Top Things to Do in California Wine Country
Sonoma County is not just for wine lovers. While Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Sea World are the big attractions in the state’s southern half, Northern California offers a bounty of encounters that let you savor another side of the Golden State. Healdsburg wineries are a must, however, because you can’t visit wine country without a winery excursion. Here are a few ideas for your Sonoma travel itinerary.
Follow the Sculpture Trail
Enjoy sculpture up close and personal or from your car or bicycle as you follow the Sculpture Trail through the towns of Cloverdale and Geyserville. You’re invited to get out and touch the sculpture, walk around and beneath it, and interact with more than 35 outdoor sculptures arranged in meadows, along the roadside, and in town centers along this nine-mile stretch of road. Each is the work of a professional sculptor, with new pieces chosen by a committee each May.
Take a Safari Trip
Experience a mini-safari as you ride in open-air vehicles through the Safari West Wildlife Preserve and African Tent Camp, on the eastern side of Santa Rosa. There are some 700 animals on this 400-acre preserve, living in conditions similar to their natural habitats. View zebras, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, exotic birds, and other animals on a day trip or make it a true safari adventure and stay overnight in posh tent quarters.
Tour Jordan Winery
Jordan Winery is one of the few Healdsburg wineries that offer seated wine tastings with the winery chef’s food pairings as part of an intimate look at the day-to-day business of winemaking. Sitting amid 1,200 acres, most of it left in its natural condition, sits a French-inspired chateau that houses the winery, cellars, kitchen, tasting library and more. Tour the estate or just the winery, sample chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon made on site and nibble on delicacies in a memorable visit. There are no crowds to fight, as this winery can be enjoyed by appointment only.
Whale Watching and Seafood
Gray whales follow a migratory path along the Sonoma County coast every winter and Bodega Head is an excellent point for whale watching. Volunteers help out on weekends, January through May, and can offer tips on spotting them. Several companies also offer boat excursions in the area. While you’re in the bay, look for restaurants with fresh seasonal dishes, including these favorite spots for crab from Wine Country Table, and a Chowder Day competition among restaurants each January.
Working for Peanuts
If you’re a fan of Charlie Brown, a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa should be on your to-see list. The museum houses a large collection of Peanuts artwork and a variety of products dating from the 1950s to today. The “kite-eating tree” is a fixture in the courtyard, along with a birdbath and holographs of Woodstock and Snoopy. Enjoy animated specials of the Peanuts gang while you’re there.
Healdsburg wineries, exotic animals, sculpture and more await you in Sonoma County, along with towering redwood trees and coastal scenery that is not to be missed. With sunny weather year-round, any time is a good time to visit, but bring a jacket during the winter. For help planning a trip, visit the Sonoma County website.
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