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Best Things To Do in Sonoma

Sonoma is all about the wine. Everywhere you turn, you'll spot undulating hills lined with rows of grape vines punctuated by grand architecture. Places like Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, Cline Cellars and Ravenswood Winery are some of the top-rated establishments. But travelers looking for a city fix will find it at the buzzy and historic Sonoma Plaza. Need a breath of California's ocean air? Head to Sonoma Coast State Park to traverse the area's many coastal trails. No matter how you spend your time in Sonoma, you'll be hard-pressed to find anything but rest and relaxation. 

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Sonoma

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Centered in the heart of town, the historic Sonoma Plaza is a must-do. Once a Mexican military station and a Spanish mission village, the 8-acre park is now lined with more than 100 shops, dozens of eateries, and more than 20 tasting rooms. What's more, it's a National Historic Monument. Recent visitors highly recommended spending some time here window shopping, wine tasting, dining and even letting the kids run around the on-site playground. Reviewers said the plaza's atmosphere is both charming and family-friendly, and they suggested visiting on a Tuesday morning to take advantage of the weekly farmers market.
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Shopping Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Sonoma Plaza
Centered in the heart of town, the historic Sonoma Plaza is a must-do. Once a Mexican military station and a Spanish mission village, the 8-acre park is now lined with more than 100 shops, dozens of eateries, and more than 20 tasting rooms. What's more, it's a National Historic Monument. Recent visitors highly recommended spending some time here window shopping, wine tasting, dining and even letting the kids run around the on-site playground. Reviewers said the plaza's atmosphere is both charming and family-friendly, and they suggested visiting on a Tuesday morning to take advantage of the weekly farmers market.
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#2

#2 in Sonoma

Back in the 1920s, Valeriano Jacuzzi – of the Jacuzzi bath and spa family – bought a 161-acre plot of land in Northern California, which would one day become the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Today, the vineyards contain common grape varietals like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, as well as some more unique ones like arneis. Along with wine tastings and vineyard tours, Jacuzzi also offers house-made olive oils.
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Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
Back in the 1920s, Valeriano Jacuzzi – of the Jacuzzi bath and spa family – bought a 161-acre plot of land in Northern California, which would one day become the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Today, the vineyards contain common grape varietals like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, as well as some more unique ones like arneis. Along with wine tastings and vineyard tours, Jacuzzi also offers house-made olive oils.
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#3

#3 in Sonoma

Located less than 3 miles east of Sonoma Plaza, the Buena Vista Winery is one of the region's most centralized wineries – though its rolling hills and the rustic elegance of its architecture lend it a French country ambiance. And speaking of the French, the Champagne – which the winery gets kudos for – hails from France. Here's another fun fact: Founded in 1857, Buena Vista is California's first winery to produce European varietal wines. Visitors can enjoy this historic winery by tasting its vintages and touring its facility. 
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Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Buena Vista Winery
Located less than 3 miles east of Sonoma Plaza, the Buena Vista Winery is one of the region's most centralized wineries – though its rolling hills and the rustic elegance of its architecture lend it a French country ambiance. And speaking of the French, the Champagne – which the winery gets kudos for – hails from France. Here's another fun fact: Founded in 1857, Buena Vista is California's first winery to produce European varietal wines. Visitors can enjoy this historic winery by tasting its vintages and touring its facility. 
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#4

#4 in Sonoma

Located on 1,400 acres, Jack London State Historic Park – named for the author of works like "The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" – features 20 miles of trails. The land, which London referred to as "Beauty Ranch," also features his old home, a museum about London and his family, and London's gravesite, where he was laid to rest at the age of 40.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Jack London State Historic Park
Located on 1,400 acres, Jack London State Historic Park – named for the author of works like "The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" – features 20 miles of trails. The land, which London referred to as "Beauty Ranch," also features his old home, a museum about London and his family, and London's gravesite, where he was laid to rest at the age of 40.
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#5

#5 in Sonoma

Sonoma Coast State Park is a swath of land that extends for nearly 20 miles along the Pacific Ocean from Bodega Head to Vista Trail. A number of sandy beaches, rugged shorelines and coastal prairies dot the area. Although a number of gorgeous beaches line the park, the California Department of Parks and Recreation doesn't recommend swimming as the waters are rough. Still, rock fishing, surf fishing and beach combing are popular activities here.
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Sonoma Coast State Park
Sonoma Coast State Park is a swath of land that extends for nearly 20 miles along the Pacific Ocean from Bodega Head to Vista Trail. A number of sandy beaches, rugged shorelines and coastal prairies dot the area. Although a number of gorgeous beaches line the park, the California Department of Parks and Recreation doesn't recommend swimming as the waters are rough. Still, rock fishing, surf fishing and beach combing are popular activities here.
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#6

