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Sonoma County: Must-experience guide for new visitors

May 24, 2017 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

There are hundreds of adventures to have in Sonoma County; the choices can be daunting. Here’s a handy guide for new visitors to explore this diverse region.

Visit a winery … and beyond Home to more than 425 award-winning wineries, Sonoma County barrels a varietal for nearly every palate. Taste by region or varietal, tour vineyards, barrel rooms, and wine caves. Savor delicious food-and-wine pairings, or learn how to blend wine. “Sparkling” isn’t just about wine in Sonoma County. The area’s artisan breweries, cider houses, and distilleries offer tours as well. Be as active or as laid back as you wish, Sonoma County has a winery experience that’s right for you.

Get outdoors Stroll through ancient redwoods; or soar through the forest on a zip line. Hike remote trails through more than 60 state and regional nature parks. Paddle a canoe or kayak through various rivers, lakes, and even an ocean. Cycle backroads easy enough for a beginner or challenging enough for the pro cyclists who compete in Amgen Tour of California or the Gran Fondo. Golfers can tee off at one of 20-plus stunning courses. Go horseback riding, take a ride in a hot-air balloon, observe wildlife, or simply sit back and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Explore the coast The stunning drive along Highway 1 unveils the rugged cliffs, pristine sand beaches, stunning vistas, whale watching, and small towns nestled along more than 50 miles of coastline. The area is dramatic, yet approachable. Trails and beaches beg travelers to stop and explore on foot. State and regional parks dot the coastline, tempting with hiking, beaches, fishing, camping, water sports, and horseback riding. Or simply relax at a beach for the day, enjoy a romantic picnic, or go all-out on a camping trip. While the coast is beautiful to explore at any time, be aware that the weather can turn windy or foggy any time of year, so always bring along a windbreaker and cap.

Indulge and heal More than 50 spas, resorts, and wellness centers throughout Sonoma County offer pampering and healing treatments for the mind, body, and spirit. Indulge in unique treatments that offer local products like goat’s milk, honey, grape seeds and, of course, wine. From luxury spa resorts with gorgeous vineyard views and extensive pools to indulgent day spas, relax your way through Sonoma County.

Savor local foods Farm-to-table finds a perfect home in Sonoma County, where many restaurants owners either grow their own produce and meats or source them locally. Delve more deeply into Sonoma County’s rich culinary heritage by taking a cooking class or exploring a farm. Follow the Sonoma County Farm Trails Map to experience life on the farm with cows, sheep, llamas, honey bees, and more. Chat with local cheese makers and sample their distinctive, hand-crafted wares at the sites listed on the Sonoma Cheese Trail and Map. The county’s agricultural bounty and artisan crafts are found at one of the year-round or seasonal farmers markets.

Enjoy a festival or a performance Sonoma County celebrates wine, food, music, performing arts, fine arts, dance, and community spirit in a multitude of events, fairs, and festivals year-round. From small venues to large, the performing arts are blossoming in Sonoma County. The region boasts two world-class venues: The Green Music Center and Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. Renowned musicians perform in both the 240-seat Schroeder Hall and 1,400-seat Weill Hall at Rohnert Park’s Green Music Center, a world-class performing arts center in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country. In Santa Rosa, the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts presents an eclectic mix of music, theater, dance, comedy, lectures, and family shows on its newly renovated stage in the 1,625-seat Ruth Finley Person Theater.

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