A few weeks ago I flew into San Francisco, rented a car, and headed north to Sonoma County. Within an hour I was cruising up Highway 1 and enjoying every minute of it. A road trip through Sonoma County is the perfect way to experience awesome views, food, and outdoor fun, while connecting with nature. Needless to say, I never had to drive too far to find the next adventure! Cruising around Sonoma, each day was full of new surprises, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it always did!
1. The Barlow - Sebastopol
The Barlow is a unique 12-and-a-half acre, open-air marketplace in Sebastopol. Stop here for local food, art, and wine tasting. There are so many little shops, all with homemade goods and yummy food. The biggest problem you’ll have is deciding where to eat first! It was early when I visited the Barlow, so most shops were still closed, but I grabbed some much-needed coffee at Taylor Made Farms, a muffin at the Village Bakery, and some juice from The Nectary. All delicious.
2. Sonoma Coast State Park
Long sandy beaches below rugged sea cliffs, a craggy coastline with natural arches, and secluded coves make Sonoma Coast State Park one of the most scenic attractions in Sonoma County - if not California. The Sonoma Coast State Park spans 17 miles and is comprised of several beaches separated by rock bluffs and headlands. Pull over anywhere along this beautiful stretch of coast between Bodega Head and Vista Trail, and just start walking. You won't be disappointed!
3. Goat Rock Beach
Probably my favorite beach along the Sonoma Coast, Goat Rock Beach is located between Goat Rock Point and the Russian River near the town of Jenner. Like a number of other beautiful beach parks along this stretch of coast, Goat Rock Beach and surrounding land is part of Sonoma Coast State Park. There are miles of trails that run along the ocean bluffs, as well as up into the rolling hills. Down near the rivers mouth, there is often a local colony of seals to watch from a respectful distance.
4. Rivers End
If you have time to spend the night along this portion of the coast, then River's End is a special place to do it. Perched over the water, River's End boasts expansive views and gourmet food. In addition to the restaurant, there are three private and cozy cabins, all with unobstructed water views and private decks.
5. Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve
It is impossible not to be impressed by Sonoma's Coastal Redwoods. The trees themselves remind me of mythological characters with personalities of their own. Spend the afternoon among these ancient giants in Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. The reserve has a number of accessable trails that wind their way through the forest.
6. AutoCamp Russian River
If you have ever wanted to stay in a luxury Airstream, then this is your chance! Relax in custom-designed suites with all the modern conveniences of a hotel room. Play games in the communal lounge, make new friends around the bon fire, or take a classic beach cruiser out for a ride. AutoCamp is an awesome experience, complete with private patios and camp fire pits. If you have the opportunity, it's absolutely worth the splurge.
7. Sonoma Canopy Tours
I can’t think of a more unique way to experience the Redwoods than on a zip line adventure with Sonoma Canopy Tours. The elaborate system of zip lines, suspension bridges, and rappels that Sonoma Canopy Tours has rigged in the Alliance Redwoods combines stunning forest views and fast-paced fun. Plus, they managed to teach me a thing or two about the amazing Redwood ecosystem along the way!