You’ve planned your dream trip to Sonoma. Tastings at some of the best California wineries are lined up, the hotel is booked, and restaurants are reserved. But, you may wonder what else to do in Sonoma Valley besides wine tasting. Well, we’ve got you covered!
What Makes Sonoma Special?
Sonoma Valley is much more than just wine-tasting and tasting rooms. Sonoma County includes over 55 miles of coastline and is home to coastal redwoods and some of the quaintest California towns. One of the best parts of traveling to Sonoma is that you can reach most of these things to do in under an hour.
I’ve taken several trips to Sonoma myself over the years, and while I’d love to sip on a great class of local pinot noir or Chardonnay, I’ve done several trips sans alcohol myself. With many things to do in Sonoma, I’ve found that it is still worth planning a trip, even if wine-tasting rooms are not on your itinerary.
Besides wine, all of these things to do in Sonoma are the perfect addition to a weekend away or day trip. No alcohol required! So, as you start to plan out your visit, consider any of these things to do beyond wine tasting for your trip to Sonoma.
How Do I Spend A Day In Sonoma?
Sonoma Valley is so much more than wine. This part of Northern California is home to incredible dining, cheese farms, redwoods, and the coast. It makes for a beautiful blend of things to do for an enriching visit, even if you don’t drink wine.
Located north of San Francisco and west of Napa Valley, the Sonoma Valley has a long relationship with agriculture. Its roots go back to the 1800s and have continued today to sustainable growing practices. This, paired with a mild Mediterranean climate, has allowed farmers to grow everything from produce to vineyards.
You could start your morning with a delicious homemade pastry from a local bakery in Freestone and, within a thirty-minute drive, be at the Pacific Ocean. This is why we love Sonoma so much! I find that every trip I take to Sonoma has a very diverse experience to it. I can hike under the redwoods, enjoy top restaurants, and then be on the coast. This makes Sonoma so special, its unique and different experiences in food and nature.
If you need help planning your trip to Sonoma Valley, let us experts do the planning. We can help pick suitable accommodations, where to dine for the foodie, and what to see.
10 Things To Do In Sonoma Valley Beyond Wine Tasting
Walk Amongst Redwoods
If you want a break from city life, go to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. The reserve is home to majestic redwoods that are hundreds of years old, creating a lush temperate rainforest. You’ll find a few trails to explore, like the Pioneer Nature Trail, which brings you to the famous Armstrong Tree. (Note that parking here is $10 per vehicle and $9 per vehicle for seniors.)
Enjoy The State Parks In Sonoma
There are several state parks, like Sonoma State Historic Park, to consider exploring when you visit Sonoma County. Just near Glen Ellen in the valley is Jack London State Historic Park. It’s home to several hiking trails, and many locals also go horseback riding here. It’s around the corner from Quarryhill Botanical Garden, a wonderful botanical garden visit you could do right after.
Another park to consider visiting is Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. With over 25 miles of hiking, it has more challenging trails to hike for those wanting to do 3+ hour hikes. There are family-friendly hikes and more casual trails available as well.
Explore The Sonoma Coast
A westward drive from Sonoma Valley finds you at the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Sonoma County has a lovely section of coastline that starts in Bodega Bay and reaches north to the town of Gualala. For a lovely afternoon out on the coast, consider one of the many beaches of Sonoma Coast State Park.
Walk South Salmon Creek Beach
A favorite for a stroll at the beach is South Salmon Creek Beach near Bodega Head. There are nearly two miles of sand to explore here. Afterward, hop down to the town of Bodega Bay. It’s small, and one gem you can’t miss is the fresh Dungeness crab rolls from Spud Point Crab Company.
Going further up the coast to Jenner, you can rent kayaks from Watertreks Ecotours. Kayak rentals must be reserved in advance, but with some planning, you can make your way up the Russian River Estuary. It’s a beautiful part of the Russian River Valley where you can enjoy the wildlife preserve that is part of the Russian River State Marine Conservation Area.
