If you’re looking for things to do in Sonoma without drinking, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many options beyond just wine tastings. As a local, I’ve discovered a wide variety of activities and experiences that allow visitors to fully enjoy the area without indulging in alcohol.
From exploring historical sites to outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here in Sonoma. In this guide, I’ll be sharing my personal list of hidden gems that offer a unique and authentic experience of the Sonoma Valley. Here’s a list of some of my favorite things to do in Sonoma that don’t involve drinking:
- Have Your Portrait Taken by Jason Guy
- Explore the historic Sonoma Plaza
- Dine on the plaza
- Favorite restaurants off-the-square
- Wander the art exhibit at Di Rosa
- Visit general Vallejo’s home
- Jack London State Park Guided Tour
- Hot Air Ballooning
- Go cycling in the Sonoma Valley
- Take a cooking class at the Sonoma Valley Culinary Institute
- Go stargazing at the Robert Ferguson Observatory
- Go Horseback Riding in Sonoma Valley
- Shakespeare at Buena Vista Winery
- Visit Train Town
- Valley of The Moon Trap Club
- View vintage aircraft at Sonoma Valley Airport
Have Your Portrait Taken By Jason Guy: A Shameless Plug By Your Local Guide
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I want to capture your best self and make lasting memories. To achieve this, I employ my secret weapon: my ability to pose and direct my clients in a way that looks effortless and natural, yet still elegant. I am passionate about making every photoshoot an enjoyable and comfortable experience for my clients.
With my guidance, I’ll help you feel confident and at ease in front of the camera. Together, we’ll create the best photos you’ve ever seen of yourself. From finding the perfect location to putting together the perfect outfit, I will work with you to make sure every photo we take together is the best it can be.
Explore The Sonoma Plaza
Explore the historic Sonoma Plaza and discover the rich history of the area with a visit to the Sonoma Barracks and Sonoma Mission. You can also rent bikes from the square to visit more historical landmarks a short ride from the plaza (more on this later).
Aside from the delicious restaurants, the square also boasts an array of shops and art galleries that are worth checking out.
One shop that I personally like is Eraldi’s. They carry quality brands for middle-aged dressy casual style men .
My wife, on the other hand, loves to check out the shoes at Sole Desire. They have a wide range of dressy, yet comfortable options for women.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a unique shopping experience, be sure to check out The Church Mouse, our favorite thrift store in the area.
If you have little kids they are sure to enjoy one of the two parks on the square. One tailored for little ones and the other for older kids. Even if you don’t have kids, you’re likely to stumble upon and enjoy live performances and other events happening throughout the summer. The square is a pretty lively place, especially in the summer.
You can check out the plaza’s event page here to see what’s coming up. In any case if you plan to visit May-September, be sure not to miss the rather exceptional farmer’s market on Tuesday evenings! It’s always a crowded event.
With so much to see and do, you’ll definitely want to spend at least a day exploring the plaza and surrounding area.
Best Restaurants On the Plaza
Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with some of my top picks for dining in and around Sonoma Plaza! These are my personal favorites, and I can’t wait to share them with you!
Kick off your day in the most delicious (and nutritious) way possible with a mouth-watering breakfast at Sunflower Cafe. Trust me, every dish on the menu is exceptional, and it’s hands down the best breakfast spot in town. If you’re looking for a lighter option, indulge in the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee paired with a decadent pastry at Basque Boulangerie. Either option will be a fantastic choices to fuel up for the day ahead!
For a fine dining experience, the most popular spot on the plaza is arguably The Girl And The Fig, however, my personal favorite fine dining restaurant in Sonoma is Cafe la Haye. Their steak or seafood dishes are truly culinary masterpieces. For casual dining, Mary’s Pizza and La Casa are both great options, with Mary’s Pizza being known for their delicious thin-crust pizza and La Casa for their authentic Mexican dishes.
Wherever you decide to get your meal from skip the dessert at the restaurant and instead get anything from Harvey’s Doughnuts. My personal favorite is the irresistible maple bacon doughnut, but you truly can’t go wrong with anything you get from Harvey’s. Pair your doughnuts (they’re small and come in a paper cone with a spoon) with coffee from Basque Boulangerie or enjoy as a standalone. The owner Harvey is there often taking orders and is always fun to talk to!
Best Restaurants in Sonoma
If you’re looking for the less touristy hidden gem restaurants that the locals eat at, look beyond the plaza. My personal favorites can be found just a short distance away from the plaza on the other side of town.
Juanita Juanita, a dive bar looking restaurant on the outskirts of Sonoma serves the best Mexican food you’ll ever taste. I’ve never ordered anything I didn’t love from this place and I’ve been here at least 30 times.
Another must-try spot is El Molino Central, which offers a truly unique and authentic Mexican dining experience. Seating is all outdoor, but the food is almost Mexican fusion with something I can’t quite put my finger on. El Molino Central is tied with Juanita’s for my favorite Mexican restaurant I’ve ever tried. Both of these restaurants (not on the plaza) are my absolute favorites in town and you won’t be disappointed with the delicious food and charming atmosphere from either place.
Visit Di Rosa Center For Contemporary Art
Experience the best of Northern California’s contemporary art scene just a short drive outside of Sonoma at the Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. Nestled in the picturesque Carneros region of Napa, this stunning art center features over 2,000 works by Northern California artists, making it a must-see destination for art lovers.
One of the highlights of the visit is the tour of the Di Rosa’s home, which is preserved with many artworks scattered about, giving visitors a visual overload of strange and unique art.
The main art building is massive and has a large collection of interesting paintings. Outside the building is littered with some strange and some really beautiful sculptures. The property itself is also stunning as it’s surrounded by beautiful vineyards and gardens. The Di Rosa museum is the perfect destination for a relaxing day trip in wine country that doesn’t involve punishing your liver.
Hiking – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
Experience the natural beauty of Sonoma with a hike on one of the area’s many trails. For an easy to moderate hike that will get your blood pumping, check out the Sonoma Overlook Trail Sonoma Valley Regional Park, or Bartholomew Estate. The Cemetery at the Sonoma Overlook trail is a detour definitely worth taking if you’re into that kind of thing.
As a local, I regularly walk the Sonoma Valley Regional Park trail around the reservoir, it’s a great way to explore the area. For those who aren’t fit or who have bad knees, there is also a beautiful flat paved trail off the main parking lot on Hwy 12.
Although the Bartholomew Estate is a winery, there’s a short 2-3 mile, moderate intensity trail that goes up into the hills of the property. It’s a pleasant partial day hike on beautiful grounds, that is perfect for a picnic afterwards.
For those who are more athletic, I recommend Mount Hood or Sugarloaf up to Gunsight Rock for a real ass kicker hike. Both of these trails are stunning especially in the spring when the wild flowers are in full bloom.
Annadel is the most popular hiking spot in the area but is also the furthest away from Sonoma. That said, Annadel has trails for all fitness levels, with short paved options near spring lake and long 13+ mile loops up though the mountains.
Visit General Vallejo’s Home – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
Step back in time and explore the historic home of General Vallejo, a key figure in California’s early history. Located just a short bike ride away from the Sonoma Plaza along the scenic Sonoma Bike Path, this beautiful 19th century home offers a glimpse into the past and a chance to learn about Sonoma’s rich history. The home is now a California State Historic Park, and offers tours and events that provide an in-depth look at the history of the home, general Vallejo, and the people who lived here.
Rent a bike from the plaza and take a leisurely ride along the Sonoma Bike Path to General Vallejo’s home. Not only will you get some exercise and fresh air, but you’ll also be able to take in the beautiful scenery along the way. General Vallejo’s home is a must-see destination for history buffs and anyone interested in learning more about Sonoma’s past.
Jack London State Park Tour – Things To Do Near Sonoma Without Drinking
Jack London State Park offers a unique opportunity to explore the beauty of nature and the rich history of the area. The Wolf House (a historic stone mansion built by Jack London) is a must-see attraction that offers a glimpse into the life of the famous author and adventurer.
The park also features a variety of hiking trails that wind through the mountains, providing breathtaking views and the chance to see a diverse array of wildlife.
Guided tours are available to help visitors make the most of their experience, providing insight into the history and ecology of the area. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or simply looking for a peaceful hike, the Jack London ranch is very pretty place to spend the day.
