The Perfect 2-Day Itinerary for a Romantic Weekend in Sonoma County, CA
If you’re looking to plan a romantic weekend for you and your sweetie, look no further than Sonoma County, California. The county stretches from the world-renowned wine-producing region of Sonoma Valley in the east to the rugged, wild Sonoma coast in the west. Farm tours, wine tasting experiences, hiking, craft breweries, road biking, fine dining, and luxurious spa treatments lure visitors from around the world.
Read on for the perfect 2-day itinerary for a memorable romantic weekend getaway in Sonoma County.
When to Visit:
Sonoma County is a fantastic destination year-round, with mild winters and dry, toasty summers. But it’s the spring that will make you truly fall in love with Sonoma. If your schedule allows, plan a romantic getaway to Sonoma in April or May when the streets are festooned in fragrant roses, the hillsides emblazoned with purple lupines and orange poppies, and cool mornings give way to temperate, sunny afternoons. It’s the perfect season for falling in love over a crisp glass of rosé.
How to Get There:
If you're flying in, your best bet will be to fly to either Santa Rosa (~55-minute drive), Oakland (~1-hour 30-minute drive), or San Francisco (~1-hour 30-minute drive) where you can rent a car and make the drive to the town of Sonoma. If you can, opt for an electric rental car to save on gas and reduce the environmental impact of your trip.
If you live in northern California, Sonoma County is perfectly positioned for an easy weekend getaway. If you’re coming from southern California, consider adding a day or two to this itinerary and following Highway 1 up the coast. You’ll pass through Big Sur, one of the most breathtaking stretches of coastline in the world, swing by Monterey, and cruise through Santa Cruz on your way to Wine Country.
The Perfect 2-Day Itinerary for a Romantic Weekend in Sonoma County, CA
5:00pm: Arrive in Sonoma and check in to your hotel.
5:30pm: After freshening up, head straight to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa to kick off your romantic weekend with a bit of live music. Starting in the spring and running through the fall, the Fairmont features live music on the lawn from 5:00-8:00pm every Friday and Saturday. Order a celebratory cocktail, then cuddle up in an Adirondack chair while you take in the tunes from some of Sonoma’s favorite local artists. If there is space, cozy up by one of the fire pits scattered around the lawn.
7:00pm: As the sun begins to set, make your way back towards the charming Sonoma Plaza for dinner at Taub Family Outpost. Their teal-accented stucco building, which houses a cafe, wine shop, restaurant, and cocktail bar, is a one-stop shop for all things delicious. Dinner is served upstairs and features ingredients from local farms. Opt for an environmentally-friendly dinner by selecting from the many enticing vegetarian dishes like grilled dates, endive salad, and gnocchi. Dishes change with the seasons, so you’re sure to enjoy the freshest flavors.
9:00pm: Not quite ready to call it a night? Tucked away at the back of the building on the second floor, you’ll find one of Sonoma's best-kept secrets. Taub’s speakeasy-style bar, The Beacon, serves up an enticing mix of relaxed, retro vibes alongside spectacular cocktails. It’s swanky without being stuffy and the moody lighting makes it the perfect spot for a romantic nightcap. Drinks are a bit pricey but they are pretty enough to be art and tasty enough that you’ll be hard-pressed to only order one.
Day One: Saturday
9:00am: Nothing says romantic weekend quite like a leisurely morning, so make your way to Baker & Cook for brunch. This unassuming bakery sits on the outskirts of town along Highway 12. Tucked away from the highway noise is a case full of delectable pastries, a kitchen that serves up excellent brunch plates, and a peaceful back patio perfect for slow mornings. The morning bun is a highlight, with its flaky, browned exterior and its buttery, sweet center, as is the quiche served with mixed greens.
10:00am: After breakfast, it’s time to begin your tour of Sonoma County. Chart your course north towards Oak Hill Farm in Glen Ellen and take in the sights as you go. With its rolling hills, majestic oaks, and acres of vineyards, Sonoma soothes the soul with its pastoral beauty. When you arrive at Oak Hill Farm, you’ll be greeted by views of farm fields, flower gardens, and a large red barn. The farm, which sits on the ancestral lands of California’s indigenous peoples, was one of the first properties in Sonoma County to be placed in a conservation easement, ensuring it will never be developed.
Today, pop into The Red Barn Store for a bouquet for your sweetie or a locally-grown snack for the road. If you happen to visit on the first Saturday of the month, you can join the farm tour that departs from the barn at 10:00am. The Red Barn Store is open every Saturday from 9:00am-3:00pm.
10:30am: Continue your journey north for a short 6-minute drive to Sonoma Valley Regional Park. Parking costs $7.00 and gives you access to miles of picturesque trails. If you’re dressed for it, consider a longer loop following the Cougar Trail to the Black Creek Canyon Trail to the Valley of the Moon Trail, returning along the ridgetop Woodland Star Trail. Otherwise, take a quick jaunt along the paved Valley of the Moon Trail. Keep an eye out for California Quail, deer, and other critters along the way.
11:30am: After your hike, stop at Flatbed Farm just up the road. This sweet little farm stand offers produce, plant starts, and shelf-stable goodies like shrubs, pickles, spreads, and more. Flatbed Farm is open from 9:00am-2:00pm every Saturday.
12:00pm: As you go in search of lunch, trade the picturesque Sonoma Valley for another of the county’s prettiest corners: the coast. A mere 45-minutes to the west you’ll find Bodega Bay Oyster Company, a family-owned shellfish farming operation. Since 1985, the family has been farming oysters in nearby Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay. Their mission is to offer high-quality, sustainably-farmed seafood while serving as responsible community members and stewards of the marine environment.
