10 things to do in Sonoma without tasting the wines


Sonoma Wine country

Sonoma Wine country


10 things to do in Sonoma without tasting the wines

Sonoma County in Northern California is an attractive destination point for wine lovers. But, it is also an amazing place to visit even if you are not into visiting wineries or tasting many of the award-winning Sonoma wines. Covering an area spanning  gorgeous coastlines and the rugged coastal range protecting the various appellations and valleys in Sonoma’s wine country, it ends between the mountain range dividing Sonoma and Napa counties. There are plenty of adventures, activities and places to visit in Sonoma that will keep you engaged and active driving all over the valley.

Following are 10 key attractions, cities and unique places to visit in Sonoma County that doesn’t require you to taste the any of the wines from the area.



Russian Expansion to America

Church and trade center

1) Visit a State Park in Sonoma

There is so much history tied to the California State parks in Sonoma County and many places to choose from including: the gorgeous bay and park at Salt Point, The Jack London State Historic park, the Petaluma Adobe State Park, and historic Fort Ross. I wrote a post recently about the historic fort at Ross, take a look at my article here.  For more information about some other Federal and state parks in Sonoma visit this site.


2) Russian River pursuits

The Russian river in West Sonoma County hosts a variety of river oriented activities including rafting, boating or just laying on a nice warm beach. You can visit the quaint river communities of Guerneville, Forestville and Rio-Nido for a relaxing river getaway. There are many Russian River wineries to visit if you are interested in trying some of the local wines in the area. For some sample itineraries and ideas about what to do along the Russian River visit this website here.


3) Hike through a redwood forest at Armstrong Woods

Come and see some amazing mature redwood trees and hike in serene majesty and quiet at Armstrong Woods State Park just outside of Guerneville and the Russian river. The parks extensive trails are relatively quiet in many of the popular trails along the bottom and reaching all the way to the crest line with magnificent views of the Russian River valley from above. To learn more about Armstrong Woods and the park, go visit their website here.


Sonoma City Hall

Sonoma City Hall

4) Historic and trendy Sonoma city

The historic city of Sonoma was formed around a plaza and the mission at San Francisco de Solano. You will find many wonderful dining venues, art, antique and great shopping, along with the historic buildings and architecture of victorian Sonoma. To learn more about attractions around the city, take a look my recent post on Sonoma city here.


Coastal bay at Fort Ross

Coastal bay at Fort Ross

5) Along the Sonoma Coast

A coastal drive along Highway one from Jenner and Bodega bay all the way up to Gualala is a beautiful way to experience nature and the wild, scenic Sonoma coastline. Exploring the spectacular coastal drive along Highway one will reward you with panoramic vistas, quaint coastal towns, amazing seafood venues and solitary beaches worth exploring. For some trip ideas and itineraries of the coastal area, check out the Sonoma website here.


6) Art galleries and hip boutiques in Healdsburg

Healdsburg is the destination spot in Sonoma county for hip shopping and a plethora of art inspired galleries and boutiques. The main shopping area around the main square in Healdsburg is populated with trendy shops, dining venues and art galleries that are easy to walk through and fun to explore.  Just outside and around the city are many outdoor activities and recreational facilities along with over 100 wineries to visit in the area. To learn more about Healdsburg and current happenings visit their website here.  


7) Antique shopping in Petaluma

Preserving its unique and historic downtown, Petaluma is a very charming city located along the Petaluma River. The city has an old downtown center which showcases many antique shops, art galleries and boutiques. The Victorian district is well-preserved along with intact older neighborhoods, reflecting a  quaint old city that preserves its heritage. To learn more about Petaluma and current happenings visit their website here.



sculpture in between the grasses

sculpture in between the grasses


8) Cornerstone gardens and design

For visitors interested in checking out the latest in design, architecture, landscape and home lifestyle – they should visit Cornerstone gardens just outside of Sonoma city on Highway 121. An eclectic and dynamic place combining many creative ideas, shopping, dining and wine tasting, all into one amazing center. Take a look at my recent garden post here and the post I did about the various boutiques and galleries here showcasing Cornerstone.


