Why Go To Sonoma

Sonoma, a county in Northern California known for its bucolic charms and array of wineries, could also be described as Napa's rustic, less-refined and more-relaxed sister. Its rolling hills, which rise into the Sonoma Mountains and descend to the Pacific shore, also contain a cache of small cities that are worth a visit: Try Santa Rosa for an urban escape, complete with museums and buzzy restaurants, but pop by Glen Ellen for a slice of small-town Americana. In short, if you want a laid-back introduction to stellar vintages and gorgeous properties, Sonoma – rather than Napa – should be your California wine country destination.

READ MORE 

Find Flight and Hotel Deals

FLIGHTS
HOTELS

Press the down arrow key to interact with the calendar and select a date. Press the question mark key to get the keyboard shortcuts for changing dates.

Press the down arrow key to interact with the calendar and select a date. Press the question mark key to get the keyboard shortcuts for changing dates.

Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Best of Sonoma

Sonoma Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Sonoma is between June and October when the weather is at its finest, with high temps hovering in the mid-80s in June and the upper 70s in October. Unfortunately, this time of year is also when the crowds are the thickest and hotel rates are at their highest. But the good thing is that wineries are open year-round, with the exception of major holidays. For thinner crowds and lower prices, travelers should book their trip between the months of November and May.

Weather in Sonoma

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
56
38
62
40
65
42
70
43
76
47
83
51
87
53
87
52
85
51
77
47
65
42
56
38
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
6
6.2
4.41
1.8
1.1
0.2
0
0.1
0.2
1.6
3.9
6.2
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
See details for When to Visit Sonoma

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • There's a friendly rivalry Sonoma and Napa have a healthy rivalry. In fact, Sonoma locals will playfully refer to their northern neighbor just as "a four-letter word."
  • You'll need a reservation If you're winery-hopping as part of a large group (seven or more people), you'll want to make reservations in advance.
  • Try a brew too Sonoma's landscape is a patchwork of vineyards, but breweries are big too. In fact, the region boasts of dozens of them.

How to Save Money in Sonoma

  • Stick to the free tastings If you're traveling as part of a small group (six people or fewer), some wineries offer complimentary wine tastings.
  • Book a bike Renting a bicycle is cheaper than booking a chartered bus or car to tour area wineries and vineyards.
  • Pack a picnic Some of the wineries, such as Cline Cellars, allow you to bring your own food, which will help you cut down on costs.

What to Eat

Although Napa wins the most praise for its fine dining establishments, Sonoma contains an array of delicious eateries that are, on the whole, more rustic in ambiance. (And that's just the way locals like them.)

Obviously, the region is known for its wines, especially its zinfandels at places like Ravenswood. But the region is also known for its dozens of breweries, such as Bear Republic Brewing Co. in Healdsburg and Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa. And if you need a shot of espresso after all of that vino, visitors suggest you swing by Sunflower Caffé Expresso & Wine in Sonoma proper. The region is also home to several popular casual eateries, such as traveler-recommended Picazo Café & Deli (try the burger) and Angelo's Wine Country Deli.  Experts give Bodega Bay's Terrapin Creek and Petaluma's Cucina Paradiso high praise for both atmosphere and cuisine. And along with tasting wine in Sonoma, visitors should also sample the locally made cheeses, olive oils and honeys, which are found throughout the region in various shops and farmers markets.

READ MORE 
Explore restaurants

Getting Around Sonoma

The best way to get around Sonoma is by car. It's both the most economical and the most practical way to traverse this wide swath of Northern California. Still, to fully enjoy days spent winery hopping, it's best to opt for another mode of transport, such as a bicycle, bus or trolley. To get to the region, travelers can fly into the Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport (STS). Though this airport is small (Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are the only four carriers that service the airport), it's less than 10 miles north of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK) are each about 60 miles south of the region. Amtrak and Greyhound also operate in and out of the area.

Photos

Sonoma
Sonoma
1 of 17

Sonoma's Cline Cellars affords breathtaking views from its vineyard.

Megan Cline/Cline Cellars

Explore More of Sonoma

Recommended

10 Amazing Montana Vacations

Breathtaking landscapes and year-round outdoor adventures will inspire you to visit Big Sky Country.

Gwen PratesiMay 20, 2019

The 13 Best Savannah Tours

Experience real southern hospitality when visiting Savannah with these top tours.

John RodwanMay 16, 2019

The 15 Best Boston Tours

Get to know one of America's most historic cities with these tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonMay 14, 2019

The 18 Best New Orleans Tours

With so much to see and do in New Orleans, these tours will help you maximize your time in the Big Easy.

Claire LawtonMay 10, 2019

The 7 Best Chicago Boat Tours

These low-key tours offer unique views of a city famed for its skyline.

Holly JohnsonMay 9, 2019

30 Cheap Weekend Getaways in the USA

From beach destinations to amusement parks, these vacations are perfect for an affordable and quick trip.

Holly JohnsonMay 9, 2019

The 15 Best Chicago Tours

Foodies, boat enthusiasts and historians alike will appreciate any one of these tours of the Windy City.

John RodwanMay 8, 2019

16 Incredible Midwest Vacations

See which outstanding escapes showcase some of Middle America's top destinations.

Lyn MettlerApril 29, 2019

The 21 Most Beautiful Waterfalls to See Around the World

Discover which stunning falls offer once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.

Kyle McCarthyApril 25, 2019

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019