At their roadside market and restaurant, you’ll find locally-farmed oysters on the menu, as well as bivalves from Washington and Canada. Order a few of each on the half shell to sample and compare. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more indulgent, order the grilled oyster sampler. Don’t forget a glass of bubbly to go with your feast - this is a romantic weekend getaway, after all!
2:00pm: After lunch, continue your meander towards Bodega Bay, another 20 minutes to the west. Set your sights on the Bodega Bay Trailhead in Sonoma Coast State Park. Wind your way around the natural harbor of Bodega Bay until you crest the impressive granite promontory known as Bodega Head. From here, the spectacularly rugged coast stretches out in either direction, a mess of crumbling rock and foaming, turquoise water. You don’t have to wander far for good views, so find a spot on the cliffs just beyond the parking lot to watch the surf. If you’re up for a bit more exercise, consider hiking the East or West Trails; both are under two miles.
4:00pm: After a full day of exploring, it’s time to return to Sonoma. Drop by your hotel for a little siesta before heading out for dinner.
8:00pm: For a truly spectacular dining experience, snag a reservation at Sonoma’s most talked-about new restaurant, Animo. Tucked inside an unassuming, one-room dining room, Animo wows from start to finish. The restaurant is run by a husband and wife pair who welcome each guest with genuine personability. The space is eclectic and intimate, with candlelight dancing on every table and a variety of natural materials adding texture and warmth. One wall is decorated with delicate, floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with apples while across the room the open kitchen crackles with the heat and dancing flames of a wood-fired hearth and fast-moving chefs.
Every dish is a creative exploration of Korean, American, and Spanish flavors and ingredients. For a plant-forward meal, try the Grilled Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Broccoli Rabe, Charred Sugar Snap Peas, and the bitter Friseé topped with a melty poached egg (ask to forego the lardons). Order a bottle of wine and linger over your meal. Before you go, be sure to order a slice of the Burnt Cheesecake, a delectable Spanish-style cake that’s subtly sweet and oh-so creamy.
Day Two: Sunday
10:00am: Sometimes the key to a relaxing, romantic weekend is a little bit of extra sleep, so plan to snooze a bit before heading out on today’s adventure. When you’re up, pop over to The Porch at MacArthur Place for a coffee and a croissant. MacArthur Place, which has been recognized for its sustainability initiatives, exudes wine-country luxury.
Take your goodies to go and find a seat in one of the property’s many picturesque gardens. The white roses, creeping vines, and charming cottages lend an idyllic air to the space.
10:30am: After breakfast, make your way to The Spa at MacArthur Place for a couple’s treatment. Choose from an assortment of offerings, including a couples’ massage, body wraps, facials, and more.
11:30am: Bask in the relaxation and stay to enjoy the spa amenities following your treatment. Don’t miss the steam room and the large, outdoor pool. Find two lounge chairs in the shade by the pool and settle in with a good book.
2:00pm: No romantic getaway to Sonoma County is complete without wine tasting. For a dreamy wine tasting experience with a positive impact, book a table on the Oak Knoll at Bartholomew Estate Vineyards & Winery. Gnarled old oak trees shade the tasting space as birds flit amongst the canopy. As you sip, gaze out over the vines and learn from Bartholomew’s warm, knowledgeable staff about their 22-acres of certified organic vines. Consider buying a bottle or two to take home as a memento of your weekend getaway.
3:30pm: After two activity-filled days in Sonoma County, it’s time to wrap up your romantic weekend. Pack the car and wave goodbye to California wine country!
Responsible Travel in Sonoma County:
Where to Stay:
MacArthur Place, which exudes understated luxury and is located just blocks from the Sonoma Plaza, has been recognized for its sustainability initiatives. Thanks to its central location, you can also cut down on your driving by walking or biking into town.
For a unique experience, consider a farm stay at Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen. Situated on 105 acres, the Beltane Ranch Farm Inn immerses guests in rural Sonoma life. Explore the property, play tennis or lawn games, and enjoy a chef-prepared, ranch-grown breakfast each morning. And don’t forget to try some of their regeneratively-farmed, estate wines before you go!
Local History & Culture:
The lands that make up modern-day Sonoma County represent the unceded, ancestral home of the Miwok, Pomo, and Kashaya people. Long before Mexican and European colonizers claimed the land of Sonoma as their own, indigenous tribes lived in permanent communities that thrived on the natural riches of Sonoma’s diverse ecosystems. Today, indigenous tribes are largely missing from the histories told about Sonoma County, while much attention revolves around individuals like General Mariano Vallejo, who led colonial efforts. When you visit, take the time to think twice about the signs and plaques you read and you’ll notice how indigenous voices are still silenced. Read more about the lack of indigenous representation here.
The little choices we make when we travel can create a big impact over time. If you’re traveling to Sonoma County by car, consider renting an electric vehicle. Many hotels, restaurants, and towns provide charging facilities. California continues to struggle with drought conditions, so be mindful of your water use when visiting Sonoma County; reuse your sheets, take short showers, and be aware when running the faucet. When exploring local parks, take care to tread lightly and follow all ‘Leave No Trace’ principles to ensure the plants and animals of the region are not negatively impacted by our recreation. Whenever possible, opt for vegetable-focused meals and sustainable, local meat or seafood.