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Your Ultimate Summer Guide: 17 Unique Things to Do in Sonoma County 

Updated: April 2024

There’s no denying it. Sonoma County is a spectacular place to live and visit. From its sprawling natural beauty to the local vibrancy of its communities, there’s so much to see and do.

This is especially true come summer when the beaches beckon and the mountains call. It’s the perfect time to explore the beauty of Sonoma County and its surrounding areas.

But whether you’re a local wanting to play tourist in your own town or you’re visiting the region on holiday, we’ve compiled a list of all the fun and unique things to do in Sonoma County to make the most of your summer.

17 Uniquely Sonoma County Destinations and Things to Do

Whether you prefer being outside, exploring cultural attractions, or going to an event, there’s plenty for you to add to your summer calendar this year. These Sonoma County destinations are unique to the region and offer memorable experiences for all ages. 

5 Fun Outdoor Things To Do in Sonoma County

Make the most of your summertime and enjoy the region’s great natural beauty! Some of the best things to do in Sonoma County include exploring the many beaches, forests, rivers, parks, and other natural wonders. 

Here are some ideas to add to your summer calendar:

1. Visit Sonoma County Regional Parks

Russian River Valley, Sonoma County

Free, beautiful, and full of activities and adventures—what’s not to love about Sonoma County’s many regional and state parks? They’re the perfect place to spend a summer day with friends and loved ones, whether you just want to relax or enjoy an activity like kayaking or hiking. 

Our guide to Sonoma County Regional Parks covers many great options to check out, but here are some highlights: 

  • Russian River Valley: A popular spot for all ages with lots of activity options like kayaking, tubing, or swimming. 
  • Spring Lake Regional Park: Located in Santa Rosa, this popular park has a swimming area, water park, paved trails, and kayaks for rent. 
  • Doran Regional Park: This coastal beach is popular for camping, picnicking, surfing, and beachcombing. 

There are also popular state parks to visit, like:

  • Jack London State Historic Park: This is the site of Jack London’s former home and ranch, located in Glen Ellen. Visitors can explore the park by bike, foot, or horse—or choose to bird watch, paint, or picnic.
  • Fort Ross State Historic Park: One of the most popular attractions in the area, this landmark has a reconstructed Russian fort compound. In addition to the fort, visitors can explore the surrounding beaches and coves that look out onto the Pacific Ocean, as well as the nearby redwood forests.

2. Stay Active

Spring Lake Regional ParkBetween the regional and state parks and other outdoor spaces in Sonoma County, there are lots of ways to stay active during the summer months. 

We compiled a guide to the best outdoor spaces to exercise in, featuring many of the regional parks profiled above. If you enjoy hiking, check out our guide to nine awesome Sonoma County hikes, and if biking is your thing, we’ve compiled the 16 best cycling routes for all skill levels!

3. Go Camping

A couple and their dog sitting outside a trailerEnjoy the great outdoors for an extended time during a camping trip this summer. Our Sonoma County camping guide highlights some of the best places to go, and essential tips and tricks to make the most of your trip. Here are some highlights: 

  • Plan ahead, as campsites require reservations and many fill up quickly. 
  • Arrive before sundown so it’s easy to set your campsite up.
  • Use your campground as a base for outdoor activities and adventures, like hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and more. 
  • Prioritize fire safety and leave no trace. 

You can also visit a totally unique outdoor stay experience at Safari West, which offers memorable glamping experiences and the opportunity to reserve all kinds of African wildlife like antelope and giraffes. 

If you want an indoor staycation, check out some of Sonoma County’s unique local hotels for a memorable getaway.  

4. See the Redwoods

Armstrong Redwoods Statue Natural Reserve

Sonoma County is world famous for our stunning Redwood forests. Experience them for yourself at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, a beautiful hiking destination with various trails for any skill level. 

Located just three miles north of Guerneville, the Armstrong Redwoods preserves magnificent Sequoia sempervirens trees, more commonly referred to as the coast redwood.

5. Have a Beach Day

Bodega Bay, Sonoma County

From forest to beaches—that’s the Sonoma Way! Another great summertime activity in Sonoma County is spending time at one of many beaches, along both the coast and rivers. Here are some recommendations: 

  • Bodega Bay: This town is known as the “gateway to the Sonoma coast” and offers spectacular ocean views and plenty of outdoor activities. Spend the day at the beaches or hiking nearby trails, and then dine on fresh seafood at one of the local eateries.
  • Sonoma Coast State Park: Spanning about 17 miles of coastline between Bodega Head and Vistal Trailis, this area is a spectacular sight to see. The park is located just a few miles north of Jenner and is made up of several beaches, headlands, and breathtaking rocky bluffs. Head here for fishing, sunbathing, or a picnic on the beach!
  • Petaluma River: This scenic body of water is located in the city of Petaluma. You can hit the river in a recreational boat, kayak, row boat, or paddleboard and relax as you enjoy the surrounding scenery. If you’re into bird watching, you can also explore the nearby Petaluma Wetlands, home to over 200 species of birds.
  • Point Reyes: A scenic coastal destination with beaches and hiking trails, Point Reyes stretches over approximately 80 miles of shoreline. Visitors to the Seashore can explore the sandy shores, grasslands, and forested ridges, while keeping an eye out for the more than 1,500 types of plants and animals that call Point Reyes home.

