A local’s guide on where to stay, eat and explore in Sonoma.
A local’s guide on where to stay, eat and explore in Sonoma
Sonoma is a small town with a big variety of things to see and do. Founded in 1835 and regarded as the birthplace of the California wine industry, the town is a destination for history buffs, wine lovers and anyone looking for a relaxing way to spend a day, weekend or longer. Neighboring communities throughout Sonoma Valley provide even more opportunities for exploration.
Here are a few local spots residents and visitors should add to their agenda.
The Swiss Hotel: Locals have been dining – and drinking – at the Swiss Hotel for generations. The Sonoma Plaza restaurant and bar (and five guest rooms) has been operated by the same family since the 1920s. Last month the Swiss Hotel was named the Sonoma County small business of the year. Selections include salads, wood-fired pizza, pasta and entrees from eggplant Parmesan to steak. Don’t overlook the decadent desserts, like tiramisu with cappuccino sauce. Reservations accepted.
Homegrown Bagels: This casual bagel shop is something of a local institution. It’s been providing the community with dense, New York-style bagels for more than 40 years. Locals line up for their favorites like everything bagels, garlic and jalapeno among the options. Arrive early for the best selection. The menu includes coffee, egg sandwiches, specialties and spreads like the flavorful Homegrown herb.
Location: 201 W. Napa St., No. 21, in the Marketplace Shopping Center
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. daily but sometimes sells out early
Sunflower Caffe: This relaxed eatery is the perfect place to grab a specialty coffee or cup of tea to start your day, or relax in the afternoon with a glass of wine, smoothie, hard seltzer or lavender lemonade. There are plenty of beverages to choose from, and the family-owned cafe also offers seasonal brunch selections including a popular avocado toast.
Location: 421 First St. W., Sonoma
Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily
Sonoma State Historic Park: Learn about Sonoma’s rich history – including the Bear Flag Revolt – by visiting the six historical sites within Sonoma State Historic Park. Special events, lectures and self-guided and docent-led tours are available to help bring history to life. Sites include Mission San Francisco Solano, the northernmost of California’s 21 missions, Sonoma Barracks and the General Vallejo Home, Lachryma Montis.
Location: 20 E. Spain St.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, gift shop open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Monday
Depot Park Museum: Housed within a replica 100-year-old train depot, the Sonoma Valley Historical Society operates this impressive museum dedicated to history in the Valley of the Moon. The Rand Room highlights the heyday of the region’s railroad era, with model trains, photographs and memorabilia. Also watch for special exhibitions, along with permanent displays of a bygone era.
Sonoma Mountain Cemetery: Visiting a cemetery doesn’t have to be macabre, especially when it highlights local history. Download or pick up the Mountain Cemetery Walking Tour brochure at the Sonoma Overlook Trail kiosk at the cemetery entrance or at the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau on the Sonoma Plaza. The hillside cemetery, established in 1841, is one of the oldest operating cemeteries in the western U.S. It includes the burial sites of local town founders and a Revolutionary War veteran.
Sonoma Plaza: The crown jewel of Sonoma, this historic 8-acre downtown square is the largest in California. Anchored by Sonoma City Hall (dedicated in 1908), the Plaza park includes two playgrounds, picnic tables, a duck pond, the Bear Flag monument and a life-size statue of General Mariano Vallejo resting on a bench — a perfect spot for a selfie with the town founder. There’s plenty of lawn and shade, ideal for a relaxing stop between sightseeing, wine tasting or browsing the Plaza’s many shops and art galleries. While the town is dog-friendly, pooches are not permitted in the park.
The above was written by Dianne Reber Hart for the Press Democrat, September 21, 2022 See original article