#6 in Sonoma

As its name suggests, this winery has been family-owned and operated since 1980. Aside from its familial leadership, Benziger is perhaps best known for its biodynamic farming and winemaking. In fact, all of its wines are certified sustainable, organic or biodynamic. 
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Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Benziger Family Winery
As its name suggests, this winery has been family-owned and operated since 1980. Aside from its familial leadership, Benziger is perhaps best known for its biodynamic farming and winemaking. In fact, all of its wines are certified sustainable, organic or biodynamic. 
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#7

#7 in Sonoma

Though Nicholson Ranch is smaller than other Sonoma-area wineries (comprising 40 acres), it's a hit with visitors thanks to its intimate setting. Wines produced here – the majority of which are made with estate-grown grapes – include chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot and syrah. Another interesting facet of the production process: The vineyard ages its wines in French oak barrels, which are uniquely stored underground in caves. 
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Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Nicholson Ranch
Though Nicholson Ranch is smaller than other Sonoma-area wineries (comprising 40 acres), it's a hit with visitors thanks to its intimate setting. Wines produced here – the majority of which are made with estate-grown grapes – include chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot and syrah. Another interesting facet of the production process: The vineyard ages its wines in French oak barrels, which are uniquely stored underground in caves. 
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#8

#8 in Sonoma

Cline Cellars makes a nice flight of wines, and they do so with sustainability in mind. They even created a new method of farming – the Green String farming method – to promote biodiversity and biological cycles. And instead of using pesticides to eliminate weeds, the winery relies on a herd of 1,500 sheep and 500 goats. Guests of Cline Cellars can say hello to some of the animals on their winery tours, before which they'll also learn about the history of the property and see the barrel room.
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Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Cline Cellars
Cline Cellars makes a nice flight of wines, and they do so with sustainability in mind. They even created a new method of farming – the Green String farming method – to promote biodiversity and biological cycles. And instead of using pesticides to eliminate weeds, the winery relies on a herd of 1,500 sheep and 500 goats. Guests of Cline Cellars can say hello to some of the animals on their winery tours, before which they'll also learn about the history of the property and see the barrel room.
... more
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#9

#9 in Sonoma

Picture the Serengeti in the heart of wine country and you'll start to imagine what Safari West looks like. This African-inspired safari and nature preserve contains 900 exotic animals, such as zebras, giraffes and cheetahs, spread across 400 acres. When you're not exploring the grounds on your own two feet or in an open-air safari vehicle, spend the night gazing up at the stars in one of the preserve's luxury tents (more like glamping than camping).
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Safari West
Picture the Serengeti in the heart of wine country and you'll start to imagine what Safari West looks like. This African-inspired safari and nature preserve contains 900 exotic animals, such as zebras, giraffes and cheetahs, spread across 400 acres. When you're not exploring the grounds on your own two feet or in an open-air safari vehicle, spend the night gazing up at the stars in one of the preserve's luxury tents (more like glamping than camping).
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#10

#10 in Sonoma

Known for its award-winning zinfandels, the 40-year-old Ravenswood Winery lives by the credo of its founding winemaker, Joel Peterson: "no wimpy wines." Ravenswood is also known for its single vineyard wines, a designation that means the wine was produced from grapes from the same vineyard. Ravenswood also produces bottles of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot, among others.
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Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Ravenswood Winery
Known for its award-winning zinfandels, the 40-year-old Ravenswood Winery lives by the credo of its founding winemaker, Joel Peterson: "no wimpy wines." Ravenswood is also known for its single vineyard wines, a designation that means the wine was produced from grapes from the same vineyard. Ravenswood also produces bottles of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot, among others.
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#11

#11 in Sonoma

The Simraceway Performance Driving School affords thrill-seekers the chance to conjure their inner race car driver by putting them behind the wheel of a cutting-edge Audi or a Formula 3 car on the Sonoma Raceway. Participants also learn tricks of the track from instructors. Those who have a need for speed can sign up for lessons that range from an introduction to go-kart driving to improving your performance car control skills.
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Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Simraceway Performance Driving School
The Simraceway Performance Driving School affords thrill-seekers the chance to conjure their inner race car driver by putting them behind the wheel of a cutting-edge Audi or a Formula 3 car on the Sonoma Raceway. Participants also learn tricks of the track from instructors. Those who have a need for speed can sign up for lessons that range from an introduction to go-kart driving to improving your performance car control skills.
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