One of my favorite parts of our long weekend in San Francisco was visiting Sonoma. It is a perfect side trip from San Francisco, especially if you enjoy wine. The cute town is home to more than 60,000 acres of vineyards and more than 400 wineries.
We got the chance to return to Sonoma on a group trip a few years later, so I’ve added notes from that trip in too. We stayed in the perfect house and enjoyed a wine tasting steps from the Downtown Sonoma Plaza.
Here is a Sonoma Travel Guide to help you plan a wonderful time in Sonoma!
Sonoma vs. Napa
In my pre-trip research and conversations during the trip, I learned that Sonoma is prettier, easier to get to and navigate, and more affordable than Napa. Sonoma also has a wider selection of wines and is known to be more laid-back. If you want an experience that is more sophisticated, Napa is the better choice. I prefer Sonoma!
How Long to Stay in Sonoma
We were in Sonoma for 24 hours and it was the right amount of time for us. We had a full day of wine tasting and were able to try two different restaurants. I would recommend staying longer if you want more wine tasting and you could even go try Napa for a day. For our second trip, we were there for about three days and spent leisurely time in Sonoma and Napa.
Getting to Sonoma
We rented a car at 9 a.m. Sunday morning in San Francisco and drove about an hour to our hotel in Sonoma. It was an easy drive with little traffic. Our Enterprise rental through Priceline was $67 (includes insurance) for two days. You can also search for companies that will pick up / drop off in San Francisco if you don’t want to rent a car or stay overnight in Sonoma. The Vantigo tour, the company I did a city tour with on my last trip, offers wine tour options.
Sonoma Wine Tour: Platypus Tours
My friend Sarah recommended Platypus Tours to us and they also have the highest reviews of any Sonoma wine tour company on TripAdvisor. We experienced their 5-star tour for ourselves and were incredibly pleased. They picked us up from our hotel for our leisurely 7-hour tour to four wineries. They keep groups small (ours had eight people) and we enjoyed getting to know everyone. Our tour guide Rob V. was passionate and knowledgeable about wine, a good driver, and prepared an excellent picnic lunch for us. He picked a good mix of boutique and well-known wineries for us, and we enjoyed the experiences at each winery. We visited Madrone Vineyards, Loxton Cellars, Buena Vista Winery, and Peter Cellars.
A wine tour is a fun way to interact with other wine-enthusiasts and you don’t have to worry about navigation or winery selection. It’s also a safer way to get around if you plan on tasting wine.
Info: $110 per person for a 7-hour group tour and includes snack and lunch. Does not include guide’s tip and at most $15 tasting fee per winery. See the FAQ on their website for more details.
On our group trip, we visited Three Sticks for a tasting. They have a beautiful courtyard and their wines were tasty!
Where to Stay in Sonoma
We had a pleasant stay at El Pueblo Inn. It was in a convenient location along the main road and minutes away from the main plaza and wineries. The room was cozy and comfortable.
On another trip to Sonoma, we stayed in this house right off the main square, which was perfect for being near all the action. This four-bedroom house has a huge living room and backyard with a hot tub. It’s about a 15-minute walk to the grocery store, which is also convenient.
We had a phenomenal dinner at The Girl & The Fig. Be sure to make a reservation in advance. The food and wine were all 5-star. They had a red or white five-glass wine flight available. We enjoyed Grass-Fed Steak Tartare, Fig & Arugula Salad, Wild Flounder, Duck Confit, and Lavender Crème Brulee.
Before leaving the little Sonoma paradise, we stopped at El Dorado Kitchen for breakfast. I enjoyed the egg white omelet with spinach, parmesan, and mushrooms and comes with fried potatoes, arugula, and a biscuit.
We enjoyed this Portuguese restaurant for dinner with friends. Mmm lots of seafood like scallops, seafood stew, octopus, and more.
For a sweet treat, stop by this ice cream shop in Sonoma square.
What to Do in Sonoma Besides Drink Wine
Sonoma has lots of parks to explore, including ones that will give you beautiful views of Sonoma. See outdoor options on the Sonoma County website.
Have you been to Sonoma or Napa? What are your recommendations?
P.S. Want to see more travel inspiration? See more travel posts here.