When it comes to the best things to do in Sonoma Valley, this is my list of favorites after dozens of trips. Sonoma Valley is one of the places I feel so fortunate to get to return to often as it’s only a few hours away from me. I adore the Northern California small-town feeling you get here, the incredible food and wine, and the local welcome.
When it comes to visiting Sonoma, you really can’t go wrong with what you do. Not far from San Francisco, the valley is full of wonderful local restaurants, wineries, and outdoor spaces to enjoy. I find that a weekend here is my go-to for a relaxed break. It has it all.
Navigate Northern California Like a Local!
Unlock the best-kept secrets of Northern & Central California with my curated Google Map, showcasing 600+ accommodations, eateries, coffee shops, and unique experiences. Get the map here!
My latest trip done in partnership with Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau gave me the chance to experience even more of what wine country has to offer but with a twist. I spent the majority of my weekend diving deep into the array of wellness experiences on offer.
If you’re not a big wine drinker, then I think you’ll so appreciate this list of things to do in Sonoma County. So much of it is surrounded and connected by nature, with plenty to do over a weekend that feels restorative. And, of course, I had to include a few recommendations for wineries in Sonoma.
When you plan your trip to Sonoma Valley, this list has it all. Get outdoors, eat local, stay in a charming hotel, and experience all that the Sonoma Valley has to offer.
The 12 Best Things to Do in Sonoma Valley
1. Shop Local at Sonoma Valley Friday Farmer’s Market
One of my favorite local things to do is to head to the Friday Farmer’s Market. Just off the plaza on 241 West First Street, the market opens every Friday morning from 9 to 12:30 p.m. It has so many wonderful vendors from across the valley selling everything from produce to pantry staples. I love to grab a bag of seasonal produce like persimmons in the wintertime. There is also The Bejkr, a stand selling wood-fired pretzels which are so amazing.
2. Dine Local With Fresh Eats
One of my favorite parts of visiting Sonoma Valley is the chance to eat at all of the local restaurants. I have my go-to’s and some new ones I tried recently. I adore Sunflower Caffé right on the plaza for breakfast and brunch. Their Turkish eggs are fantastic, and the back courtyard is charming. For lunch, Layla at MacArthur Place is a classic for elevated eats in a stunning space — I love their fresh salads here.
Out in the valley, Spread Kitchen is my new find for Lebanese-inspired food. You can eat super healthy here and get mezze plates, the food here is nourishing and delicious. Another new find this trip was Valley Swim Club, from the owners of Valley Bar (another personal favorite.). The food is casual, seafood-focused, and great — get the Dungeness crab sandwich. And for an elevated dinner, get out to Glen Ellen for The Fig Cafe. Their food will transport you to France with classics like duck confit and seasonal cassoulet.
3. Stroll in the Sonoma Botanical Gardens
One of the great places to get outdoors is the Sonoma Botanical Gardens. It’s well worth a visit to explore the Asian woodland garden and native oak savanna (around 50+ acres) area. I love to come here to stroll to the top of the mountain where you get incredible views of the valley. With its serene atmosphere, scenic trails, and a deep commitment to preserving biodiversity, the Sonoma Botanical Gardens is a must-visit destination to get outdoors.
One of the most impressionable experiences I’ve had in Sonoma Valley has to be the forest bathing and tasting experience at Bartholomew Estate. I had this experience last week (available for private bookings as well), and can’t recommend it enough. Certified Nature Therapy Guide, Jenny Harrow-Keeler, will guide you through the Japanese meditative practice of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) out on the grounds of the estate. It’s so restorative and a chance to reconnect with your senses through nature. Afterward, you sit down to a tasting of Bartholomew Estate’s delicious wines like Pinot Noir. It’s one of those immersive experiences that combines wellness and wine you don’t want to miss.
5. Explore Bartholomew Park
One of the most wonderful areas to get outdoors just minutes from downtown Sonoma is Bartholomew Park. As part of the Bartholomew Estate, the 375 acres of vineyards, gardens, and forest are open to the public for use. You can explore the trails and grounds, whether or not you’re wine tasting which is so lovely. It is dog-friendly, so if you are looking for a place to get outdoors easily, this is it. And for those looking for family-friendly wineries in Sonoma, you can get a bottle of wine from the tasting room to enjoy on the property.
6. Have a Spa Day at The Spa at MacArthur Place
Recently renovated, The Spa at MacArthur Place is open to the public to experience its facilities and book a treatment. I spent the better part of a morning here and can say, this is now my recommended spa in the valley. The spa rooms are stunning and very tranquil, and I love that there is a private co-ed outdoor courtyard. There is a hot tub and steam room, with space to relax. The spa has several ranges of treatments — think everything from massages to 100-minute rituals to reboot you.
If you’re looking to take a weekend trip to Sonoma Valley, book in at the quaint Beltane Ranch. Set out just outside of Glen Ellen, Beltane Ranch has 6 intimate and cozy rooms available. It’s one of the best hotels in Sonoma Valley. As part of your stay, you’ll have a farm-fresh breakfast, access to the grounds, and delicious housemade cookies at check-in. You’re conveniently located in the valley to explore everything as well. If you find yourself not wanting to leave the property for a meal (because it’s truly so good), order one of their seasonal charcuterie boards. Book the best rates here.
8. Go Wine Tasting at Coursey Graves Estate
Set atop the scenic Bennett Mountain, Coursey Graves Estate Winery is one of those places you’ll want to bookmark. You take a winding road that leads you to what feels like above the clouds. The estate winery sits up on a mountain with gorgeous views, surrounded by natural landscapes and stunning gardens. It’s private and intimate, so much so, that no large tour bus can even come up to the property. The award-winning wines are exquisite, approachable, and Bordeaux-style. Book in for their 90-minute winery tour and tasting for a private experience.
9. Shop and Stroll Along the Sonoma Plaza
There is so much going on in the historic Sonoma Plaza. It’s the center of Sonoma Valley, lined with local shops, restaurants, and wine-tasting rooms. I’d block in an afternoon to go through this part of Sonoma. One of my favorite shops on the Plaza is Chateau Sonoma. It’s all things French-inspired, French antiques, and home goods. I’d also head into their back patio space for some wonderful outdoor planters and more.
10. Visit a Local Farm in Sonoma Valley
Open seasonally from April through the end of the year, my favorite local farm is Oak Hill Farm. Their “red barn” shop is open on Saturdays, where you can pop in and grab produce and other kitchen goods. It’s a wonderful local business to support when in Sonoma Valley. If you can’t make it out on Saturday, they usually have a stall at the Friday market.
11. Go Hiking in Jack London State Historic Park
Many people don’t know that Sonoma Valley is much more than wineries — there are also amazing hiking trails and parks to enjoy. One of those places is Jack London State Historic Park near Glen Ellen. The historic park has trails and backcountry areas to enjoy for recreational use. I also love that there are picnic benches as well, so you could make an afternoon of it at the park.
12. Visit the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
For modern and contemporary art, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is a spot to bookmark for your time. It’s just off the plaza and often has new exhibits throughout the year. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. and admission is free every Wednesday.
Save This Post for Later on Pinterest
PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!
These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.
1. Book Your Flights
Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.
2. Book Your Accommodations
Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.
3. Book Your Tours & Experiences
4. Book Your Car
Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.
5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access
Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.
6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.
My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are: