1. It’s a Golfer’s Paradise
There are over 16 golf courses in Sonoma County, many of them near luxurious accommodations where you can celebrate a great game (or “forget” a bad one) with good food, spa facilities, and luxurious beddings.
2. Fly to New Heights
Ride a hot air balloon for a completely different kind of tour. Take lots of photos, and get a 360-degree bird’s eye view of the amazing California landscape.
3. Wash Away Your Worries
California has a natural source of hot water springs, which the Sonoma Mission Spa has turned into a holistic bathing ritual (using top-of-the-line Jacuzzis and steam rooms). Guaranteed to soothe tired muscles and worn-out spirits-and leave you glowing and refreshed. Try the other 40 treatments, too!
4. Unlock the Secrets of Wine
Go on a wine-tasting tour at any of the 200 wineries located in Sonoma county. Learn about the different kinds of grapes, and the different factors-mixture, climate, soil, and picking procedure-that make each vintage unique. By the end of the course, you’ll be the smartest person at the cocktail party.
5. Get Your Pilot’s License
Sonoma’s one of the best places to fulfill your dream of flying your own plane! From on-ground lessons to one-on-one guided flights to your first solo flight, you’ll be guided by experienced, patient flight instructors who actually care about your progress and will adapt a learning plan just for you.
6. Get a Golden Tan
This is California, after all! Hit the beaches and enjoy the great weather, the refreshing ocean, and the brilliant blue sky!
7. Explore the Arts Scene
Sonoma County has a thriving arts and crafts scene. ARTrails provides a rare opportunity for the public to meet local artists in their studios and learn about their diverse creative processes and techniques. Through hands-on demonstrations as well as intimate conversations, ARTrails artists will take you into their world for a day.
8. Mix Business and Pleasure
Santa Rosa, the largest city in Sonoma County, has excellent facilities for meetings and conventions. Go ahead, have that team building exercise or hole up for that mid-year review. Then reward yourself with a night on the town. After all that work, you deserve it!
9. It’s in the Middle of Everything
Sonoma County is just 55 miles north of San Francisco, and 30 miles east of the Pacific Ocean. That makes it very accessible to both the key business districts and premium recreation and vacation spots. Talk about having it all!
10. Let Nature Heal You
Lake Sonoma is a 17,700-acre reserve where you and your kids can escape from the stress of work and housework. Choose a quiet, shady spot under a tree where you can read a book or sketch. Or, take a calming walk through a canopy of oak, madrone, alder, redwood and bay trees. You don’t even have to worry about entertaining the kids-they can go hiking, swimming or bird watching.
11. Pay Homage to Snoopy
Visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum and see comic strips, story boards, and other “Peanuts” paraphernalia. Schulz, who called Sonoma County his hometown, was one of the most important American cartoonists-and some say, modern-day philosophers. Come and visit-you may even see The Great Pumpkin. http://www.snoopy.com
12. Live the High Life
Feel like a Hollywood star and see California via limo! This is one of the best ways to go on a wine tour. You get to sip the latest vintage in comfort, and feel very cultured, very pampered, and very elite-at least, for a few days. (Paparazzi not included.)
13. Go Skiing on Lake Tahoe
While California is primarily associated with beaches and sunny weather, you can also indulge in skiing, snow and winter sports at the Lake Tahoe area. Not a bad way to end the year!
14. See a Rare Bird
Bodega Bay is one of the favorite haunts of members of the Audobon Society, since it’s the nesting grounds of some of America’s rarest birds (and quite a few whales and ocean animals, too!). After a day of roughing it out in nature, retire to the award-winning Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa, which has ocean-view pools and spa services.
15. See Sonoma by Mountain Bike
Join small guided tours (less than 10 people) that will take you through Northern California’s best trails. Pass through Annadel State Park, meadows, coastlines, and forests of Douglas-fir, Bay, Redwood, and Manzanita. The tour includes a relaxing lunch by the lake, where you can cool off by swimming . Open to both beginner and advanced riders.
16. Explore the Wilderness
At the Pt Reyes wilderness reserve you can explore over 140 miles of hiking trails that cover diverse terrain. The view is fantastic, the air is fresh, and entrance is free. (You even get a complimentary map!) Pack a picnic lunch and you can spend the whole day there, just walking through the forest or relaxing under the shade.
17. Take a Scenic Air Tour
You may not have the time to “see everything” – at least, not in the traditional sense. But with one special scenic air tour you can travel over miles and miles of land in mere hours, taking amazing photographs and even reaching spots that are normally inaccessible by road.
Your pilot can also give geographical and historical information, or customize the trip especially for you. Visit [http://www.sonomacountyairport.com/scenic-air-tours.php] for more information.
18. Take the “Golden Route.”
California’s famous Highway 1 will take you through the world’s most beautiful coastlines. Get an amazing view of the Pacific ocean, going past beaches and tree-lined paths. Roll down the windows and breathe in the refreshing breeze. Drink in the freedom of the clear, blue horizon. No wonder it’s called the “All American Road.”
19. Discover an Ancient Forest
What a refreshing change from skyscrapers and cramped condos or office cubicles! Armstrong Woods has over 805 meters of tree groves (some dating to over 1,500 years old). These redwoods reach up to 300 feet, creating an amazing canopy for long walks and relaxing picnics.
20. Meet Mark Twain
Hear about the history of California from one of the country’s best story tellers, Mark Twain. A professional actor and historian will portray the famous writer as he talks about the beginning of his writing career in 1964, with interesting trivia on the Gold Rush woven in between.
21. Feel Like a Belle
All you need is a parasol and a hoop dress and you feel like the perfect belle of the ball, as you take a carriage ride around Lake Tahoe. You’ll be accompanied by a historian. Lots of photo opportunities. Be sure to have one picture taken of you and your special someone with the Lake in the background!
22. Be a Farmer for a Day
Go on the Farm Trails and discover Rustic America. Sonoma County is one of the US’ key agricultural areas, with the fertile soil yielding fruit, vegetables, as well as the grapes that have made it one of the world’s most famous wine areas. Farm Trails let you explore a completely different life, feeding the livestock and picking fruits.
You can even get fresh produce straight from the farmer, and visit wineries, breweries and cheese factories. This is perfect for anyone who’s ever dreamed of retiring to the countryside. Try scheduling your trip during August 11 and 12 to participate in the Apple Fair.
23. Travel by Train
Combine great wine, great food, and romantic interiors-no, not at a restaurant, but by going aboard a beautifully restored antique train (circa 1915) for a tour of the Napa Valley. You are served lunch, and given a wine tasting tour right before you board. The train also has a wine tasting car. Now that’s a unique way of “savoring” the view! http://www.winetrain.com
24. Go Kayaking on the Russian River
The Russian River winds through serene landscape, embraced on both sides by vineyards and lush landscapes. Explore this by kayak, for a serene and enchanting ride with amazing scenery embracing you from all sides, and a chance to see wildlife like snowy egrets and blue herons. Plenty of chances for swimming , too!
25. Enjoy a Moonlight Boat Ride
This is a romantic and unique way of taking in the breathtaking scenery of Lake Sonoma. The tour starts with a picnic dinner, with dessert served at sunset. Then, watch the moon rise over the lake as you explore the countryside by kayak.
26. Have a Champagne Breakfast by the Cove
Take one of the many Lake Tahoe cruises, many of which offer delightful hot and cold breakfast buffets. Some will even show videos of the historical areas and the underwater treasures of the lake. The cruise includes stops to key tourist attractions, including casinos and the best picture-perfect spots.
27. Go on a Safari
Head to the Porter Creek Road and see the Safari West Wildlife Preserve & Tent Camp. Consistently ranked as one of the favorite family attractions in Sonoma, this place is home to nearly 500 animals and birds, such as zebras, giraffes, lemurs, and big cats. Your kids will love it!
You’ll even have safari-like accommodations like canvas tents, for that “out of Africa” vibe.
28. Hear a Family Secret
The Ledson family has been making fine wines for generations. Hear some of the secrets that have made this winery so respected, and participate in special wine tours or sign up for a wine club. For your convenience you can also check in the Ledson’s Hotel, or schedule your trip during the special tasting events.
29. Have a Great Time at Howarth’s
Howarth Park, on Summerfield Road, has loads of family activities for every age and personality. You can go on a picnic underneath the oak and eucalyptus trees. Dad can go fishing or fire up a barbecue, kids can go sailing, and you can burn off those calories with a game of tennis or a relaxing jog around the park. Schedule your trip during the summer and you can even ride a carousel or a train.
30. Support the Arts
Between the Sonoma and Napa Valley you will find the di Rosa Preserve, which is home to one of the United States most extensive regional art collections. And unlike most museums around the world, the paintings are surrounded by Mother Nature’s own masterpiece: miles and miles of beautiful landscape, thanks to the vineyard setting.
31. Get a “Premium” Experience
The Ferrari- Carano Vineyards have everything you need for an unforgettable, and ultra luxurious experience. The gardens are well cultivated, the orchards heavy with the grapes that have made this one of the best vineyards in the country, and the wine shop stocked with an extensive collection of Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonneys and Merlots, as well as other accessories for the budding wine expert. You can’t call yourself a lover of wine without a visit to this place.
32. See the Works of Michael Holland
Discover one of Sonoma’s most beloved painters. He has wonderful paintings of the wine country, including the landscapes and figurative work. Art enthusiasts will see the strong influence of European artists from the turn of the century.
