Sonoma County Adventures, Experiences and Explorations

Rebecca Germolus on May 31, 2024

A visit to Sonoma County’s Wine Country includes superb wineries, stellar scenery, delicious dining, relaxing lodgings and so much more. It’s the “more” that’s worth exploring. It’s been a while since we tapped into all the other things that make Sonoma County the perfect playground for adults (and kids, too).


A aerial view of an ocean beach divided by a long narrow land mass with a bay on the other side of the land mass. Coastal hills in the background


Sonoma County Coast

Whenever I need to recharge from what life has thrown my way, my first thought is to head toward the coast. The sea air refreshes and calms me within minutes of walking along a coastal bluff or a beach. But a coastal visit can also be the last stop on a day trip, where you watch the sunset after a day of exploration. Here are a few options for you to consider:


Exploring Duncans Mills

Just a few minutes from the coast, this tiny village offers hours of entertainment. I drove by it for years before one day I stopped and instantly was captivated by its charm. In 1877, two young Scotsmen, Sam and Alex Duncan, established a sawmill at this location. The town that grew up around it was named for the brothers and their mill. Oddly, the name has no apostrophe and has always been called Duncans Mills. If you’d like to read the early history, the village’s official website tells of the rapid growth the town experienced until the 1906 earthquake destroyed most of it. Today the village’s population is only 85.


An old train depot painted yellow with terracotta orange trim. The sign on the building reads Duncans Mills
Old train depot at Duncans Mills


When you roll into town, I recommend visiting Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery for a superb cup made from beans freshly roasted on-premise and something delicious from the bakery case. Enjoy sipping and noshing on the back patio where the peaceful setting might keep you there long past your last sip. A few steps from the coffee shop, you’ll find the village’s official museum and several old train cars, reminders of the boom days of Duncans Mills.


A cottage surrounded by flowering bushes and has two signs reading Sophie's Cellars


Shopping and Sipping Sonoma County Wines

Now head to the other side of this village (divided by Highway 116), to check out some of the shops, including antiques stores, a book store, an art gallery specializing in early California paintings and contemporary artists, a charming tea shop and more. After exploring every shop, it’s time to sit and sip again. Sophie’s Cellars and Wine Bar provides an outdoor deck and patio so you can enjoy a glass of wine or share a bottle paired with a gourmet cheese plate. Owner Alice Hunter offers a small but excellent selection of wines from Sonoma County wineries like Baldassari, Colagrossi, Mengler Family, Balverne (a second label for Notre Vue) and many other small local wineries.


Greenery and flowers in pots in the foreground, then a fence enclosing black colored cows grazing on grass. in the distance are trees and the partial view of a house.
The view from Sophie’s Cellars


Even if the weather is chilly, you’ll be cozy because the outdoor space has heaters and alpaca blankets from Worldly Goods, which is just around the corner. This peaceful setting is the perfect place to sit, sip and relax into the moment.


Biking the Backroads

As you travel the bucolic backroads of Sonoma County, you’ll see a lot of seasoned cyclists pedaling along, but how do you join in if you didn’t bring your bike with you? Not a problem. There are several places within the county where you can rent bikes for a few hours, a few days, or for your entire stay.

Russian River Cycle Service, located in the adorable hamlet of Forestville, offers everything you’ll need, plus more. Owners Brian and Lori Borchers have excellent rental bikes, plus their customer service will have you returning again and again.


A man and woman with three children in front of a bike shop with bikes on the sideway and each person has a bike helmet. There are cars on the street and a couple of sandwich signs on the sidewalk.


Brian and Lori will find the right size bike just for you and fit you in the correct helmet. If you want, they’ll help you determine the best biking path or route to fit your skill level, or your group’s needs and desires. Their bike shop is located only one block from the start of the West County Regional Trail, a 5.5 mile route from Forestville to Sebastopol. This well-loved trail is used by walkers, runners and cyclists as they wend their way through what is called “the safest and easiest bike ride in Sonoma County.” It is also happens to have beautiful scenery lining the path.


People and dogs walking on a tree lined path
West County Regional Trail


Cycling and Tasting

On the back of the trail map given to bike renters, there is a list of local restaurants and wineries located along the trail. It includes wineries like Russian River Vineyards, Iron Horse Vineyards, Char Vale and several more. How convenient that there’s a safe bike path that just happens to go by so many wineries!

