Locals’ Guide to Sonoma County

Where’s your favorite spot to take visitors in Sonoma County? We asked locals to share their top picks for where they take out-of-towners looking for a unique SoCo experience. Here are some of our favorites — from the obvious to the surprising.

Goat Rock State Beach is a gorgeous spot along the Sonoma County coast, where you can see the ocean for miles on end. It may not be as warm as Southern California beaches, but the crisp, clear air creates a beautiful horizon. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)
Goat Rock State Beach is a gorgeous spot along the Sonoma County coast, where you can see the ocean for miles on end. It may not be as warm as Southern California beaches, but the crisp, clear air creates a beautiful horizon. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)
Skip Muir Woods, this is where the locals go to enjoy the redwoods. Walk among centuries old redwoods at Armstrong Woods State Park near Guerneville. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 6/12/2003: D1: At Armstrong Woods State Park near Guerneville, Minnesota resident Jane Fisher cools off beneath the shade of towering redwoods where it was 68 degrees.
Skip Muir Woods, this is where the locals go to enjoy the redwoods. Walk among centuries old redwoods at Armstrong Woods State Park near Guerneville. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)
Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville is a three-fer for visitors: Great wine tasting at Sonoma’s own mini-chateau; one of our favorite Italian restaurants (Rustic) featuring Frances’ favorite homestyle dishes; and a museum of some of the Oscar-winning directors’ movie memorabilia from the Godfather, Dracula and Apocalypse now. Plus, a fabulous public pool in the summer. (Jeff Kan Lee/ The Press Democrat)
Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville is a three-fer for visitors: Great wine tasting at Sonoma’s own mini-chateau; one of our favorite Italian restaurants (Rustic) featuring Frances’ favorite homestyle dishes; and a museum of some of the Oscar-winning directors’ movie memorabilia from the Godfather, Dracula and Apocalypse now. Plus, a fabulous public pool in the summer. (Jeff Kan Lee/ The Press Democrat)
Sick of the lines to get a beer at Lagunitas or Russian River? Bear Republic Brewing Co., in Healdsburg is the spot locals go to get a good beer and a meal away from the crowds. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Sick of the lines to get a beer at Lagunitas or Russian River? Bear Republic Brewing Co., in Healdsburg is the spot locals go to get a good beer and a meal away from the crowds. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
From the taffy and kite stores, to eating Dungeness crab, hiking and just taking in a little fresh salt air, the Bodega Bay Coast gets top marks from visitors. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)
From the taffy and kite stores, to eating Dungeness crab, hiking and just taking in a little fresh salt air, the Bodega Bay Coast gets top marks from visitors. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)
Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen has several trails with beautiful views as well as historic buildings to explore. (Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat)
Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen has several trails with beautiful views as well as historic buildings to explore. (Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat)
In for a good sweat? The Kings Ridge is a famous road popular among hardcore cyclists, this hill is not for the faint of heart, but the views from the top are mesmerizing. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)
In for a good sweat? The Kings Ridge is a famous road popular among hardcore cyclists, this hill is not for the faint of heart, but the views from the top are mesmerizing. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)
Visiting Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guernville is like taking a step back in time; the cellars first opened in 1882. The historic building, is a different sort of tasting room experience with rich history and delicious glass of bubbly. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)
Visiting Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guernville is like taking a step back in time; the cellars first opened in 1882. The historic building, is a different sort of tasting room experience with rich history and delicious glass of bubbly. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)
Locals, especially Sonoma State Students, love this healthy vegetarian fast food option. Amy's Kitchen Restaurant and drive-thru is one of the first vegetarian/vegan fast food restaurants in the country and keeps having long lines pretty much every day. Special favorites are the Mac and Cheese and the Chili. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)
Locals, especially Sonoma State Students, love this healthy vegetarian fast food option. Amy’s Kitchen Restaurant and drive-thru is one of the first vegetarian/vegan fast food restaurants in the country and keeps having long lines pretty much every day. Special favorites are the Mac and Cheese and the Chili. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)
Helen Putnam Park in Petaluma has hiking trails that lead to beautiful views of Petaluma Valley, and is a dog-friendly park. (Jenna Fischer / The Press Democrat)
Helen Putnam Park in Petaluma has hiking trails that lead to beautiful views of Petaluma Valley, and is a dog-friendly park. (Jenna Fischer / The Press Democrat)
Lagunitas Brewing Co. is not only known for its beer, but also its inviting patio where you can see live music and entertainment. Bring the whole family, including your pup. (Chris Hardy / The Press Democrat)
Lagunitas Brewing Co. is not only known for its beer, but also its inviting patio where you can see live music and entertainment. Bring the whole family, including your pup. (Chris Hardy / The Press Democrat)
Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park features the mansion built for General Vallejo in 1857. The beautiful, historic building is just out of the way enough that usually the park is quiet and peaceful. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)
Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park features the mansion built for General Vallejo in 1857. The beautiful, historic building is just out of the way enough that usually the park is quiet and peaceful. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)
Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves gives a different kind of wine experience: the tasting rooms are in literal caves under the vineyard. The tasting caves are incredibly welcoming and warm, despite being underground. During the summer, you can escape the heat and have delicious wine. (Courtesy / Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves)
Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves gives a different kind of wine experience: the tasting rooms are in literal caves under the vineyard. The tasting caves are incredibly welcoming and warm, despite being underground. During the summer, you can escape the heat and have delicious wine. (Courtesy / Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves)
Copperfield's Books, located in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Petaluma and Sebastopol. Lazy weekend afternoons sipping coffee, browsing new releases and perusing the latest Vogue (or Road and Track) is a favorite Sonoma County activity. Because local bookstores really are the heart of our community. Not to mention that it’s the best place for author signings and discussions. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)
Copperfield’s Books, located in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Petaluma and Sebastopol. Lazy weekend afternoons sipping coffee, browsing new releases and perusing the latest Vogue (or Road and Track) is a favorite Sonoma County activity. Because local bookstores really are the heart of our community. Not to mention that it’s the best place for author signings and discussions. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)
Get up close and personal with Sonoma County’s bounty at seasonal and year-round markets from Healdsburg to Occidental. Santa Rosa has two year-round markets with everything from artisan cheese and locally-caught seafood to sushi burritos and bone broth. (Raspberries from the Sebastopol Berry Farm, BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)
Get up close and personal with Sonoma County’s bounty at seasonal and year-round markets from Healdsburg to Occidental. Santa Rosa has two year-round markets with everything from artisan cheese and locally-caught seafood to sushi burritos and bone broth. (Raspberries from the Sebastopol Berry Farm, BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)
Sit among golden sunflowers and other beautiful flowers as you sip your wine at Lynmar Winery in Sebastopol. Away from the tourists crowds, you can find your own bubble of peace in these lovely gardens. (Chris Hardy / The Press Democrat)
Sit among golden sunflowers and other beautiful flowers as you sip your wine at Lynmar Winery in Sebastopol. Away from the tourists crowds, you can find your own bubble of peace in these lovely gardens. (Chris Hardy / The Press Democrat)
Made Local Marketplace in downtown Santa Rosa features products made in Sonoma County by over 300 local artists, crafters and makers. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Made Local Marketplace in downtown Santa Rosa features products made in Sonoma County by over 300 local artists, crafters and makers. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Visitors have dinner in view of the Russian River on the patio of Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville. Don't miss the infamously named "Donkey Punch", a refreshing hoppy lager with a kick, and a thick body. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)
Visitors have dinner in view of the Russian River on the patio of Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville. Don’t miss the infamously named “Donkey Punch”, a refreshing hoppy lager with a kick, and a thick body. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)
Sonoma County taco trucks, like El Roy's Mexican Grill, are one of a kind. Every tourist trip should including stopping at Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa for one of the taco trucks. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Sonoma County taco trucks, like El Roy’s Mexican Grill, are one of a kind. Every tourist trip should including stopping at Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa for one of the taco trucks. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Iron Horse Vineyards: No fancy tasting room, just outside with a plank on 2 barrels, you sip on sparkling wine and watch the amazing view of the valley. No better way to start a wine tour. (Courtesy / Iron Horse Vineyards)
Iron Horse Vineyards: No fancy tasting room, just outside with a plank on 2 barrels, you sip on sparkling wine and watch the amazing view of the valley. No better way to start a wine tour. (Courtesy / Iron Horse Vineyards)
Yeah we know, this one everyone knows about, but it is a must. Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa draws crowds from all over for their famous Pliny the Younger, it might take awhile to get it, but this beer is still worth the wait. Get the flight of beers where you can try all their different ones. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/ Press Democrat)
Yeah we know, this one everyone knows about, but it is a must. Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa draws crowds from all over for their famous Pliny the Younger, it might take awhile to get it, but this beer is still worth the wait. Get the flight of beers where you can try all their different ones. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/ Press Democrat)
Wild Flour Bread in Freestone serves up a daily selection of fresh-baked scones, both sweet and savory, featuring indulgent ingredients such as fresh fruit, marzipan and herbs grown in an open-to-the-public outdoor garden adjacent to the bakery. Grab a scone and a cup of coffee and a loaf of goat cheese flat bread to go and use it to fuel your hike along the Sonoma Coast. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)
Wild Flour Bread in Freestone serves up a daily selection of fresh-baked scones, both sweet and savory, featuring indulgent ingredients such as fresh fruit, marzipan and herbs grown in an open-to-the-public outdoor garden adjacent to the bakery. Grab a scone and a cup of coffee and a loaf of goat cheese flat bread to go and use it to fuel your hike along the Sonoma Coast. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)
Watch small airplanes take off and land while eating your ham and eggs in the little aviation-themed Two Niner Diner at the Petaluma Municipal Airport. Try the blueberry coffee cake. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)
Watch small airplanes take off and land while eating your ham and eggs in the little aviation-themed Two Niner Diner at the Petaluma Municipal Airport. Try the blueberry coffee cake. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

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