3-Day Itinerary in Sonoma: Wine & Cheese Adventure

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Advisor - Carol Johnston
Curated By

Carol Johnston

  • California

  • Food & Wine

  • USA

  • San Francisco

  • Vineyard

  • Foodie

  • Hiking

paved road through mountain region during sunset
Curator’s statement

Sonoma County is one of my favorite wine regions. A bit more low key than Napa, it still offers fabulous food and wine options. We usually fly into San Francisco, rent a car, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and make our way to Sonoma. Assuming a later day arrival, the first evening can be spent at your hotel — where you can relax and enjoy a glass of wine or tasting. If you arrive early enough, take advantage of a relaxing spa treatment. This itinerary is for a 3-day, 4-night stay.

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Day 1: Arrival at SFO

golden gate bridge on a sunny day

Rent a car to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy the beautiful scenery as you enter Marin County. Depending upon your timing, you might want to stop in Sausalito.

Another good option is to head straight to the Mission Inn and Spa and take full advantage of a spa treatment.

Then, you can join in on a lobby wine tasting - often curated by a local winery or sommelier.

Dinner at Santé (at the hotel) is recommended for French cuisine with a California farm-fresh flair.

Day 2: Drive to Marin County

oysters, flowers and a canned drink on a wooden table

Leaving Sonoma after breakfast, make your first stop at the Marin French Cheese Co. There, you can sample some cheeses and make some purchases for a picnic later in the day.

If you are traveling on a weekday, continue the cheese adventure at the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company. They typically have 8-10 cheeses available to taste, along with locally produced jams or chutneys.

Continue back to Highway 1, where you can get breathtaking views and stop for oysters. A favorite outdoor spot for a sunny day is Hog Island Oysters.

Upon returning to Sonoma, one more cheese shop awaits you — The Vella Cheese Company. This is a great place to find your favorites, and have them shipped back to your home. Dinner at the girl and the fig.

Day 3: Wine Tasting

red grapes from a vine with sun peaking through

Although we have a car, I always opt for a driver for a private or semi-private tour of 2-3 wineries, preferring to have sit-down tastings to linger over the wine and take in the views.

Favorite vineyards include Ferrari-Carano (gorgeous gardens and sophisticated villa seating), Ram’s Gate (peaceful countryside with views of vineyards), and Mill Creek (relax on a patio with views of the pond).

Dinner at Folktable for delicious farm to fork meals in a casual setting.

Day 4: Morning hike before traveling home

green hiking trail with perfect blue sky

After a couple of days of great food and wine, a hike puts one into the frame of mind to be ready for the travel home.

Sonoma offers many hillsides with breathtaking scenery. One of my favorite hikes is a perfect length for a pre-breakfast walk, and when the weather is good, offers a glimpse of the tops of buildings in San Francisco.

The Sonoma Overlook Trail is an easy 2.5 mile out and back trail.

Then, a late breakfast at the Inn before packing the bags and heading back to the airport.

Need to Know

Advisor - Carol Johnston

Travel Advisor

Carol Johnston

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to California.