When you think of Sonoma County, the first thing that comes to mind is probably wine country. And you’re totally right! Wine is a HUGE part of this region of California. But what you might not know is that Sonoma County has so much more to offer too. From a safari with African wildebeests to acupuncture with a local herbalist, Sonoma County really has something for everyone. Here’s a 3-day itinerary, jam-packed with adventure around the famous wine region.
Huge thanks to Sonoma County for sponsoring this trip! While I was compensated for this post, all thoughts, opinions, and adventures are my own.
Arrive at Santa Rosa Airport or San Francisco Airport. If you’re flying into San Francisco you can expect a stunning 2 hour drive to Sonoma County. Honestly, this is my preferred method because the views are incredible and SFO is way cheaper to fly into. The other option, if you want to get right to the action, is to fly into the no-frills airport, conveniently locate in Sonoma County, Santa Rosa Airport.
Check into your hotel. Depending on what time you get into Sonoma County, you’ll want to either check in or drop off your bags at your hotel. I stayed at Boon Hotel + Spa which is nestled right in a forrest of redwoods. It’s a boutique hotel in Guerneville, CA that offers affordable luxury near the Russian River.
Drive to see the oldest living things. About 3 minutes from the hotel you’ll find the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Here you’ll be surrounded by some of the world’s tallest trees on Earth. Take the 45 minute hike to get some movement in your body after a long day of planes and cars.
Go get something to eat. If you’re both tired and hungry at this point, you’ll want to grab something filling, but close. I went to the hotel’s California bistro, Boon Eat + Drink, which is about a 2 minute drive from the hotel, in the center of Guerneville. Their menu changes with the seasons but I ordered the mac and cheese + pot roast and neither disappointed.
Pro Tip: Grab a seat by the window or on the patio so you can people watch while you grub. This small town had some unexpected characters that kept me entertained while stuffing my face with food and wine.
Another option for dinner, if you have the energy to drive back into town, is to visit The Barlow. It’s a 12-acre market district with local food, wine, beer, spirits and crafts made onsite by Sonoma County artisans. I didn’t make it out there but I heard great things from those who did.
End the night with a glass of wine by the poolside fire at Boon. Maybe you’ll meet other guests. Maybe you’ll get some time alone with your thoughts. Either way, this is the perfect night cap.
8:30 AM – Breakfast
Wake up bright and early and head to KC’s American Kitchen in Windsor, CA. Their breakfast menu is HUGE so you’ve tons of options to start your day off right. I chose their Kinda Famous Denver Potato Cakes because they were kinda famous. I can not stress this enough….order them. They were cheesy, carby, porky goodness served with 2 eggs and your choice of toast, biscuit, or raspberry streusel coffee cake. Obviously, I went for the coffee cake and that’s what I’ll tell you to do too. I also got a mimosa because its Sonoma County for heaven’s sake. PS – As I type this out, my mouth is drooling. Catch me making this recipe from home this week.
9:30 AM – Head to Herb Folk
If the words adaptogens, herbal medicine, and acupuncture excite you, then you need to visit Erin Wilkins at Herb Folk. Its located in this cute town called Petaluma and it’s a modern hippy’s dream! You have to make an appointment to visit her, but Erin will chat with you about Herbalism, answer any questions you have about products in her store, and if you ask nicely, she might even read your tongue if you’d like!
A few things I learned while I was there:
- Local products give more flavor, which is why Erin works with local farmers.
- Green tea is Erin’s favorite herbal medicine because it moves chi and helps with discernment.
- Erin is a 10 year acupuncturist and says that it’s great because it brings the body into restorative mode. She says it helps with emotional and mental conditioning.
11:30 AM – Wonder around Petaluma
As I mentioned, Petaluma is a cute town with tons of shops, restaurants, and art. After getting your zen on at Herb Folk, you can cool down at Laila’s Ice Cream, eat some grub at Della Fattoria, shop at Boho Bungalow, and take pictures with one of their many murals.
1:30 PM – Head to Red Car Winery
Yes, you can grab a flight and sample wines at Red Car Winery. But the coolest experience they have there is forest bathing. It was my first time hearing that term, but essentially forest bathing encourages you to spend time in nature and become aware of all your senses. Turns out this isn’t just some hippy dippy practice that someone made up. There’s actual science behind it! Forest Bathing has been found to lower blood pressure, heart rates, and levels of harmful hormones – like cortisol, which your body produces when stressed. How cool is that?
