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.
Visitors to Sonoma are largely dependent on their own vehicles since there isn't any extensive public transportation system throughout the county that connects all points of interest. Still, considering wine tasting is one of the best things to do, travelers will also likely need to rely on some other transportation, such as a bike, trolley or bus, or they'll need to appoint a designated driver. Several car rental agencies, including Avis, Budget and Hertz, are stationed on-site at the Sonoma County airport. Visitors can also rent cars at the San Francisco and Oakland airports.
Sonoma County Transit offers limited bus service throughout Sonoma County, though it's really more of a commuting alternative for locals than a tourism-oriented option for travelers. Still, visitors might find it useful if they want to visit different towns throughout Sonoma. The color-coded bus routes charge based on a zone system, but a one-way trip through all five zones won't exceed $5 for adults.
Cycling throughout Sonoma County not only gives travelers a scenic mode of transportation – think rippling hills, crashing waves, farmhouse-peppered meadows – but it also helps them burn off some of those calories from all the wine and cheese. Various bike rental shops offer visitors everything they need for a guided or self-guided tour of area wineries. Sonoma County Tourism also offers a cache of downloadable bike maps for the cyclists who want to venture out on their own. Prices vary, but a half-day guided tour from Sonoma Valley Bike Tours will run you $108, while an all-day bike rental from Wine Country Cyclery will cost $75.
The Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley, a reproduction of a 19th century-era San Francisco cable car, takes visitors on a six-hour tour of a handful of wineries. Each seat on the trolley costs $99, and wine tasting fees at the wineries – which vary based on the season and typically cost between $5 and $10 – aren't included. Travelers will need to book their seats in advance.
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