonoma, visit the official Sonoma Tourism website here.