Russian River Valley & Sonoma Wine Country: Things to Do
The Sonoma County Wine Country and Russian River Valley offers a wealth of Activities & Events throughout the year. Following is a partial list of “Things to Do” to help you plan your visit. Each of our member inns offer exemplary concierge services. Please ask individual innkeepers for additional information and assistance with tickets or reservations.
Sonoma County’s location has made it the most perfect place for making fabulous wines. Visitors can expect a wealth of opportunities to visit vineyards, stop by wineries and wine tasting rooms … and to enjoy the “fruits of our labor” here in one of the most picturesque wine country regions in the world.
Explore the characteristic flavors of Sonoma County – from the finest wines, artisan cheeses and meats to the freshest, seasonal fruits and vegetables from many of our organic farms. All of this agricultural diversity is reflected in the many fine restaurants throughout Sonoma County. You can find the flavors of Sonoma County in a leisurely gourmet meal at one of our many 4-star restaurants, or in casual taquerias, cafes, take-out delicatessens and farm stands. Come enjoy the bounty of Sonoma County.
It takes a lot of great beer to make great wine. There are several world-renowned craft breweries in the wine country. Check out the Sonoma County Beer Map.
HOT AIR BALLOONS
The skies above Sonoma County are often speckled with hot-air balloons of every size, color, and design. The wide, flat valley with its moderate and (somewhat) predictable winds makes hot-air ballooning a favorite activity in the area. For a personalized ballooning experience, contact Up & Away Ballooning.
Sonoma County boasts a rich range of shops and stores where that special gift may be found. The choices run from unique, individual shops with art objects, collectibles, one-of-a-kind clothing and craft emporia to enclosed malls and factory outlets. Each community in Sonoma County has its own collection of distinctive shopping possibilities.
SOLAR LIVING INSTITUTE (SLI)
Established in 1998 in Hopland, CA, the Institute provides one- to nine-day workshops on renewable energy, green building, sustainable living, ecological design and alternative construction methods. The SLI (www.solarliving.org) manages the Solar Living Center (707-744-2017), a 12-acre renewable energy and sustainable living demonstration site that is visited by nearly 200,000 people annually.
You are never far from a farm when you visit Sonoma County. Outside our towns and cities you will find farms, market gardens, orchards, vineyards, pastures, nurseries, and wildlife preserves. You might find a 1000-acre cattle ranch with a view of the Pacific Ocean or a small ostrich or llama farm. Pick up a Farm Trails Guide and Map at local farms and you will find pick-your-own flowers, pumpkins, berries and apples. You can even cut your own Christmas tree.
Whether your preference is for distance, ruggedness, or incline, all these hiking choices are available throughout Sonoma County. We have many state and county parks. Just to name a few, you might choose to hike among the oaks of Annadel and Spring Lake Park in eastern Santa Rosa, or head west and hike in the quiet sanctuary of the giant redwoods in Armstrong Woods.
Sonoma County has a multitude of bike paths and bike lanes, and they get daily use by those who choose biking as their preferred transportation. Our county roads provide fun rides and excellent training and conditioning for competitive cyclists. Each geographical area has its own beautiful rides, and there are bike rental shops to provide all the essentials for a safe ride. Several bike-touring companies provide everything, including escort, lunch and an itinerary.
HORSE CARRIAGE TOURS
Enjoy a romantic and relaxing wine tasting tour in Sonoma County’s splendid Alexander Valley, just minutes from the historic town of Healdsburg and the beautiful Russian River. In a carriage drawn by elegant horses, travel leisurely along our scenic route through the vineyards which produce the award-winning wines you will be tasting. http://www.thewinecarriage.com/
Pamper yourself or your loved one with a treatment from one of our wonderful local spas. Choose from a full day experience to a simple massage… something to suit anyone. Facials, foot treatments, manicures/pedicures await you in Sonoma County. Let your host inn suggest a local spa or private in-room massage therapist.