Hot Air Balloon Rides – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
Hot air ballooning is a unique and unforgettable experience that is sure to leave you with memories to last a lifetime. With Sonoma Ballooning, you will have the opportunity to soar above the beautiful Sonoma Valley, taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards, mountains, and countryside.
This company is a professional, safety-conscious team that has been providing hot air balloon rides for over 25 years. The flight will take place in a modern, comfortable, and safe hot air balloon, with a maximum of 12 passengers per flight. The flight duration is approximately 1 hour, weather permitting. The staff is dedicated to providing you with an amazing experience and will make sure you have a great time before, during, and after the flight. Join Sonoma Ballooning for a hot air balloon ride that you will never forget!
Cycling In The Sonoma Valley – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
Embark on a journey of discovery as you explore the picturesque landscape of the Sonoma Valley on two wheels. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or simply looking for a leisurely ride, the Sonoma Bike Path offers the perfect opportunity to take in the natural beauty of Sonoma. Rent a bike and pedal your way to General Vallejo’s home, a historical landmark steeped in local history.
But for those seeking a more challenging adventure, rent a road bike and set off on a thrilling ride through the valley of the moon! This suggested ride takes you through a mix of beautiful roads with minimal busy traffic.
Starting in the charming village of Glen Ellen, the ride begins with a small climb on Warm Springs Road before turning onto Sonoma Mountain Road for the first big challenge of the ride. The road climbs a few hundred feet over a mile and a half with gradients of up to 10%.
The scenery along this road is stunning with views of oak and meadows, vineyards and distant vistas. After a descent on Enterprise Road, the route briefly joins the busy Bennett Valley Road before turning onto the quieter Warm Springs Road.
The ride continues with a mix of climbs and descents on Lawndale, Bristol, and Schultz roads before reaching an optional out-and-back on Adobe Canyon Road. The road leads to Sugarloaf State Park and offers a challenging climb and beautiful descent. The route then returns to Glen Ellen, passing through the peaceful Henno Road and Dunbar Road before ending at Sonoma Valley Regional Park.
The route offers a mix of challenging climbs and scenic views, making it a great destination for experienced cyclists visiting the area.
Take a Cooking Class At The Sonoma Valley Culinary Institute
Indulge your taste buds and elevate your culinary skills with a cooking class at Ramekins Culinary School. Nestled in the heart of Sonoma, this school offers a unique and immersive culinary experience.
From hands-on cookery, to baking and pastry, there’s something for everyone. Elevate your culinary skills and create lasting memories at the Sonoma Valley Culinary Institute.
Your senses will be engulfed in the flavors and techniques of the region with classes taught by experienced chefs. Learn to create delicious dishes using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients. With hands on classes for every palate and skill level, there’s something for everyone with the classes they offer.
Go Stargazing – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
The Robert Ferguston Observatory is a fantastic destination for stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts. The RFO offers “public star parties” where visitors can explore the night sky through telescopes, guided by experienced astronomers.
These public events provide the perfect chance to see celestial objects such as planets, stars, galaxies, and more. Imagine gazing at the beauty of the Milky Way galaxy or the rings of Saturn, all while learning about the wonders of the universe.
These events are open to the public for a small fee and provide a fun and educational experience for people of all ages. Check the RFO’s”calendar of events” tab for the “public star parties” to find when the next one is happening.
Go Horseback Riding – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
Sonoma Valley Trail Rides is a family-owned company that has been providing horseback riding adventures in the heart of Sonoma Valley for over 30 years. Set against the stunning backdrop of rolling hills, lush vineyards, and picturesque countryside, a horseback ride in Sonoma is an unforgettable adventure.
Whether you are an experienced rider or a first-timer, the experienced guides will take you on a journey through the beauty of nature, where you can see wildflowers (in early spring), wildlife and breathtaking views of the valley.
Along the way, you can enjoy a picnic ride, sunset ride or even a full moon ride. The horses are well-trained, gentle and well-cared for, ensuring a safe and comfortable ride for all. With a variety of options for riders of all levels, Sonoma Valley Trail Rides has something for everyone.
Shakespeare Under The Stars – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
Shakespeare under the Stars at Buena Vista Winery is a truly unique and magical experience. The event takes place at the beautiful Buena Vista Winery, a historic winery founded in 1857 that is nestled in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. The play itself takes place around a large fountain in front of one of the historic buildings, providing a picturesque setting for the literary genius of Shakespeare. Visitors are welcome to bring their own cheese and beverages to enjoy while watching the performance.
