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Taste wine for free: Free wine tasting? We know, it sounds too good to be true. But, believe it or not, some local wineries don't charge tasting fees. Adastra Wines in Sonoma, Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guernevile, Gopfrich Winery in Healdsburg and Locals Tasting Room in Geyserville are a few local wineries that offer complimentary tastings. For a comprehensive list of free wine tastings, click here. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Rock out at a free concert: Montgomery Village shopping center hosts free concerts through October. The summer concert series includes "Rockin' Concerts," "Concerts Under the Stars" and "Sunday Terrace Concerts," featuring local rock, jazz, country, r&b and tribute bands. Wine, beer and other beverages are for sale - proceeds benefit local non-profits. For more information visit mvshops.com. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Take a dip in Lake Sonoma: From above, it may look like the Mediterranean - but it’s actually Lake Sonoma! Soak up the end of summer by the lake; take a hike, picnic on the beach, go out on a boat or swim. For other Sonoma County swimming holes, click here. (Photo by instagram.com/merriedlife)
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Follow in the footsteps of Jack London: Much traveled and acclaimed writer Jack London set down roots in Sonoma County in 1905. In the years to come, London's Glen Ellen “Beauty Ranch” became his primary focus; the author spent his final years here. Today, the public can tour London's property - now the Jack London State Historic Park - for $5 (if you enter on foot or bike; parking is $10). Note: The House of Happy Walls museum is closed for redesign until November 10; in the meantime, admission to the Jack London cottage is free. (Photo by Conner Jay)
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Get in touch with your artistic side: Whether you're an art aficionado or a newbie to the art scene, you'll find something to enjoy in Sonoma County. Florence Avenue in Sebastopol features a quirky series of junk art by Patrick Amiot. Other local favorites include Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills, with its indoor display of early California paintings, and Sonoma County's art walks, such as Sonoma County Art Trails Open Studios or the Geyserville Sculpture Garden (pictured). (Photo by Peter Crompton)
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The newly reopened sculpture garden at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa is free to view for visitors on weekends from 11-4pm. The iconic "Love" sculpture became a symbol of resilience after it survived the Tubbs fire that destroyed the winery in October 2017. The popular garden now features new additions, offering something different to be admired at each visit. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Catch a free outdoor movie at the Green Music Center: Pack a picnic and bring a blanket to the lawn at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center. During summer, "Movies on the Green" are free. Upcoming screenings include "Black Panther" on September 7. Check out more free shows here. (Photo by Nikki Anderson)
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Experience life on the farm and see cute animals: In October, Sonoma County farmers will open their gates and barn doors to offer a behind-the-scenes peek at life on the farm. Meet farmers and vintners, shop from farm-stands, see how cheese is made, pick pumpkins, meet farm animals, learn about beekeeping, sample food and drinks and discover some of Sonoma County's best kept secrets. Most of the stops are free. Weekend Along The Farm Trails is Oct 13 – Oct 14, 10am to 4pm. Sign up through Farm Trails here. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Embrace your inner nature-lover: Sonoma County may be a wine-lover's paradise but, award-winning bottles aside, the most mind altering experiences can be found outside the tasting room - in the great outdoors. Hike through forests, take a walk along the coast, climb a mountain, circle lakes and ponds - all this, and more, can be done at Sonoma County's 50+ regional parks. Parking at most parks is $7; an annual parks pass is $69. (Photo by Kent Porter)
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Shuck your own oyster lunch: Take a day trip to Marshall, and book a table at Hog Island Oyster Co. for a chance to shuck your own oysters. For $5 per person, Hog Island will provide shucking tools, lessons, a grill, and delicious toppings to go with your fresh caught oysters. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Learn about the local history: Open the portal to the past at a variety of Sonoma County sites. Watch mid-1800s Mexican-California come to life at Petaluma Adobe State Park. Visit the historical attractions around Sonoma Plaza at Sonoma State Historic Park; sites include the Mission San Francisco Solano, the Blue Wing Inn, Sonoma Barracks, the Toscano Hotel, the Servants Quarters (the remains of La Casa Grande) and General Mariano Vallejo’s home — Lachryma Montis (less than a mile west of the plaza). Admission at both parks is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for children between 6 and 16, and free for children under 5. More historical sites to visit in Sonoma County here.
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Jump into the Russian River: Lounge on the beach and swim in the shallows of the Russian River while it's still warm. Forestville River Access offers free parking and a wide, sandy beach for a day of relaxation. For 20 more fun things to do by the Russian River, click here.
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Stand in awe of the Armstrong Redwoods: Magnificent, 1,200-year-old Sequoia sempervirens, commonly known as coastal redwoods, tower near Guerneville - in a way that makes humans feel very small and very serene. Arrive early and with jackets to combat the marine chill. At 7:45 a.m., you’ll find an empty parking lot and the quiet woods, sans Segways and a horde taking smartphone selfies. This is a good spot to take first-time visitors to Sonoma County. Free admission.
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Browse books at a used bookstore: Secondhand bookstores are a wonderful place to spend a lazy afternoon. Take in the comforting smell of the old books that fill the shelves and line the walls while you leaf through a range of genres in bookstores like Treehorn Books in Santa Rosa and Readers Books in Sonoma. Pick out a good read and support a good business - you'll find plenty of good picks for $10 and under. (Photo by Erik Castro)
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Pair your hike with some stargazing: After reopening following last October's firestorm, Sugarloaf State Park is back and better than ever. The park offers not only hiking and camping opportunities, but also stargazing at the Robert Ferguson Observatory. On Saturday, September 8, the observatory hosts a Star Party at 8pm, there's also a solar viewing on the same date at 11am. More upcoming observatory events here. (Photo by Diane Askew)
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Get outside with Landpaths: Landpaths' goal is to make the diverse beauty of Sonoma County accessible to everyone. The environmental nonprofit offers free guided and unguided tours, volunteer opportunities, and various events at their properties across the county. Visit one of their six preserves, including Rancho Mark West, Bayer Farm & Neighborhood Gardens, Riddell Preserve, Fitch Mountain, Grove of Old Trees, and Bohemia Ecological Preserve (pictured.) (Photo by John Burgess)
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Wander the lavender labyrinth at Bees N Blooms: Bees N Blooms, a farm located at the foot of Santa Rosa's Taylor Mountain, is home to thousands of honeybees, a variety of flowers, a tree nursery and a lavender labyrinth. Visitors can explore the farm, learn how to protect the honeybees and roam the labyrinth for free during Farm Trails Weekend, October 13-14. More information here.
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Drive along the Sonoma Coast: Bring a blanket, snacks, and beach chair and take a ride along the coast. There are plenty of spots for free parking, including the lot for Salmon Creek and Portugese Beach. Take in the scenery and try to spot wildlife in the ocean. You can park for free at Bodega Head and hike along the trails, searching for grey whales during migration season. If you drive to Jenner, you may catch a free seal show! More hidden beaches and secret spots on the coast here.
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