4:00 PM – Drive to the ocean for some unscheduled time along the coast
Highway 1 is one of the most beautiful drives you can take in California. Fun fact: When my mom was preggo with me, she and my dad would drive to Bodega Head to spend some time at the ocean. So of course, I was stoked to be able to visit the spots they once took me and will recommend that you do the same! Despite it being super foggy when we went, the cliffs are beautiful around Bodega Bay. You can catch some pretty incredible sunsets there too if you time it right. Head out here and grab a bite at Cafe Aquatica or the Fishetarian. Make sure you get out the car and take in the air because this place is seriously unlike anywhere I’ve seen.
Pro Tip: If you go to the Fishetarian, walk right past the picnic tables and go out to the beach to sit for an incredible view.
6:30 PM – Enjoy a Seaside Sunset dinner along the Sonoma Coast
After spending some time around Bodega, head up to Jenner, CA to grab dinner at River’s End Restaurant. I highly recommend you go before sunset so that you can catch the colors in the sky as you slurp down some of the tastiest oysters you’ll ever have. The restaurant is pretty fancy but you’ll be surprised to see how packed the bar is and how romantic it is. We saw a lot of love in the building but honestly, it was super cute.
You’ve had a jam-packed day today so go back to the hotel and get some rest. Maybe hop in that hot tub with a glass of wine? You deserve it!
8:00 AM – Oprah’s Fav Biscuits
Wake up super early again and head to Big Bottom Market for Oprah’s favorite biscuits! It’s only a 2 minute drive from your hotel. It’s a tasty breakfast that you can eat in shop or take with you on the go.
Pro tip: Grab one of their charcuterie picnic boxes to enjoy on your upcoming adventure!
9:00 AM – Head to Safari West
That’s right! There’s a safari in Sonoma County. I’ve got to admit, at first I was a little bit nervous about going to Safari West. But once I got there, those nerves went away because apparently I’m a total animal person and I didn’t even know it. This place has over 900 animals on 400 acres of land! There are all kinds of birds, zebras, wildebeests, an even rhinos and giraffes! You get to ride around in (or on) a 1950 dodge power wagon so you really feel like you’re in Africa or something.
Pro Tip: Ride on top of the power wagon. It’s a really cool experience!!
Also: Ask about their winos and rhinos tour and their twilight dinner in the treetops!
1:15 PM – Grab some lunch
After the safari, you can either grub out on that picnic charcuterie I told you to grab earlier, or head to Mi Ranchito for a quick lunch. They have birria tacos if that’s your thing! Whatever you order, ask for the hibiscus drink. It’s so good.
2:00 PM – Head to Medlock Ames for an Immersive Sound Experience
I’m telling you, these wineries in Sonoma are different. I mean first you did forest bathing, and now you’re doing a immersive sound experience? Who even are you! I love to see it. Anyways, I loved this experience at Medlock Ames. We started with a glass of wine upon arrival. Then they handed us a phone and some headphones so we could walk around their vineyard and tune in. I’m not going to spoil what they talk about, but just know its super cool and maybe even a little surprising at times. After the tour, they’ll guide you through a tasting of six current-release wines, paired with local, organic cheeses.
4:00 PM – Travel to Vintner’s Resort for the Ultimate Spa Experience
It’s no secret that I’m into all things CBD (and thc if we’re being honest), but this was a first for me. A CBD massage at the luxurious Vintner’s Resort in Sonoma County. This place is on another level hun-ty. And so was my massage. Their CBD treatment begins with a luxurious, Swedish-style massage that incorporates our CBD oil, Birch and Arnica, followed by their full spectrum CBD cream which reduces inflammation. And as if that’s not enough, they end it with a targeted application of an Arnica cooling muscle gel for those problematic tense muscles. When I tell you I walked out that mug a whole new person!? I was so relaxed I felt like I was floating.
After your massage, just take time to lounge sis. You deserve it and they have all the amenities to help you do just that. There’s a Caldarium pool that you can take your time soaking in. They have teas and waters and snacks you can munch on. You can head outside to their heated pool to swim around if you please. But if you do nothing else, make sure you hit up the steam room and allow yourself melt away.
7:00 PM – Dinner at the Vintner’s Resort Restaurant
Once you’ve regained your composure, head over to the restaurant on site, John Ash & Co. This restaurant was actually the first to introduce cooking with seasonal, locally-sourced foods and produce in Sonoma County. How cool?! The food here was fantastic, as were the drinks. Oh, and if you haven’t had your fill of wine yet, you can ask them for pairings for each dish you order and they’ll happily make recommendations.
— fin —
What an incredible way to end the trip? Honestly, this trip to Sonoma taught me to do the most, but also end every trip with a massage and a good meal. I left feeling so relaxed and even caught a spark of creativity before leaving Sonoma County. I will absolutely be visiting Sonoma County again because one thing that I learned is that there is SO much to do while there. If you’re interested in visiting and seeing what else you can get into, check out their itineraries page at https://www.sonomacounty.com/activities/trip-itineraries