Sonoma County has a variety of golf courses to tempt you. From the wind swept ocean beauty of Bodega Bay to the Redwoods course on the Russian River to the world-class courses nestled into the Mayacamus Mountains, we have something for all levels of play. Lessons and driving ranges are close at hand. Ask your host inn to help set up a tee time on a course near them.
Sonoma County is home to some wonderful museums and galleries. The Charles M. Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa is a beautiful tribute to the cartoonist and his medium. Luther Burbank Home and Gardens showcases the ingenious wonder of plant life. We even have a wild animal park that allows guests to experience the art of nature from the back of a safari jeep. Many of our quaint towns have local history museums highlighting the history and culture of our area. Art galleries surround our town plazas and the October ARTrails Open Studio Tour is a must for art lovers. Throughout the year each town hosts a variety of cultural shows, fairs, and festivals. Take advantage of our rich local culture.
The Wells Fargo Center for the Arts hosts live concerts, stage productions, and music, including the popular Santa Rosa Symphony at the facility just north of Santa Rosa. There are local community theaters in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Healdsburg with plenty of local talent. The Raven Theater in Healdsburg is host to many interesting venues from live theater to Celtic music to talent shows. Cloverdale, Healdsburg, and Santa Rosa have movie theaters for the latest shows.
LUTHER BURBANK ESTATE
Visit the site where the famous horticulturist created new plants. Visit the beautiful gardens year-round. April-Oct. Enjoy the museum, gift shop and drop-in tours.
Many wineries host concert venues throughout the year, some – under the stars. Also scheduled are numerous outdoor concerts associated with Jazz, Blues and Guitar festivals. Ask your host innkeeper about these local events. Healdsburg has Tuesday Night on the Plaza free concerts throughout the summer months…from rock and roll, to swing, to jazz, to military marching bands. Just drop by with your picnic dinner and enjoy. Each town has weekend music associated with the local breweries, pubs, or restaurants. Ask you host innkeeper for the latest schedules.
There are miles of shoreline for rock fishing and surf fishing and party boats are available at Bodega Bay as well as at Lake Sonoma. The Russian River salmon start their annual migration in late September. By late November the steelhead are running and continue through March. Spring is the best time to catch catfish. Shad appear in mid-April. As the days lengthen and the weather warms, bait your hook for bass.
Most travelers fall in love with the Russian River’s meandering course as it flows past river towns and ancient redwoods to Jenner, where it empties into the sea. Kayaking, canoeing, swimming, inner tubing, fishing, rafting and sunbathing are favorite river pastimes. You can usually spot harbor seals and shy, cow-eyed pinnipeds at the mouth of the Russian River at Goat Rock State Beach near Jenner. Armstrong Redwoods, located in Guerneville, is an 805-acre park featuring a magnificent grove of ancient redwoods, a large outdoor amphitheater, self-guided nature trails, and a variety of picnic facilities.
Try your luck at the River Rock Casino in 10 minutes away, in Geyserville, or the Sho-Ka-Wah Casino, 25 minutes away in Hopland. There is a newer casino in Graton, near Sebastopol: Graton Casino.
big bottom market
boon eat + drink
Korbel Delicatessen at Korbel Winery
PINOLI cucina rustica at Applewood Inn
Village Inn Restaurant
Canneti Roadhouse Italiana
Farmhouse Inn Restaurant
Russian River Vineyards and Restaurant
Walter Hansel Wine & Bistro
Underwood Bar and Bistro
Willow Wood Market Cafe
Howard Station Cafe
Cape Fear Cafe
707-865-2484 ext 111
OUR FAVORITE LOCAL CHEESE SHOPS
Freestone Artisan Cheese
Joe Matos Cheese Factory
Canoes, Kayaks Paddleboards!
