Located 60 miles north of Burlingame is Sonoma, the short-lived capital of the California Republic in 1846, lasting only 26 days. Today, Sonoma is known for being the heart of California’s wine industry and the Sonoma International Film Festival, which takes place every April since 1997. Sonoma is surrounded by prominent geographical sites including the Mayacamas Mountains to the east, Sonoma Mountains to the west, and Sears Point just southwest of the city. It’s just over an hour drive from Burlingame, California to Sonoma making Sonoma day trips from Burlingame a great activity for the whole family.
There are numerous points of interest and historical sites in Sonoma that contribute to the city’s current culture and ambience. The Mission San Francisco Solano on 114 East Spain Street was built in 1823 and founded by Francis Solanus, a Spanish missionary. The mission was initially built as a barrier against Russia’s attempts to control Alta California. Since this time it has been a number of different establishments, including a barn, storeroom and a blacksmith shop. The Bear Flag Monument in the northeast corner of Sonoma Plaza was erected in 1846 to declare the freedom of California from Mexican rule.
Sonoma Creek flows an impressive 33.4 miles south through Sonoma, draining the waters of Mayacamas Mountains, the Sonoma Mountains and Annadel State Park. The creek comes within a mile of the famous Jack London State Historic Park, which was the home and the final resting place of the famous author, Jack London (1876-1916) and his wife. The park features a winery cottage, the ruins of the Wolf House and the House of Happy Walls, which was the house that London’s wife lived in until her death in 1955.
Sonoma is an ideal location for wineries because of its unique climate and geography. Thousands of acres in Sonoma Valley are protected from the Pacific Ocean by the Sonoma Mountains. Visit the Buena Vista Winery, the oldest commercial winery in all of California. Founded in 1857, this impressive winery produces about 100,000 cases of wine each year.
Take your little ones to the Sonoma TrainTown Railroad, located a mile south of the Sonoma Plaza. The train ride is 20 minutes, traveling through tunnels, over bridges and finally stopping in the miniature town of Lakeview, which is home to many rides and a petting zoo.
Dining in Sonoma is a real treat. Sonoma is known for its many top-rated restaurants and charming cafes. The Girl & the Fig, at 110 West Spain Street, offers extraordinary French cuisine such as Duck Confit, Fig & Arugula salads and Steak & Pork Belly sandwiches. Della Santina’s Trattoria, at 133 East Napa Street, offers authentic Italian cuisine including fresh Burrata and Mozzarella, Pappardelle with Duck and Lamb Shank. This restaurant has a gorgeous garden setting, complete with flowers, California vines and a flowing fountain.
Sonoma hosts a variety of festivals including the Historic Motorsports Festival at the Sonoma Plaza. This festival features more than 400 historic race cars, all competing in a race every May or June. Every April in the same plaza is Sonoma’s International Film Festival, which allows filmmakers and celebrities to come together to wine, dine and—of course, view fantastic films. The Olive Festival in Sonoma lasts throughout January and February every year, honoring the olive, a signature food of Sonoma Valley. This two-month celebration brings activities such as olive oil making, olive tastings and spa days (with olive scrubs!) to the residents and tourists of Sonoma.
A fun and popular event is the annual Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, which is held during the last weekend of every September in the Sonoma Plaza. It began in 1897 and is the oldest festival in all of California. This festival celebrates the harvest of Sonoma’s wine grapes. A community tradition, this festival brings residents together to taste wines and superb local food. There is also plenty of live entertainment, a Fireman’s Water Fight, parade and the annual tradition of Grape Stomping!