Sonoma is a small city with a wide variety of things to see and do. Founded in 1835 and considered the birthplace of California’s wine industry, the city is a destination for history buffs, wine lovers and anyone looking for a relaxing way to spend a day, a weekend or more. . Neighboring communities throughout the Sonoma Valley offer even more opportunities for exploration. For more information, stop by the Sonoma Valley Visitors Desk in the historic Carnegie Library Building on Sonoma Plaza at 453 First St. E. or visit sonomavalley.com.
Here are some local places that residents and visitors should add to their agenda.
The Swiss Hotel: Locals have been dining – and drinking – at the Swiss Hotel for generations. The Sonoma Plaza restaurant and bar (and five rooms) has been operated by the same family since the 1920s. Last month, the Swiss Hotel was named Sonoma County Small Business of the Year. Selections include salads, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and entrees ranging from eggplant to parmesan to steak. Don’t overlook the decadent desserts, like tiramisu with cappuccino sauce. Reservations accepted.
Location: 18 East, rue d’Espagne.
Hours: 12pm-3pm Sunday; 5-9pm Tuesday; 12 p.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday to Thursday; 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Friday to Saturday. Closed on Mondays.
More information: 707-938-2884, swisshotelsonoma.com
Local Bagels: This casual bagel shop is something of a local institution. It has been providing the community with dense New York-style bagels for over 40 years. Locals line up for their favorites like everything from bagels to garlic and jalapeno among the options. Arrive early for the best selection. The menu includes coffee, egg sandwiches, specialties and spreads like the tasty Homegrown weed.
Location: 201 W. Napa St., #21, in the Marketplace Mall
Hours: 7:30am-1:30pm daily, but sometimes full early
More information: 707-996-0166, homegrownbagels.com
Sunflower Caffe: This casual eatery is the perfect place to grab a specialty coffee or cup of tea to start your day, or wind down the afternoon with a glass of wine, smoothie, seltzer water or a lavender lemonade. There are plenty of drinks to choose from, and the family-run cafe also offers seasonal brunch selections, including a popular avocado toast.
Location: 421 First St. W., Sonoma
Hours: 8am-3pm daily
More information: 707-996-6645, sonomasunflower.com
Sonoma State Historic Park: Learn about Sonoma’s rich history, including the Bear Flag Rebellion, as you visit the six historic sites at Sonoma State Historic Park. Special events, lectures, and self-guided and guide-led tours are available to help bring history to life. Sites include Mission San Francisco Solano, the northernmost of California’s 21 missions, Sonoma Barracks, and General Vallejo Home, Lachryma Montis.
Location: 20 East, rue d’Espagne.
Hours: 10am-5pm daily, gift shop open 10am-4pm Thursday-Monday
More information: 707-938-9560, parks.ca.gov/?page_id=479
Depot Park Museum: Housed in a replica of a 100-year-old railroad depot, the Sonoma Valley Historical Society operates this impressive museum dedicated to the history of Moon Valley. The Rand Room shines a light on the region’s golden age of railroading, with model trains, photographs and memorabilia. Also keep an eye out for special exhibits, as well as permanent exhibits from a bygone era.
Location: 270 First Street West.
Hours: 1pm-4pm Saturday-Sunday
More information: 707-938-1762 (during museum hours) or 707-343-1335, depotparkmuseum.org
Sonoma Mountain Cemetery: Visiting a cemetery doesn’t have to be macabre, especially when it shines a light on local history. Download or pick up the Mountain Cemetery Walking Tour brochure at the Sonoma Overlook Trail kiosk at the entrance to the cemetery or at the Sonoma Valley Visitor Office in Sonoma Plaza. The hillside cemetery, established in 1841, is one of the oldest operating cemeteries in the western United States. It includes the burial grounds of the local town founders and a Revolutionary War veteran.
Location: 90 West First Street
Hours: 8am-5pm everyday
More information: 707-933-2218, sonomacity.org/mountain-cemetery
Sonoma Plaza: Jewel in Sonoma’s crown, this historic 8-acre downtown plaza is the largest in California. Anchored by Sonoma City Hall (dedicated in 1908), Plaza Park features two playgrounds, picnic tables, a duck pond, the Bear Flag monument, and a life-size statue of General Mariano Vallejo reclining on a bench – a perfect spot for a selfie with the town’s founder. There is plenty of lawn and shade, ideal for a relaxing stop between sightseeing, wine tasting or browsing the Plaza’s many shops and art galleries. Although the city allows dogs, pooches are not allowed in the park.