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The Best Things to Do In Sonoma besides Drinking Wine


Just because you’re making a trip to wine country doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time in tasting rooms. Aside from its award-winning wineries, Sonoma County boasts enough diversions to keep the sybarite, chef, explorer, and athlete inside you busy for days.

Consider spending your next vacation breaking in your hiking shoes, taking a scenic drive to a lighthouse, and learning to shuck oysters and smoke local salmon—all while still drinking plenty of wine. Here at 10 things to do in Sonoma County when you’re not sipping some of the country’s finest varietals.

Kayak with Getaway Adventures

Randy Johnson and his team at Getaway Adventures navigate the county’s prettiest waterways in a fleet of yellow kayaks. He offers two-person or small group excursions down the Russian River and along its coastal mouth in Jenner, where the local seal population frolic and nap near Goat’s Rock Beach. Sun seekers should opt to ply a river stretch; the coast, especially during summer, is enveloped in fog much of the day. Bring sturdy water shoes and expect to get splashed. Getaway also offers biking adventures through the vineyards.


Lauren Mowery/Fodor’s

 Cook with Relish Culinary Adventures

Donna Del Rey set out to utilize Sonoma’s long growing seasons and abundant bounty to instruct clients how to shop for and cook easy, flavorful food. At Relish Culinary Adventures, private cooking parties start at $1300; likeminded friends should coordinate to share the cost. On a recent excursion, Donna brought students to Dry Creek Peach Farm (supplier to Chez Panisse, A16) and local Italian olive oil producer DaVero, before returning to her culinary center in Healdsburg to applewood smoke salmon, quick pickle shallots, and grill peaches picked that morning. For cheaper access to her wisdom, check her online calendar for classes on topics like canning and mozzarella making.


Lauren Mowery/Fodor’s

Zip-Line through Coastal Redwoods

Gain a flying squirrel’s eye view of the towering redwoods in this 7-line course near Occidental, run by Sonoma Canopy Tours. The only outfit in the region, you’ll fly at heights of nearly 200 feet above ground, streak between trees up to 35 miles per hour, and traverse its longest line at approximately 850 feet, although expect a “much, much longer” line to be added next spring. Video cams for helmets can be rented to log your flight. Children over 11 and 70 lbs are welcome.


Emily Blake/Fodor’s

Patio Hop around Healdsburg

This happening town heats up in the afternoon, both literally and figuratively: morning fog burns off and the locals flock to outside venues for cocktails and small bites. Start your bar hop with a seasonal margarita or perennially good La Paloma at upscale Mexican restaurant Mateo’s. Head over to Campo Fina for a game of bocce and brick oven salsiccia pizza, followed by tapas and sherry on the back patio of Bravas Bar. The old Cyrus space is now Chalkboard and the former pool of the Hotel Les Mars has been filled in for an outdoor lounge. Snag a table or couch and nosh on pork belly biscuits with a glass of Sonoma Chenin Blanc.


Lauren Mowery/Fodor’s

Hike Armstrong Redwoods Reserve

The beauty of Armstrong Redwoods Reserves that visitors can dip in for as much or little natural rejuvenation as they like. The park has short, flat loops that meander through the towering trees that moms pushing strollers can enjoy. The ambitious can tackle uphill ridges or hike three miles to camp sites on the adjacent Austin Creek State Recreation Area (although drive-in camping is also available). For an afternoon repast, families gather at picnic tables and grills scattered beneath the quiet forest canopy.


Lauren Mowery/Fodor’s

By: Fodor’s

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