Russian River Cycle Service also offers guided bike tours, which require advanced reservations. One of their recent guided tours was for the Real Housewives of Orange County, where the group biked to Russian River Vineyards. You never know who you’re going to meet along the Wine Road! The word is the Housewives were taping an episode that will air sometime in August 2024.


Sonoma County Farm Trails

If you want to get back to nature, the Farm Trails was started more than 50 years ago to help connect people with their local food sources. The printed and online map and guide can help you find just about any food source from honey to garden-grown vegetables and organically raised meats to gourmet mushrooms, and so much more. You can also find food purveyors that source local food, and tasting venues for beer, wine, cider and spirits. You can even locate Christmas tree farms and a list of every Sonoma County Farmer’s Market.


Three brochures laying on a table, Wine Road map, Sonoma County Farm Trails map and guide. California Cheest Trail map


Many of the farms offer tours and others have seasonal U-Pick produce options. The Farm Trails hosts several events including a Spring and Fall tour, and the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair held the second weekend in August.

If you want to reconnect to nature, a visit to Redwood Hill Farms ~ Capracopia will give you the option of “kid cuddling” the newly arriving baby goats, feeding the adult goats, and a hands-on milking demonstration by a member of the Bice family. This is just one of the many opportunities you can have with visiting a Farm Trails member.


Multiple goats of varying colors standing on a pile of compost.
Some of the goats at Redwood Hill Farms


Cheese Trails

Wine and cheese have a natural partnership. Many wineries offer food and wine pairings, which often include cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese? Did you know you can visit and purchase cheese directly from the maker rather than from your local grocery store? Sonoma County has eight cheesemakers who are part of the California Cheese Trail, and sell directly from their locations.


four wrapped pieces of cheese with labels from Bohemian Creamery placed in a basket.


The Bohemian Creamery, west of Santa Rosa on Occidental Road on the way to Hwy 116, offers formal and informal cheese tastings, tours and, of course, you can purchase the cheese directly from the source.


two wedges of cheese and a bag marked Willie's curds with a blue sheep ad the British flag on the bag. The cheese is sitting on a darkly stained wooden cutting board.


Wm. Cofield Cheesemakers, located in the Barlow district in Sebastopol, is a purveyor of British-style cheese made from local milk sources. In addition to offering their own handmade cheeses, they also sell a selection of other locally produced cheeses.


Walking Off the Cheese

Sonoma County Regional Parks include so many gems, it would take a very long time to explore all 60+ of them. Here are a few highlights so you’ll be tempted to come check them out soon.

Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space is an 1,100-acre park with hillside vistas, oak woodlands, creeks and about seven miles of hiking trails. It also has a terrific disk golf course!

two hikers walking on a dirt path going uphill. Around the path is green and oak trees just starting to leaf out.
Taylor Mountain Regional Park


Riverfront Regional Park, located along the Russian River just a short drive from Windsor, features a picnic area in a redwood grove and two lakes for fishing, kayaking and canoeing. There are also over three miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

a wooden bridge walkway through a grove of redwood trees. The sun is streaming through the trees.
Riverfront Regional Park


Back to the Coast

There are many spots to walk along the ocean or watch the sunset, but Doran Regional Park, also known as Doran Beach, offers a long protected beach, perfect for strolling or to sit on the sand and enjoy the world around you. After a day of adventures in Sonoma County, watching the sun slide into the ocean is hard to beat.


sunset at the ocean with gentle waves rolling in
Sunset at Doran Beach



In case you missed some of the previous blogs exploring Sonoma County, here are links to a few of them:

Best Wine Country Trip Planning Resource
Embrace Vacation!
Visiting Geyserville
Exploring Santa Rosa
Endless Summer Fun
Exploring Guerneville
Autumn in Wine Country
A Stroll Through Cloverdale

I invite you to come explore and experience Sonoma County. Your next adventure awaits you here!

Happy Sipping!


Posted by Rebecca Germolus

Rebecca Germolus, co-owner of Maximum Value Marketing, loves Sonoma County and playing along the Wine Road. Rebecca daily immerses herself in wine country by providing cost-effective marketing and writing solutions to wineries and restaurants.

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