Often standing in the shadows of Napa, Sonoma provides a more laid-back, small town vibe than its more popular neighbor. Anchoring the Sonoma Valley, the town makes a good jumping-off point for exploring nearby wineries, including the few dozen in town. The town also has important California historical sights as well as a charming town square.
As you head north, you’ll find a number of small, family-owned wineries and charming small towns. Glen Ellen, outside of Sonoma, is a town right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. At the valley’s north end, Santa Rosa is the workaday urban center known mostly for its traffic. If you’ve more than one day, explore the quieter, rustic side of Sonoma County, which extends along the Russian River Valley from Healdsburg to the sea.