I am fortunate to live in California, close to several wine countries. Living in the middle of the Central Coast wine country, I never really considered going to Sonoma County, until after researching it. Now I am ready to pack my bags and have a fun girls weekend there. I think you could have a really nice weekend and not spend that much money.
Where to stay? I looked into several hotels, bed and breakfast’s and vacation rentals. In my opinion, it depends on the type of trip you are going on. I feel the best value would be a bed and breakfast if I were going with my significant other or just one friend. If there is a larger group then I would go for the vacation rental. The bed or breakfast is quaint and serves breakfast (hence the name). Bed & breakfasts are usually a pretty good bargain. Groupon and Livingsocial offer deals often. There are last-minute discounts if you can find a vacancy for bed and breakfasts (check the website when booking). With a group of 4 or more I would rent a vacation rental. The price is very reasonable especially if you are sharing the cost with friends. You can stop at the market and get snacks and breakfast items. This will cut down on the costs of eating out the whole time.
What to do? In my research I found there are a lot of things to do in Sonoma besides just wine taste. Sonoma has several little boutique shops, so shopping would be a great thing to add to the to do list. Sonoma is near beautiful beaches and the Armstrong Redwood State Reserve (and several other parks). All of these places are perfect for a nice hike, sight-seeing, photography, picnicking or just relaxing.There are a few little museums, for example the Charles M. Schulz museum, this is a “Peanuts” museum. If you are a fan of Charlie Brown and Snoopy this would be an entertaining place to see. There are a couple of raceways, if a huge thrill is what you are seeking then you came to the right place. Put the pedal to the metal and race your heart away, Sonoma has a few raceways to choose from. For a free experience you can stroll down Florence Avenue and view a neighborhood filled with whimsical junk sculptures. Of course, we cannot forget wine tasting. Another opportunity to bring a picnic and incorporate the food with wine pairing. Bringing your own food can cut down on costs. Considering joining a wine club. This will usually get complimentary tasting for you and your friends, plus a discount on any wines you want to purchase. If each of you join a club this will save you several dollars on tasting fees.
Where to eat? I have never been to Sonoma, I just had to base the restaurant recommendations off of the research and reviews.All the restaurants are located in Sonoma, this should make it easy to find. I am a frugal person, and not a big fan of really elegant, overpriced restaurants. My goal is to find good value, which really means good food, not over priced. Most of the time I share meals and an appetizer. This way I do not over eat or over spend. I am also a foodie. This is a part of travel I enjoy tremendously. In my research I look at all the reviews, good and bad. When the bad reviews are few and consist of “slow service” or “small portions” I generally ignore them especially 2 bad out of 347 reviews.My experience with reviews is there is always a “negative Nelly/Neal” in the world.There will always be at least one bad review, just make sure its something that doesn’t bother you. That being said, The following would be the restaurants I would consider eating at.
LaSalette:This restaurant has authentic Portuguese food. The bulk of the reviews say how incredible, delicious and authentic the food is. The food appears to be moderately price $15-$25 per entrée. They serve lunch and dinner.The menu was not displayed, a lot of the dishes were mentioned in the reviews and sounded yummy.
Sunflower Caffe Espresso & Wine Bar: This is fresh California cuisine serving breakfast and lunch. The restaurant is in a garden like setting. The reviews say the atmosphere is very enjoyable. Prices are $10-$20 per entrée.
Hopmonk Tavern: Another California cuisine ranging from $10-$20 per entrée. Most of the reviews are about how good the beer is. I think this an awesome feature in wine country, there is always a beer drinker in the mix of people on a trip, this will make them happy.
The Breakaway Cafe: The menu looked yummy to me and so did the pictures. This was another moderately priced restaurant $8-$25. There was some reviews of slow service, this isn’t a fast food place. Slow down and enjoy the meal and your time in Sonoma.
Park 21 Cafe, Grill and Market: This restaurant is American, Mediterranean, Contemporary, Californian cuisine. Moderately price $10-$20 per entrée. This restaurant has a wide range of food choices. I believe this restaurant has great value (based on the pictures). Every review was about great service and great food. There was only on negative review and it was that the coffee was expensive. I think I will take my chances.
After my research I am excited about Sonoma. I am ready to go, I think this would be a great girls trip. We could even stop in San Fransisco on our way home. I hope this helps with any plans to Sonoma you may be planning. Please share your experience with us after your trip. Safe travels.