Johnson’s Beach – Guerneville
KIngs Sport & Tackle – Guerneville
Burke’s Canoes – Forestville
Water Treks – Jenner
River’s Edge Kayak & Canoe – Healdsburg
Chanslor Stables – Sonoma Coast
Northwood Golf Course – Monte Rio
Fort Ross State Historic Park
Salt Point State Park
Bike Touring Companies:
Wine Country Bikes
Hot Air Ballooning:
Up & Away Hot Air Ballooning
The Sonoma Serengeti:
Safari West – Santa Rosa
Local Segway Tours
Charles Shultz Museum – Santa Rosa
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Santa Rosa
Pacific Coast Air Museum – Santa Rosa
BAKERIES & SUCH …
Forestville, CA 95436
Wild Flour Breads – Freestone
Raymond’s Bakery – Cazadero
Kozlowski Farms – Forestville
Gold Coast Coffee and Bakery – Duncans Mills
CRAFT BEER & CIDER IN THE RUSSIAN RIVER AREA
15045 River Road
Woodfour Brewing Company
6780 Depot Street (in the Barlow)
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Crooked Goat Brewing
120 Morris Street, Suite 120 (in the Barlow)
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Old Redwood Brewing Company
9000 Windsor River Road,
Windsor, CA 95492
Fogbelt Brewing Comapny
1305 Cleveland Ave,
Santa Rosa, CA 95450
Bear Republic Brewing Company
345 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Russian River Brewing Company
725 4th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Lagunitas Brewing Company
1280 North McDowell Blvd.
Petaluma, CA 94954
Ace Cider Pub
2064 Gravenstein Hwy N.
Sebastopol CA 95473
44F Mill Street
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Horse & Plow
1272 Gravenstein Hwy N
Sebastopol, CA 95472
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
2 days of tasting, tours, education, winemaker talks, sampling
of library wines. www.wineroad.com
FEBRUARY – MARCH
13 wineries, wine tasting, decadent treats, along 116. The Saturday before Valentine’s Day.
Two full weekends. Taste wine directly from the barrel
and sales of “wine futures.” www.wineroad.com
Always the last weekend in April. Wine, food & entertainment
at the wineries of the beautiful Dry Creek Valley. www.wdcv.com
Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival
Wine, music and fun – bathtub races, blessing of the fishing
fleet, decorated boat parade, art show, crafts. Westside Park
in Bodega Bay. www.bodegabay.com
Pick of the Vine
Food & wine tasting at the Sonoma County fairgrounds
to benefit the Ombudsman Program. (707) 526-4108
Luther Burbank Rose Parade Festival
High school bands, Rose floats, clowns, equestrians, street
festival, food booths, Italian street painting in Santa Rosa.
Taste of the Valley – Alexander Valley
Always the 1st weekend of June. (707) 431-2894
Sonoma County Showcase & Wine Auction
Always the 3rd week of July.
Sonoma County Fair
Concerts, horse racing, flower show, food, farm animals, rides,
craft show, marketplace and more. www.sonomacountyfair.com
» See 12-month calendar ...
Grape to Glass
Always the 3rd weekend in August. Vineyard tours, special tastings,
barbeques and seminars but on by the Russian River valley Winegrowers. www.rrvw.org
Wings Over Wine Country Airshow
Airshow, flying aircraft and aerobatics, Antiques, classics,
WW11 fighters, over 50 aircraft on static display at the Sonoma
County airport. www.pacificcoastairmuseum.org
Bodega Bay Seafood, Art & Wine Festival
Seafood specialties, wine & microbrew tastings, art &
crafts, live entertainment, horseback & pony rides. www.winecountryfestivals.com
Jazz & Blues Festival
World class Jazz, food & wine tasting on the river at Johnson’s
Beach in Guerneville. www.russianriverfestivals.com
Sonoma County Harvest Fair
Always the 1st weekend in October. Sample the best Sonoma County
wines and food at the Fairgrounds. www.sonomacountyfair.com
Art Trails Open Studio Tour
Approximately 140 juried artists open their studios to the public.
A Food & Wine Affair
Always the 1st full weekend in November. 2 days of Food &
wine pairing at Russian River, Dry Creek & Alexander Valley
Guerneville Parade of Lights
Home & Gardens Holiday Open House
Traditional Victorian decorations, popcorn & cranberry stringing,
holiday craft activities, Holiday marketplace.