Santa Rosa is the gateway to Sonoma wine country, and few things go together better than fine wine and excellent food. So, it should come as no surprise that Santa Rosa and the surrounding communities offer some fantastic spots to eat.
I discovered this on my first visit to the area, when I went winery-hopping by bicycle and each winery enticed me and my fellow cyclists with plates of cheese, fruit, and bread to pair with our wines. Despite all the snacks, a long day of cycling and drinking had us hungry by the time dinner rolled around. Fortunately for us, locals and visitors are as spoiled for choice when it comes to food as they are when it comes to wine; local restaurants serve up everything from rustic Italian food to hearty Peruvian fare. On a 3-day trip, you can try it all. Here’s what to do.
Make sure to pack layers; you can’t expect California sunshine all the time in this part of the state.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a stop at one (or more) of Sonoma County’s many celebrated wineries.
Since you’re in wine country, start your trip with a tour of some wineries. A great way to visit a few of them in one day is an organized tour with an outfit that has tastings pre-booked. If you want to spend time outdoors as you go, a bicycle tour is a great way to see the area. If you plan to do a lot of drinking, however, a chauffeur-driven wine-tasting tour is a safer bet. Some even include picnic lunches.
If you plan to do a lot of drinking, it may be safer to forego a bicycle in favor of a chauffeur-driven tour, whether you opt for something more casual or treat yourself with a romantic wine tour for two with an included gourmet lunch.
Focus your second day on checking out the local food scene. Grab a breakfast of fresh churros and coffee at Tía María or a massive breakfast sandwich at Criminal Baking Company. Afterward, head out on bikes for a brewery tour with a local guide or take a farm tour at nearby spots like the Achadinha Cheese Company and pick up some local cheese and produce.
Rent an electric bicycle for the afternoon and ride to lunch at Sazón Peruvian Cuisine for lunch. You can enjoy the area’s great bike routes, like the Creek Trail Loop, before dinner at La Gare, a French restaurant that pairs European fare with local wines.
The Pacific is less than an hour’s drive from Santa Rosa, so head to the cute town of Jenner and stop for a breakfast of eggs or avocado toast at Café Aquatica. Then drive south along the coast into Marin County, where you can take a self-guided tour from Tomales to Point Reyes to learn about the area’s agriculture.
In the evening, head back to Santa Rosa and wrap up your trip by checking out the city’s beer and taco scene. If you have room, you could even stop for handmade ice cream at a local favorite like Nimble and Finn’s.