Exploring Sonoma, CA, By Bike
If you’re looking forward to exploring Sonoma, CA, by bike, springtime is the perfect time for a visit.
When to Visit:
Sonoma, CA is blessed with good weather year-round. If you’re looking forward to exploring Sonoma, CA, by bike, springtime is the perfect time for a visit. The mornings and evenings are cool and daytime temperatures typically stay in the 70s and 80s. If you time your visit right, you’ll enjoy fields full of vibrant yellow mustard flowers and spring blooms around every corner.
How to Get There:
If you’re flying in, you’ll likely fly into San Francisco or Oakland where you can rent a car and drive about 1 hour 15 minutes from either airport to reach Sonoma. The drive is picturesque and you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Bay Area’s city skylines and bridges before winding your way into the soft hills and rolling vineyards of Wine Country.
If you live nearby, simply throw your bikes on your car and head to downtown Sonoma to start your adventure.
Saturday: Day 1
9:00am: Start your weekend adventure with a croissant and chai from the Taub Family Outpost on the Sonoma Plaza. Sit outside at their cafe tables or walk across the street and grab a bench by the pond in the Plaza - keep an eye out for the ducks with funny hairdos!
10:00am: Time to hit the road! If you’re staying at a hotel that provides bikes or brought your own, you’re all set. If you need to rent bikes, consider Wine Country Cyclery or Sonoma Valley Bike Tours.
11:00am: Get comfortable on your bike with a quick pedal on the Sonoma Bike Path. The path stretches 1.5 miles from one side of town to the other. After you’re warmed up, head to the east side of town to pick up lunch from Sonoma’s Best. Poke around the modern mercantile, then grab a Sonoma Veggie sandwich and some chips to go.
12:30pm: Pack your lunch and bike a mile to the Sonoma Garden Park. The Garden Park is a city-owned, 6.1-acre community park and working farm that serves as a model of sustainable agriculture. The Park is managed by Sonoma Ecology Center. Take some time to wander around and you’ll find community garden plots, a chicken coop, compost piles, a native plant nursery, educational signage, and more. When you’re done exploring, find a picnic table and enjoy your lunch amidst the bounty of the Garden Park.
2:00pm: After lunch, hop back on your bike and head towards the Sonoma Bike Path. Follow the path to Montini Open Space Preserve, also managed by the Sonoma Ecology Center. You’ll want to enter the Preserve via the 4th Street W entrance where you can lock your bike to the fence. For a beautiful, easy loop, follow the Holstein Hill Trail to the Spotted Fawn Trail to the Valley of the Moon Trail and back to the Holstein Hill Trail.
4:00pm: After your hike, hop back on your bike and head to The Panel, a local wine shop, to pick up a bottle of wine to pair with dinner. The small shop is tucked away in the back corner of the Sonoma Market Shopping Center. Follow the signs and you’ll find it. The owner, Darlene, is incredibly friendly and helpful, so let her know what you’re looking for or ask her to pick something for you. You won’t be disappointed! In addition to selling great bottles in their shop, they also offer a wine club and blind tasting packages that can be shipped to friends for a fun, shared experience.
5:30pm: Once you’ve purchased your wine, hop back on your bike and head to The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. Starting in the spring, the hotel features local musicians on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Order a cocktail from the bar, grab a seat by one of the warming fire pits and settle in for a joyful performance.
7:00pm: After a day full of biking and hiking, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite. Pedal back to the Plaza for dinner. For a casual option, order takeout from El Dorado Cantina and have a picnic dinner in the Plaza. For an indulgent, flavorful dish, order the Crispy Avocado Tacos and Chips & Guacamole on the side (you can never have too much avocado!). If you’d prefer a sit-down dinner, try Valley Bar + Bottle. Their menu features inventive small plates, perfect for sharing. Saturday nights can be busy, so call ahead to make reservations.
Sunday: Day 2
9:30am: Start your day with a leisurely breakfast at Layla, the restaurant at MacArthur Place. Be sure to wander around the beautiful gardens after your meal!
11:30am: Once you’re ready to go, jump back on your bike and head to Hopmunk Tavern to grab takeout lunch. Order the Kale Caesar or the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad and pack it away for later.
11:45am: From Hopmunk Tavern, pedal 2.1 miles to Bartholomew Park. The Park was originally home to Count Agoston Haraszthy’s residence and vineyards and is considered by many the birthplace of California’s premium wine industry. Today, Bartholomew Park features 375 acres of vineyards, hiking trails, gardens, and more. You can hike the dog-friendly trails, explore the gardens, and picnic on the grounds.
Lock your bikes and start your hike at the North Gate Trailhead. For a large loop, follow the Grape Stomp Trail to the You-Walk Miwok Trail. Make sure to stop at ‘Szeptaj Point’ (Hungarian for ‘beautiful view’). You’ll finish your hike at the South Gate Trailhead.
After your hike, enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the many picnic tables spread about the property.
2:00pm: If you call ahead for reservations, you can finish your visit with a wine tasting at Bartholomew Winery. A flight of four wines from their certified organic estate vineyards will run you $25 / person. Enjoy your flight beneath the majestic trees on the Oak Lawn and reflect on your weekend of adventures.
4:00pm: After your wine tasting, it’s time to wrap up the weekend. Return your bikes, pack your bags, and head home.
Responsible Travel in Sonoma, CA:
Where to Stay: A few years ago, in response to the number of properties being purchased as vacation rental properties, the city of Sonoma instituted restrictions on short-term rentals such as Airbnb and VRBO. Some rentals were grandfathered in, so you may consider looking at the options. Whenever possible, look for short-term rentals where the owner lives onsite to avoid supporting absentee landlords and local displacement.
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, there are a number of good options within walking distance of the Sonoma Plaza. MacArthur Place offers an expansive, serene property featuring charming cottage gardens, firepits, modern-rustic decor, and an excellent onsite restaurant, Layla. If you’d like to stay on the Plaza, check out the casually elegant El Dorado Hotel + Kitchen. The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa is further from town, but offers a large property with pools, spa, gym, and more. All three hotels offer complimentary or rental bikes.
Environmental Consciousness: California is once again struggling with extremely low rainfall and drought conditions, meaning an environmental consciousness is important for locals and visitors alike. When you visit, be mindful of water consumption, reduce your use of single-use items, opt to travel by foot or bike, and eat locally whenever possible to reduce transportation and cultivation impacts. When hiking or exploring, practice Leave No Trace and stay on trails so as not to disturb wildlife or damage native plants.