Experience the literary genius of Shakespeare while surrounded by the picturesque beauty of the Sonoma Valley at Buena Vista Winery. This one-of-a-kind event offers the perfect summer evening, where you can bring your own charcuterie board and enjoy it while immersing yourself in the performance. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to savor delicious food and great literature in one of the most beautiful settings in the area.
Buena Vista Winery is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Sonoma Valley, even if you’re planning to be in the area at a time when Shakespeare under the stars is not playing. As one of the oldest and most picturesque wineries in the area, it offers a unique and historic experience, regardless of the season. The winery’s picturesque setting, historic buildings and beautiful landscape make it a perfect spot for a designated driver to bring their friends and family. Whether you’re interested in the history of winemaking in California, the beautiful views of the Sonoma Valley, or simply looking for a picturesque spot to spend an afternoon, Buena Vista Winery is a great destination that can be enjoyed by drinkers and tea teetotalers year-round.
Visit Train Town – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
Train Town is a must-visit destination for families with young children. This charming park offers a wide range of activities that are sure to delight kids of all ages. From the exciting train rides that take you on a journey through the park, to the petting zoo where kids can interact with a variety of animals, there’s something for everyone at Train Town.
One of the most popular attractions at Train Town is the amusement park, which features a variety of rides and games. The park includes a carousel, a Ferris wheel, and a roller coaster, as well as a mini train ride, perfect for the little ones. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the history of trains, including a museum that showcases the history of trains and railroads.
As a local, I can attest to the fact that Train Town is a truly special place that is perfect for families with young children. From the exciting train rides, to the petting zoo and amusement park, there’s something for everyone at this charming park. I bring my 3-year-old here every few months, and he always has a blast. So, don’t miss out on this opportunity to make lasting memories with your little ones at Train Town, it’s a place that they will love, and you will too!
Go Trap Shooting At Valley Of The Moon Gun Club – Things To Do In Sonoma Without Drinking
If you’re looking for things to do in Sonoma without drinking, trap shooting at Valley of the Moon Gun Club on Sunday mornings is a great option. This is the only time when the club is open to the public, and it’s a great opportunity to try your hand at this exciting sport.
The Valley of the Moon Gun Club offers a well-maintained, state-of-the-art trap shooting range, where safety officers are always on hand to ensure that everyone is following proper safety protocols.
Whether you’re an experienced shooter or a beginner, the club’s knowledgeable staff will help you get the most out of your experience. Safety officers will also rent out shotguns if you don’t have one with you, so even if you don’t own a gun, you can still give trap shooting a try. To ensure that the range will be open (it floods in the winter sometimes) and that rental shotguns will be available during your visit, it is important to call ahead and double-check availability.
Attend Display Days At The Sonoma Valley Airport
If you’re looking for an exciting and educational day out for the whole family, you won’t want to miss the Display Days at the Sonoma Valley Airport on the second full weekend of every month from noon to 4pm.
Here you can find a wide variety of vintage and veteran aircrafts, from WWII fighter planes to helicopters, and even warbirds, this is a perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most iconic planes in aviation history.
The enthusiasts who bring their planes to the event are more than happy to let you and your kids sit in them, and take a closer look. Not only will you be able to explore the planes, but you’ll also learn more about their history and role in aviation.
As a local, I can attest to the fact that the Display Days at the Sonoma Valley Airport are a must-see for families. When I brought my 3 year old here, he was mesmerized by the planes on display. He got to see planes take off and land while standing very close to the runway, and people were very kind and gave him some model glider airplanes to take home and play with.
Additionally, The Sonoma Valley Airport is a great place to watch planes take off and land, and if you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to see some aerobatic displays by local pilots.
You can also have a picnic on the grassy area, and bring your own food or purchase burgers and hotdogs from the vendors, and enjoy a beautiful day out in the sunshine. Don’t miss this opportunity to make memories with your family and learn more about aviation history. The Display Days at the Sonoma Valley Airport are a must-see for aviation enthusiasts and families alike and is one of my personal favorite events to take my son to as a local.