7 Unique Sonoma County Destinations and Attractions

When you’ve had your fill of outdoor things to do in Sonoma County, explore the many unique towns and their attractions. You’ll also find plenty of places to eat, drink, and shop throughout the region.

Here are some ideas to fill your summer with: 

1. Explore the Town Centers 

With more than 30 cities, there’s no shortage of interesting places to explore. Town centers often boast quaint architecture, great local shops, and plenty of places to eat and drink. Here are two must-visit places: 

  • Sonoma Plaza: A quaint, historic town square that offers everything from shopping to casual and fine dining experiences. With boutique shops, art galleries, and wine-tasting rooms, this is an excellent destination for those who are looking for a more cultural experience.
  • Healdsburg Plaza: Another opportunity to partake in some local shopping and small-town charm. This delightful town square offers a variety of boutique stores and wine-tasting rooms, which would make for a perfect weekend getaway.

2. Hit the Wineries

Sonoma County is famous for its wine, so hitting some local wineries or going wine tasting is a must-do when in the region. 

One unique winery experience is the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, which boasts more than just great wine. Located in Geyserville, the winery has a swimming pool, a bocce ball court, and movie memorabilia.

You can also check out the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley, which is a fun way to tour the local winery scene. They offer daily tours and private charters via replicas of California streetcars! Itineraries are designed by their team of in-house experts, so you can simply sit back and enjoy.

There are plenty of great wineries in the region, many within just a short drive from SOMO Village. Some of our favorites include:

If you’re new to wine, check out our interview with a local winemaker who shares some tips for an unforgettable wine-tasting experience

3. Shop Local

SoCo Market sign with balloons

There are tons of excellent local shops and brands in Sonoma County, many of which you’ll find in the downtown areas of each town. 

For a truly unique shopping experience, check out the SoCo Market. Founder Mercedes Hernandez brings together a curated group of local makers, artists, and vendors so you can find a one-of-a-kind item.  

4. Explore the Gardens

Luther Burbank gardens

Open to the public every day from 8:00 am to dusk, the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens is a botanical oasis located in Santa Rosa. Once the former home and gardens of horticulturist Luther Burbank, visitors can tour the museum, as well as a variety of different gardens.

5. Go to a Brewery

Beer glass on a counter at Old Caz Brewery

Even though Sonoma County is known for its wine, the craft beer scene is equally impressive. Some of the best breweries in Sonoma County include: 

6. Visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum

If you’re in search of a more educational and fun outing for the entire family, try heading to the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Located in Santa Rosa, this museum is dedicated to the creator of the beloved cartoon Peanuts, and offers tours, camps, classes, and theater showings.

7. Take the Train 

Open year-round, but certainly more enjoyable during the sunny summer months, the Sonoma TrainTown Railroad has been around since the 1950s. Visit the park and take a quarter-scale railroad through tunnels, over bridges, and into the miniature town of Lakeview. The park also offers a petting zoo, a horse carousel, a ferris wheel, and other amusement rides.

5 Top Sonoma County Summer Events and Activities

People on a ride at the sonoma county fairSome things to do in Sonoma County only come around once a year! Here are some annual events and activities to add to your summer calendar: 

1. Sonoma County Fair

Hosted from August 1-11, 2024, this annual event is a must-attend! Fill up on your favorite fair foods, check out live entertainment, visit the animals, and have an all-around great time!

2. Cotati Accordion Festival

Hosted from August 16-18, 2024, this festival is a fun and festive time to hear live accordion music and enjoy a good time. 

3. Transcendence Theatre

Hosted throughout the entire summer, this is the perfect way to experience live theater under the stars! The 2024 season features favorites like Summertime! and Don’t Stop Us Now. 

4. Summer Nights On The Green

Hosted on Thursday nights from May 30-August 29, 2024, the town of Windsor comes alive with special public events filled with music, performances, and fun for all. 

5. Country Summer Music Festival 

Hosted between June 14-15, 2024, this iconic music festival is one of the top things to do in Sonoma County this summer. Featuring headliners Old Dominion and Little Big Town, you’ll have an experience to remember!

There you have it—all the amazing things to do in Sonoma County this summer. What are you adding to your summer calendar? These Sonoma County destinations are sure to make summer 2024 a memorable one. 

Learn More About SOMO Village

If you’re interested in living in a sustainable community that fuses the best of city living with the country lifestyle and all the amazing things that Sonoma County has to offer, we invited you to visit SOMO Village. To learn more, download our residential project brief or get in touch with us today.

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