[Travel Advice] Sonoma

Random Observation/Comment #616: Don’t forget to schedule date nights. Don’t forget to schedule travel without the baby.

It wasn’t a lot of time, but a long weekend is what I used to take for bear trips. This one was a lot of fun and much needed time with the wife (and without the toddler). Many thanks to my parents for taking babysitting duty for 3 days.

Things Sonoma does well

  • Wine tastings – You don’t have to do much research to find some delicious suggestions on where to taste quality wine. I love how every vineyard mostly showcases their special bottles you can only buy at the vineyard.
  • Weather – So much sunshine and perfect spring. We got lucky to just miss the rain.
  • Scenic drives – It’s an hour drive away from Sonoma downtown, but the drive along the coast in route 1 is breath taking. It probably would be terrible with a lot of traffic and generally dangerous. Remember to bring a coat because it gets windy on the coast.
  • Extremely knowledgeable guides – I try not to ask dumb questions. Sometimes any question will lead to a wonderful tangent of random trivia.

Things Sonoma Could Improve

  • Shuttling between tastings – Wine tasting is a fancy bar crawl where the bars are fairly far away from each other. If you’re staying downtown, you might be able to Uber/Lyft your way around between vineyards. We wound up hiring a driver for $45/hour. He drove my rental car.

Our itinerary

Thursday – Arrived at night
Late night dinner by Valencia St at Mosto – Powered through the jetlag with alcohol and tacos.

Friday – Redwood, Driving and Dinner Day!
Car rental pickup – Doing a pickup near the hotel rather than getting the car at the airpot and finding overnight parking was a good idea.
Stop for breakfast in San Rafael at Theresa & Johnny’s Comfort Food – Much suggested as they have lots of hot sauce choices and it’s the perfect mid-way point to the park. Home made corned beef and hash!

homemade corned beef hash benedict

Armstrong National Park – Leisure 1 hour drive from breakfast. They have a yellow-marked trail with lots of family and strollers which we sauntered around for an hour. If you have hiking shoes, there are tons of trails further into the park.

Korbel tasting – Can’t beat a free tasting. They have a delicious deli with toasted sandwiches and wine by the glass.

Drive along route 1 – This was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done (and also a little scary). I’d suggest taking your time and stopping at a few areas to take some photos of the beautiful coast.

Check-in at Kenwood Inn and Spa – Loved staying here. We splurged a bit, but bought it with our credit card points, so it was all manageable in costs. The garden room had a great little fireplace and CD player. Remember to drop by 5-6PMs for wine tasting and cheese plate.

Dinner at Farmhouse Inn – Got to love a place with a seasonal menu. We were able to do the 3-course meals, but choose 2 appetizers for one of them. This gave us 3 appetizers, 2 main courses, and a dessert, which was just the right amount of food and balance of savory and sweet. The peas and carrot cake was not what I expected, but a pleasant surprise. We wound up doing wine by the glass than the full wine pairing, which worked out well when asking for wine suggestions.

Saturday – Wine Tasting Day!
This was last minute, but we wound up using a designated driver service suggested by the front desk. It was well worth the $45/hour to just relax and have someone drive us around. I’m sure you could have done Ubered between places if you’re staying close-by, but we had a great time.

Ravenswood tasting tour with Murray – Murray is an amazing wine guide of random facts and great portrait photographer. He really brought some incredible wines for tasting and shared some fun stories.

Gunbun lunch – By the time we got to Gunbun, we were already pretty buzzed, so we relaxed with a cheese plate and split a hearty sandwich. We couldn’t have lucked out more with the weather. Outdoor seating is limited, so definitely make a reservation.

Wandering downtown for ice cream – We thought about going to another winery for a tasting, but realized we needed a break. After being dropped off downtown by the plaza, we walked around and found places to wander. We did go to Pangloss Cellars, but by this time, we had really lost our palette.

Much needed mid-day nap. Got back to the hotel by 4:30PM and really just needed to recover a little bit.

Salt and Stone for dinner – We hung out at the bar and split a few meals. We kept it clean, but everything was so good. I highly suggest the french onion soup.

Sunday – Commute home – Took around 1.5 hours to drive from Sonoma area to the airport.
Lunch at the airport – Better to get there early than later
Listen to a podcasts together – We were both pretty exhausted, so we just listened to a few podcasts and slept on the plane.

~See Lemons Love Sonoma