Sonoma, CA made headlines recently for taking the number one spot as TripAdvisor’s top wine destination in the United States- but put your adventure face on and experience this small town for yourself, there’s more than just wine to taste here. Imagine you have only an afternoon to spend in a place, and you want to see as much as possible. You might be a little overwhelmed at all the top ranked things to see and do (and drink!) while you’re here. Take a step into the Plaza, home to Sonoma’s heart and soul, City Hall, and the visitor’s center, and experience just a few things that will help you understand what Sonoma’s all about.
Check out this video and then see the top 5 after the jump!
Mission San Francisco de Solano
The California Mission Trail comes to it’s northernmost end in Sonoma, which is host to the last California mission, located in a beautiful city corner off of the Plaza. The mission helps blend historical and current events, creating a unique climate of appreciation around the town’s center. Founded by General Mariano Vallejo, the original purpose was to fight off impending Russian forces as well as cultivating a friendly relationship with the Native Americans in the region. This location is an invaluable stop along California’s history, and kid friendly with a large outdoor space (just watch out for the many cacti plants!)
Sonoma Cheese Factory
After exploring the mission you’ll surely be hungry (or at least I was…) so pop into the Sonoma Cheese Factory, just down the street from where you left. Make your way down the line of complimentary cheese tastings, which includes garlic, habanero, and many other rich flavors. When you’ve tried everything, don’t forget the eggnog fudge, sure to make you cry tears of joy and intensify your hunger to the point when you just have to get one of their hot or cold sandwich offerings. Finish up with the gelato and espresso bar, and pick up some goofy cheese related souvenirs in the gift shop. Take some cheese to go, and save it for later (wine is in your future! Wine and cheese, duh…)
Tiddle E. Winks
Walk off some of that delicious cheese and head to the other side of the plaza, where you’ll find Tiddle E. Winks, Sonoma’s Vintage 5 & Dime. Colorful candy and sweets practically spill out the front door, and inside you can find every vintage item you could ever hope for- trinkets, gifts, notebooks, glasses, 50’s records, etc. You’ll love the sweet smell of this tiny shop, and make sure to get a good look at the checkout station- it’s actually an old diner bar complete with bar stools.
Baksheesh Fair Trade
Keep walking and you’ll eventually reach Africa. Okay not really, you can’t walk to Africa, but you can head to the next best thing in Sonoma! Baksheesh Fair Trade is on a mission to grow free trade as much as possible, and to support small artists by selling their goods in Sonoma. Hosting products from all over the world, including the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, they help families around the world make a living with dignity and healthy business practices. Baksheesh is a Persian word that means ‘gift’, so while you’re here pick up a sculpture, necklace, or handmade trinket to share with someone you love.
I can practically hear you saying, “Where’s the wine on this tour?!” so here you go! With over 100 wineries in Sonoma, it’s virtually impossible to try them all. So head down the road to Cline Cellars, where you will not only sample some fantastic wine, but also enjoy being at the site of the original Sonoma mission. Mike Alberigi graciously informed us of so many facts regarding Cline cellars, including that it sits on consecrated land, used to be home to Miwok Indians, and is currently home to miniaturized handmade models of all 21 California Missions. Cline is a place where you can “walk the entire mission trail under one roof,” and experience the miniature versions originally constructed for display at the 1939 World Fair. While you enjoy the mini-missions, try the Oakley 82, a crisp refreshing white, and also sample some of their Cashmere red, which to date has helped raise $250,000 for breast cancer research.