33. Get Yourself a New Set of “Wheels.”
Now here’s a new way of seeing the sights in Sonoma. Buy a Zappy Electric Scooter, that lets you zip past traffic and into alleys or bypaths. Shop downtown, drink in the sights, get dinner, pass by museums. Hey, at least you don’t waste time in the traffic plus you’ll be cool for “going green”. http://www.zapworld.com
34. Go Camping
Choose from several camping locations. Some are equipped with electricity and piped in water, others really let you rough it out. It all depends on your needs and preferences. Enjoy the view, the fresh air, and the opportunity to bond with family, friends or co-workers. Great for vacations or team building exercises. (Some campsites even have amphitheaters for corporate functions.)
35. Rent a Harley or Motorcycle for the Day
Only in California can you see the sights and live out your dreams of riding a motorcycle through the sunset. (Come on, admit, it, you’ve always wanted one.) Rent a Harley for several days and go where your spirit leads you.
36. Find Art and Nature in One Place
Go to the Wildwood Farm Nursery and Sculpture Garden along Sonoma Highway for an amazing Zen experience. Here you’ll see the beautiful craftsmanship of nearly 30 artists, displayed among Japanese maples and very rare plants and shrubs. You can purchase them as souvenirs (they can help you with the shipping). Definitely one of the most unique and relaxing “galleries” you’ll ever visit.
37. Train Under a “Racing Coach.”
Learn to race like a pro at the Russell Racing School, which includes course on karting, driving and other racing courses. Check out other exciting ventures at the famous Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California. You can also arrange group adventures.
38. Step into a Watercolor Scene
John Muir was a famous bird enthusiast and painter. Explore the woods that inspired some of his most popular works, by going to the Muir Woods National Monument. Tours can also take you to the nearly town of Healdsburg, wineries, and the picturesque Russian River. You can also incorporate wine tours.
39. Go on a Sightseeing “Marathon.”
Take a multi-sport tour that incorporates all the outdoor activities and attractions in Sonoma. You’ll bike, kayak, and hike, with plenty of pit stops at wineries and restaurants. It’s the perfect trip for people who love the outdoors, or those who want to exercise in a fun way. At least this is one vacation where you won’t gain several pounds from eating too much!
40. Bring Home a Priceless Pot
Why get a cheap knock off when you can invest in one of Beverly Prevost work of art? This talented potter has a studio at the Le Haye Art Center, and her works have graced restaurants and the collections of some of California’s most avid art collectors.
41. Chocoholics Paradise
Some wine tasting tours also have chocolate tasting rooms, like the Jack London Village. The premium chocolates are made with extra quality milk to yield delicious dark chocolates. You may even get a free chocolate treat!
42. Reach Out and Touch the Stars
That’s how close heaven feels like when you look at the sky through the Robert Ferguson Observatory. Great for those who have interest in Astronomy. However, check their calendar for days of public viewings. The observatory is located at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.
43. Visit Train Town
Kids will love it and adults too! This miniature rail road runs over 10 acres with over a mile of track. There are 3 antique cabooses that date back to the thirties, as well as steam and diesel engines. These are all made according to scale. Visitors can also go by the petting zoo or join the amusement rides. Train Town is found on Broadway and is open from Friday to Sunday.
44. Art Meets Technology
Enjoy classic Italian Renaissance combined with state of the art sound and light equipment at the Sebastiani Theatre. Watch special performances while feeling you’ve gone back in time. It’s located at First St. East.
45. Learn to Cook
Sign up at Ramekins Sonoma Valley Culinary School, the region’s best cooking school. You’ll learn everything from basic cooking skills to special courses on ethnic cuisine. You’ll also get strategies on running kitchens-perfect for professionals. The university also gives courses on the seasonal menus of famous chefs.
46. Get “Oil” the Facts
Sonoma may be known for its wine, but it also has a lot of other food industries, such as hand-made olive oils and wine inspired vinegars. Head for the B.R. Cohn Winery Olive Oils to find out how they use traditional methods (perfected to exacting precision) to make some of these gourmet products. It’s located at Glen Allen, along Sonoma Highway.
47. Enjoy California Cuisine
California’s abundant harvests, with fruits and vegetables available year round, has led to organic and healthy cuisine that fuses western and eastern flavors. Take a culinary tour and taste for yourself.
48. Buy a Guitar
Frankly there’s no better place. The Luthiers Gallery makes one of the best guitars handcrafted by the world’s independent craftsmen. You’ll find vintage, used and new guitars as well as accessories like strands, traps, picks, amps and strings.
It’s not a vacation if you’re stressed out while planning it. Sonoma’s studded with several spas that not only use the natural mineral sources but also offer massages, facials, and other beauty treatments. What an amazing way to relax and forget all your worries!
50. Arrange a trip – stress free!
Go to http://www.sonomacountyairport.com to save yourself time and money before you head to the Wine Country. You can also find information on attractions, flight schedules, and other services that will make it easy to plan and book your trip to Sonoma.