SONOMA (CBS 5) – Sonoma, less than an hour from San Francisco, attracts visitors for many reasons: good food, world class wines and abundant natural beauty.

The history here is also an important part of the Californiastory; the Sonoma Mission, just off the square is the most northern of all missions. It is also the birthplace of the California State bear flag. The home of General Vallejo is worth a visit, too.

The town plaza is the anchor of the town. It’s a gathering place for the community and visiting day trippers and overnighters. The inviting lawns are perfect for a picnic.

Food lovers are royally spoiled here with top notch restaurants on every corner. One of my favorites is The Girl and The Fig – a scrumptious taste of the region – open daily for lunch and dinner. The weekend brunch is especially good and is to be enjoyed on the patio under the Sonoma sun. For a more communal experience, be sure to sit at the bar – and don’t leave without stopping by the Fromage Salon.

Cafe La Haye is another Sonoma gem serving up locally sourced cuisine, a taste of the best of California with a nod to France. I had the joy of enjoying dinner here recently, the last servings of foie gras.  It was knockout. The window seats are coveted, get there early to ensure you get one.

Treat your palette and taste your way along the recently opened Vine Alley. Some of the regions best wines can be sampled here. Envolve Winery has a hot, hip tasting room. You may find “Bachelor” Ben Flajnick, a winemaker by trade,  behind the counter pouring one of his Sonoma cabs or pinots. He can can also be found on Twitter.

Work off the good food by embarking on a bike ride with the good folks from “Wine Country Cyclery.” They offer a winery tour by bike with a perfectly paired wine tasting as your reward after the ride. Bikes and gear are available to rent. The tour itself through Roche Winery is a must.

For an overnight stay your options are a plenty. I highly recommend the following spots:

The Lodge Sonoma

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

MacArthur Place

Sonoma, whether on a bike or on foot, has so much to explore beyond the vines.


(Copyright 2012 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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