Olive Oil Tasting
Not every tasting in Sonoma has to be wine. Sonoma Valley is home to incredible olive oil production and other artisanal local food products. There are a few places to consider going for an olive oil tasting:
This is one of California’s best local EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). Their stunning property set in the foothills of Sonoma, nearby Marin, is a beautiful solo or group excursion. Book a reservation for one of their walking tours, plus olive oil tasting, to learn more about their production.
B.R. Cohn Winery & Olive Oil Company
Not far from downtown Sonoma, you can easily pop into their Gourmet Shop to try olive oils. With over 450 trees, the Olive Hill Estate has a robust olive grove they use for their estate olive oils.
Do a Cheese-making Class
Since Sonoma Valley is home to some of the best dairy farms in the state, one way to get hands-on is with a cheese-making class. The Epicurean Connection hosts several cheesemaking classes in their Sonoma Valley location, not far from Sonoma Plaza. Hosted by award-winning cheesemaker Sheana Davis, you’ll have a chance to make specialized cheeses.
One of their most popular classes is making Creme de Ricotta, where you’ll learn how to make this delicious cheese. As part of the class, you can make a wheel of cheese or even use the flavor bar to make small individual containers of the flavor you choose. An ideal souvenir to take home from Sonoma Valley!
Get to Know the Local Farms with the Farm Trails Spring Tour
This may be one of the most fun ways to get outdoors in Sonoma Valley. Every year the Sonoma County Farm Trails organization puts together a spring tour, and 2023’s theme is Blossom, Bees, and Barnyard Babies. When you register, you visit dozens of farms and local producers.
Pop into farms to taste everything from olive oil to cheese in small farmers market format, then meet all those adorable baby farm animals. It’s an event to bookmark for the year in wine country!
Soak In A Cedar Enzyme Bath
One of the most unique experiences in the Sonoma area is a day at Osmosis Day Spa. They offer an experience called the cedar enzyme bath, a treatment you cannot find outside of Japan but here. Your journey starts in a private garden with tea, and then you spend time soaking in the tub.
This is unique to Sonoma and set out in a beautiful spa setting. Osmosis Day Spa has several other experiences, from therapeutic massages to facials. A spa day here would be the ultimate wine-free afternoon.
For those heading north of Sonoma Valley, set your maps to the quaint town of Healdsburg. Travel + Leisure Magazine named the plaza one of “America’s Most Beautiful Town Squares” for being so picturesque. You’ll find artisanal boutiques, art galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants along the square. Some weekends there is even live music!
If you want to stop in for a unique lunch, head to Little Saint, the newest restaurant in town. Opened by owners of the Three-Michelin-Star Single Thread, the farm-to-table restaurant is already a hit. The entire menu is focused on Sonoma County’s incredible local produce and sources from nearby farms.
Explore Safari West
One of the best-kept secrets in Sonoma may just be Safari West. It’s a wildlife preserve in the Santa Rosa Hills dedicated to conservation. While you could stay overnight in a luxurious tent with a private viewing deck of the wildlife, you can also stop by for the day.
You’re able to book a safari that takes you through the preserve. You’ll see animals like giraffes, zebras, and rhinos. I’ve stayed overnight before, but booking a safari for the afternoon is well worth booking. There is no petting zoo here, but they offer behind-the-scenes tours that you could add to your time there.
Where To Stay In Sonoma Valley
You have several accommodation choices when staying overnight in the Sonoma Valley. From larger resorts to boutique inns, there’s a bit of something for everyone. Our knowledgeable team can help you plan your time in Sonoma and pick the right hotel.
Have Us Plan Your California Trip
Did you know we’re also a boutique travel agency specializing in California vacation planning? If you want to plan a trip to California, our California trip planner services are here to help you plan your perfect itinerary.
Photo Credit: Opening photo of Couple drinking tea looking at view and relaxing while at Japanese Spa By Trinette Reed; Towering Redwoods By Brian Fulda