10. Driving Trinity Road in a Sports Car
There is a special road that takes one from Sonoma Valley, over the Mayacamas Range and drops you into Oakville. Trinity Road is a curvy up and down experience that only driving aficionados can truly appreciate. Trinity road winds its way through oak groves, redwood tree groves, around hairpin turns, past mountain vineyards and finally down a steep slope into Napa Valley. It was once named one of the best driving roads by Car & Driver Magazine. The trek is best taken in a small sport car, top down around 6:30 in the morning in the summer.
9. Sonoma Plaza
It's been the heart of the town for more than 100 years. Today, the plaza is a tree-filled oasis of soft grass, playgrounds, paths, duck ponds and shade that make it the perfect place to hang for a couple of hours with a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch. Surrounding the plaza on four sides are shops and restaurants. Sonoma was not always a tourist stop. Though much of the commerce that goes on there today is tourism related you can still find the old mens clothing shop, the banks, a grand old theatre and more that has served locals for years. But in addition, it's filled with eclectic shops, great restaurants and a numerous places to sit outside and watch people stroll by. The Sonoma Wine Exchange is a must stop. It has a great collection of local wines, many very hard to find gems.
8. Glen Ellen
Jack London made Glen Ellen his home and today his former ranch is a State Historical Park. There was a time when this tiny town boasted 8 different bars and saloons. Before that it was a resort spot where San Francsicans would come for the summer to enjoy the two creeks that come together here, to hike, to fish and to drink. Today, most people like to describe Glen Ellen as "quaint and funky". And it is. Downtown, such as it is, holds a funky bar, a great upscale market, a number of B&Bs, a auto repair shop, 4 restaurants, a bank, real estate offices and that's about it. It's off the main highway and a great place to spend an afternoon strolling before getting a bite to eat.
7. Sonoma Valley as Base Camp
If you want to plan a trip to "Wine Country" Sonoma Valley is perfect. If the Valley and nearby Carneros won't satisfy your wine tasting desires, Napa Valley is 20 minutes away, Russian River Valley is a half hour away, Dry Creek about 40 minutes away, Alexander Valley 40 minutes away and San Francisco is only 45 minutes away. The Valley is a perfect place to base yourself if you are looking for a Wine Country vacation.
Sonoma Valley is one of those areas where you can still see and even feel the history as you familiarize yourself with the region. We still have the Mission Sonoma. Remnants and memorials to the "uprising" that was called the Bear Flag Revolt and that led to California independence is still on view. The east side of Sonoma is filled with older homes, some 100 years old others built in the 20s and 30s and 40s that are stunning pieces of architecture. Stone walls seen throughout the valley look back on a day when property lines were not made up of wire fencing. Old wineries and ghost wineries still stand.
5. Back Roads
Sonoma Valley is filed with amazing backroads that take you up steep hills, into the hinterland where cows and horses graze. Warm Springs Road, Bennett Valley Road, Cavedale Road, Dunbar Road, Henno Road, Nun's Canyon Road, Adobe Creek Road, Lawndale Road. As you drive these little two lane, tree-line beauts you come around corners to find ancient vineyards, old farm houses, redwood groves, open fields. It's invigorating. A day could be taken just driving slowing, off the beaten path.
4. The Wineries
The combination and diversity of wineries in Sonoma Valley is impressive. We have a few big boys as well as a number of small boutique efforts. It really is impossible to go after them all even in a three day trip. However, there's nothing wrong with giving that a try.
3. Extraordinaire Cuisine at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
At the resort itself, you have several excellent options to choose from. The Big 3 is located on the north corner of the Inn's grounds and has been pleasing customers for over 50 years with its casual bistro atmosphere, hearty country breakfasts and eclectic American cuisine.
Santé Restaurant is the Inn's premier dining room and has earned a national reputation for its outstanding food. Recipient of the prestigious AAA Four Diamond award, Santé is the only restaurant in the Sonoma Valley to receive this accolade. Condé Nast Traveler said 'it's worth a special trip just to eat here' and Gourmet Magazine calls the food 'the best of the new Wine Country style.' Only the freshest local produce, meats, poultry and seafood are used to create elegantly simple dishes that let the natural flavors of the food speak for themselves.A wine list, honored with Wine Spectator's 2007 'Award of Excellence' features over 500 Sonoma and Napa wines.
Come and relax poolside, next to the historical landmark of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn's Water Tower. Enjoy our freshly prepared Sandwiches and Salads along with one of our refreshing cocktails or fruit smoothies. A great place to dine in the Californian sun.
2. Golfing at the prestigious Sonoma Golf Club
Designed under the auspices of Sonoma Mission Inn in 1928 by Sam Whiting, architect of San Francisco's prestigious Olympic Club Lake Course, the historic golf course was sold during the Great Depression. It was reunited with the resort in the fall of 1998, and privatized in September 2001.
Playing just over 7,100 yards from the championship tees, this classic layout offers strategic choices and challenges that excite golfers swinging graphite and titanium just as it did when they were carrying hickory and persimmon. In fact, the Club has been selected as the home of the PGA Champions Tour season ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
At its heart, is a treasured 'core golf' experience set on 177 acres of rolling terrain highlighted by massive oaks, lakes and sweeping vistas of the Maya camas Mountains and neighboring vineyards. You're sure to appreciate how the balance and blend of long and short holes creates a perfect rhythm as you move through the round. Considered a fair but formidable test, unique challenges help keep you focused on the task at hand. Golf at Sonoma Golf Club is reserved exclusively for Sonoma Golf Club Members and guests of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.
1. The Spa at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
For hundreds of years, ancient thermal mineral waters have graced this site. First revered by Native American and early settlers as a bathing ground, the springs gained popularity among San Franciscans in the 1840s, when a bathhouse emerged to shelter the restorative waters. Generations of travelers have visited this site through the years to 'take the waters' and witness its transfer-mation from a rustic bathhouse to a new elegant Spanish-Mission style Inn in 1927.
Today, The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is proud to be one of the only luxury spa resorts in the country with our own source of thermal mineral water, which flows from 1,100 feet directly beneath the Inn at 135 degrees.
Our Spa pays homage to ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations, who believed in the axiom, 'Sanitas Per Aquas', or healing through water.