Sommelier Jessica Altieri Shares the Insider Sips to Sonoma
Get ready to discover all the exciting tourist attractions the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country in Northern California has to offer you… and they’re totally free.. yes FREE!
1. Drive Down America’s Most Beautiful Road
California’s state route, called Highway 1, drives past one of the world’s longest and most beautiful coastlines. The cool waters of the Pacific ripple like diamonds under the golden sun. The refreshing breeze dances through the trees. All around you, you see clear, blue sky—calm, serene, and beautiful.
No wonder it’s called the “All American Road.” Take a long drive, or stop at one of the many golden beaches for hours of sun, sea and surf. Get a tan, dive into the water, or settle with a book under the shade. Truly, some of the best things in life are free.
2. Go on a Pt Reyes Hiking Adventure
Over 140 miles of trails, yours for the exploring for the mere price of…your time. You’ll get a free map, where you can follow any of the many biking or hiking trails through one of America’s most famous wilderness reserves. Some of the trees in this area are thousands of years old, and their leaves and branches form a cool natural canopy.
It’s a great way of getting in touch with nature, or even yourself. We’re so used to the hustle and bustle of daily life, that we’ve forgotten how to be still, and listen to our own thoughts.
This marvelous hiking adventure can take you through different terrains of pasture lands, forests and meadowlands—and right into the center of your soul.
3. Run Free at Armstrong Woods
Most of us are cooped up in small office cubicles or condos for most of our days. At Armstrong Woods, you can run free—in over 805 meters of ancient tree groves, nature trails, and numerous picnic facilities. You’ll find the oldest and tallest redwoods in the country, some towering to over 300 feet, and nearly 1,500 years old.
Bond with your family. Play with your kids, chat with your husband (when was the last time you really talked?) or take a long walk alone to meditate in the stillness of the woods. In ancient times, knights and other adventure seekers would go on a retreat before embarking on an important quest. Take this time out and center yourself—and let tomorrow be the beginning of the rest of your life.
4. Go Animal Watching at Bodega Bay
Bodega Bay is Sonoma County’s most popular spot for bird watching. People have spotted some very rare birds here, and more times than in any other area in the county. It’s a favorite destination for members of the Audubon Society—and many of them cite Owl Canyon, Hole in the Head, and the bushes near Diekmann’s Store as their favorite “places of vigil.”
The waters of Bodega Bay are also homes to a thriving community of whales and seals. With just a boat, and a good pair of binoculars, people can see these beautiful animals frolicking in their natural habitat. Better than a zoo, and as close to being in a National Geographic video as you can get—and it’s all for free.
5. Discover Interesting New Art
Maybe it’s the beautiful view, or the convergence of different cultures. California has a bustling art scene, thanks to young and talented individuals. Their visions and expressions are not only beautiful, but inspire everyone to get in touch with their own creative side.
Take an “art trip” at the Arts Council of Sonoma Country Gallery, conveniently located at Santa Rosa’s Downtown Area (right on 529 Fifth Street). It’s open on Wednesday to Friday from 12 - 5 pm, and Saturdays from 12 - 4 pm. For more information, call 707-579-ARTS or visit http://www.artrails.org
6. Rediscover Rustic Americana
Tired of the urban rush? Dreaming of a quieter, simpler life? Be a farmer for one day with the free Farm Trails map. It’ll take you through the abundant fields of Sonoma Country. Go berry picking, feed the sheep and llamas, chase after butterflies, and buy freshly picked fruit straight from the farmer.
You can also visit wineries, breweries and cheese factories. Don’t think of it as an extended grocery trip—it’s a chance to enjoy rustic Americana and (for at least a few hours) know how it feels like to retire to the countryside.