One of my favorite things to do when visitors come to town is take them on a stroll around the Sonoma Plaza, it’s always a good time and no one is ever disappointed. The Plaza is the place to spend and afternoon and it’s where you’ll get a little taste of everything.
Out-of-towners always ask, “Napa or Sonoma?” and I always say “Both”. You’ll get a totally different experience wherever you go. I love to visit Napa, it’s sophisticated and stunning to see, but I grew up in Sonoma County so I’m biased and I like our more casual vibe. Sonoma is home to me and I so love to play tour guide right here in my backyard.
I shot all of these pictures with my go to favorite lens, the 35mm Nikkor f2 that I mentioned years ago in this Yosemite post. I love this lens because of its small size and versatility for walkabout shooting. Its range is f/2 to f/22 so you can get crisp shots from far away for landscapes, or shallow depth of field at a wide aperture when needed.
Start wherever you park your car but be sure to walk the entire square, it’s worth it.
On the north side of the Plaza you’ll find the famous Girl & the Fig restaurant and a gorgeous home store called Summervine. Dine at the old time Swiss Hotel, or pick up a picnic at the Sonoma Cheese Shop.
On the east side of the Plaza you’ll find several shops, bars, and art galleries, as well as several cool alleys to duck down and explore. You’ll pass the famous Basque Cafe (amazing breads and salads), also the Sebastiani Theater and the Ledson tasting room. Stop in to the Sonoma Wine Shop, they know their stuff and sell only boutique wines, it’s a nice contrast to the high volume commercial wines from the Sonoma valley.
The south side offers various shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms. I love the vibe of the Pangloss Cellars wine lounge.
On the west side you’ll find a great bar, olive oil tasting room, art gallery, the Sunflower Caffe and my favorite place to splurge on lunch, the courtyard of the El Dorado Hotel.
Note there are grandfathered alcohol consumption laws in the Plaza so you can bring or buy a bottle of wine and food, and picnic in the park without a care. Two playgrounds means you can bring the kids along too. :) Or pop into a variety of other tasting rooms you’ll find just off the Plaza there are so many.
Hope you enjoyed the stroll, come and visit us sometime in the Sonoma Plaza, it won’t disappoint!
Thank you for the pictures.
I used to go there every year.
My mother is from San Francisco so as a family when we were growing up and visiting family we would visit the wine country as well.
What a lovely relaxing area.
It is lovely, thank you!
I was in St Helena last spring and the best money I spent was renting a bike and riding around the little towns and wineries. I had a hard time not stopping every 5 minutes just to take pictures. Every new scene is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been! Thanks for sharing!
So true, I feel very blessed to live here :)
Thanks for this post. My daughter-in-law grew up in Sonoma and her parents still live there, so I’ve had a chance to visit a few times. The Square is so fun!
Agreed always a good time, but so much more to see beyond it too!
I grew up in San Rafael-and spent a lot of time in Sonoma as my dad was in the wine industry. We had so many family picnics in that park on the Square. I also got engaged at Sonoma Mission Inn 25 years ago-and spent the weekend afterwards strolling around the square. I haven’t been to Sonoma in ages-looks so beautiful and so much more chi chi now. I’m definitely due for a trip there!
Yes you must visit again soon!
Don’t forget about the duck pond! Or all the food trucks that show up for the farmers markets, or the 4th of July and harvest festivities… so many great things in that little area.
Yes so true, love the farmer’s market!
Aww, i am so jealous of you..to live in such a dreamy location. well, my next life i would live here…:)
Hi. 9 of us will be visiting for the first time. Should we make reservations for the tasyings in the Plaza?
I don’t usually make a reservation, but perhaps call the day before or the morning of to schedule since you have a larger group.