9) Unwind at top spas and resorts in style

For those interested in some pampering and spa lifestyle,  there are over 40 spas and wellness centers to help you to unwind your body and spirit.  You will find unique and local treatments like a cedar enzyme bath at Osmosis to a wine bath in an oversized tub at the Kenwood Inn and spa. There are many choices and unique offerings available through these centers all around Sonoma. For an overview of these treatments and spas, visit the Sonoma website here


10) Enjoy a variety of recreation

Whether you want to try ballooning over wine country, a challenging 18 hole golf course, or a lazy canoe paddle down the Russian River, there’s no shortage of recreational activities to pursue in Sonoma. Popular activities in the area include visiting a wild safari preserve, Sonoma canopy zip line through the coastal forest, visiting a wine cave,  mountain biking or horseback riding, the list is endless. Here are some more suggestions for Sonoma recreation and activities.


So, if you are also visiting Sonoma county for wine tasting would like to visit some of it’s over 370 award-winning wineries, here’s the Sonoma wineries website for you to preview some of your favorites or maybe new discoveries in the country. There is so much to enjoy in Sonoma county outside of visiting the wonderful wineries here.

I hope you enjoyed some of these suggestions and if you did please share them with any of the social media buttons below and please like my post, thank you.




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16 Responses to 10 things to do in Sonoma without tasting the wines

  1. Trevor December 2, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    Thanks’ for sharing this, I’ve been looking for somewhere to stopover on a fly/drive road trip type vacation, planned for June 2015 and this looks a great place to visit.

  2. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} July 12, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    This list is just what I needed. I can only handle about half a glass of wine, so I was looking for some non-vino activities.

  3. Poppy October 11, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Hi Noel,

    What beautiful and serene surroundings, from the landscape to the architecture and the bay, it is all quite quaint and romantic! It seems like a rich geographical area, lush and green, aside from the obvious vineyards. You always fortify us with excellent and useful information to accompany your keen photographer’s eye! Gorgeous images, Noel, thanks so much for sharing!


  4. Cathy Sweeney October 10, 2013 at 7:05 am #

    I do love Sonoma wines, but you’re right — there’s much more to Sonoma than wine tasting. I’ve enjoyed all of the things you mentioned — great suggestions. Just ot add a couple of other things — Santa Rosa is a city with a lot going on, including the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Luther Burbank Gardens.

    • Noel October 10, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      those are two wonderful suggestions Cathy, I’ve been to the Luther Burbank gardens many times and the farm and it’s a fantastic place to learn about some of his amazing agricultural and flower introductions.

  5. Safari254 October 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    I love the amazing photography, I should visit your site more often.

  6. Sand In My Suitcase October 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Great ideas, but you can’t go to Sonoma and not go wine touring! That would be a real shame. Healdsburg is a charming little town – some great restos there… We wrote about Sonoma recently in our travel article “California Dreaming” – published in World Traveler magazine: http://www.sandinmysuitcase.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/California-Dreaming-World-Traveler-Winter-2013.pdf

  7. InsideJourneys October 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    Great post, Noel. I always equate Sonoma with wines so it’s good to see that there are other things to see/do there.
    Thanks for linking up!

  8. A October 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    As someone who doesn’t drink this is a nice list to have. I love the coast around there especially. Thanks for all the info, there were a few I didn’t know about!

  9. Indrani October 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    So much to see and do!
    Great shots from the place, a virtual treat!

  10. Harsha October 4, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    Lovely they are…And The mentioned 10 things seems to be interesting..:D

  11. Lea October 4, 2013 at 2:47 am #

    I may not ever get there, but I sure do enjoy seeing your photos!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  12. Mary Calculated Traveller October 4, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    Glad to see a post for the non-drinkers! Love the Church and Trade Center photo!

  13. Marilyn Armstrong October 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    We “did” the Napa Valley. We were still drinking then. Wineries were fun, but best was horseback trail-riding through the valley. They make a lot of westerns in that part of the country. It was “Ride the High Country” for us. California is amazing. Like three countries at least.


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