Unusual and Tasty finds in Sonoma County
Motoring along patchworks of vineyards, orchards and oak trees we naturally gravitated away from the typical hotspots of Sonoma County and found ourselves drawn to the not so obvious and slightly quirky.
Napa put California on the world’s viticulture map but its fame and fortune have made its upscale and somewhat ‘snobby tourist’ mark (of course with the exception of a few James Dean like characters). Sonoma seems truer and filled with open minded traditions cultivated by people who appreciate the low-key charm.
With beautiful historic towns, boutiques, art galleries and more wine than you can possibly taste and remember; it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But rather than caving to the standard hotspots and big production wineries (they’re still worthy of a visit) why not take a different route, get off the main highway and see what you find? We had a whirl wind tour of Sonoma County and ended up with some very unusual and tasty finds.
Our tour of Sonoma County truly started when we met up with our new friend Gerald from Bpinot-Bybee Vineyards in Sebastopol. When he jumped on our facebook page offering up wine and dinner, we didn’t dare turn him down! He turned out to be a super fascinating person with loads of passion for Sebastopol and its people. Gerald gave us the local’s tour and there were some definite standouts!
The Kefiry is the most unique soda shop we have ever experienced! A couple of locals are serving up the very first live-cultured soda sold in America. It’s fermented, its water, its lactose free kefir, its tasty and beyond fascinating. Grab a Lemon Ginger Ale, pull up a seat and prepare to learn more about water than you ever imagined!
Screamin’ Mimi’s ice cream is a local staple and you won’t want to make it out of town without at least one scoop in you.
Hardcore Espresso is a sparsely held together, somewhat outdoors coffee shop that isn’t really for tourist or potentially anyone with a tidy shirt. Its cash only and one of the quirkiest coffee shops we’ve ever been too outside of burning man. If you’re in the area now you must visit NOW!!! The little shop might move locations…and we just can’t imagine it will be able to keep it’s dilapidated charm.
Renga Arts is far from your typical art gallery. They produce and sell art made from reclaimed, salvaged, and recycled materials. If Tim Burton had a comic strip about junk yard characters, this is what they would look like. If you don’t make your way to the main shop, just take a drive through the neighborhood streets and you’ll see plenty of it as yard art. It’s so cool to see a community embrace an artist like this.
This may be a tiny town of just over 200 but it has some creepy Hollywood history that makes it worth the drive. Bodega is home to the Saint Teresa of Avila Church and the Bodega schoolhouse.
The white, wooden church was built by shipbuilders in 1859 and is the oldest church in continuous use in Sonoma County. But what makes the church and the Bodega schoolhouse next door so interesting is Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds. Do you remember the scary scene where all the kids were running away from the school and taking refuge in the Church?
Don’t worry; we didn’t see any crows while we were there, so I think you’re safe to visit.
With a mix of swanky digs, stylish boutiques, charming small-town stores and gorgeous countryside, Healdsburg is hard to resist. And while this may be disappointing to some, the only tastings we did in this adorable town had nothing to do with wine.
Moustache Baked Goods had us wrapped around their little whisk from the moment we caught a whiff outside the door. Gazing at our options from behind the glass and annoying other patrons with our inability to decide on a flavor, we felt the pressure and settled on the never fail choice of chocolate. We walked out of the shop taking one bite each, immediately turned around and went back to purchase two additional cupcakes. Just when we thought perfection was an unachievable goal, a few cupcakes (and a few calories) proved us wrong!
Flying Goat Coffee was just the natural progression after such indulgence. Espresso was the only hope of curing our sugar crash. The espresso is smooth, the baristas are Suave and their black gold gave us a jolt along with a false sense of metabolism that almost had us convinced to go back for another cupcake.
The town of Cloverdale is just at the tail end of Sonoma County and is a blast on a Friday afternoon. We suggest starting with a little happy hour action at Ruth McGowan’s Brewpub, then strolling along main street farmers market and enjoying the free music in the square. Sorry, we don’t have photos beyond happy hour; we kinda got lost in the moment.
Camping along The Russian River
The Russian River campground was appropriately along the Russian River and the perfect base camp for the last of our Sonoma County adventures. I would like to say that we motivated ourselves to do more than just float the river and enjoy the shade of the trees, but we didn’t.
So, that’s it, that is our whirl wind tour through Sonoma County. Have you been? Did you find some of the same interesting places or did we miss something grand?
Disclaimer: While we were compensated to film the campground (thanks Thousand Trails!)…all of our experiences and opinions are NOT purchased and are still our own.
Dr. Victoria Sonstegard
Petaluma! Cool river town with a real downtown full of farm-to-table restaurants. Home to wineries and its own future viticultural designation along with Lagunitas Brewery. On the cheese trail with farms that supply cheese to restaurants in the City and only 30 miles or about 20 minutes to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Aargh! You went to CLOVERDALE but not to Guerneville??
You were so close…if you’d taken 116 out to the coast instead, you would have driven right through it, then out to Jenner, then you could have gone down the coast to Bodega and right back to Sebastopol in one big circle.
No one should get to say they’ve been to the Russian River without visiting my old beloved funky river rat town (moved away 11 years ago), the playground for San Franciscans in the 50’s, then home to the hippies, now gentrified by a large gay population. Take Armstrong Woods road just a couple of miles up to the beautiful Armstrong Woods, home of an old grove of Coast Redwoods, a species only found along the northern coast of Calif and nowhere else in the world.
Totally agree with Karen. If you mised Guerneville you missed the best part of the Russian River!
Chocolate Cupcakes…Oh you had me at that very moment! They looked delicious…and then you went to a coffee place….now I am wanting to visit Sonoma Country.
Then you had to show me the river….YEP I am loving that place 🙂
Lisa, one year we are going to get you to the states to see it all for yourself! P.S. Love the new updates to your website, looks great!
Really wish we could have been in Sonoma with you guys!
Hunter it seems you’re too busy making babies…I mean creating a family 🙂 We love you anytime we drink wine we think of you…so you’re technically there in spirit!
Great post guys! I lived in Napa for a spell and go out a few times a year. Heading out again soon, and just passed this link to this to my gal pals who live in Napa/Sonoma. Ahhh…wine country and travel..:)
Here’s to the road!
Diane, we’re right there with you…here’s to good wine and travel!
Hi Jason and Nikki. Whats your itinerary for Vancouver area? We live in the area and if possible would like to catch up with you at one of your presentations.
We’re crossing the border on Tuesday or Wednesday and we’ll be doing some media Wednesday and Thursday AM, then speaking at the show Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I believe the presentation schedule is online: http://www.rvshowsbc.com/indexs4.htm
We’d love to meet up, catch us after we speak or join us for a beer after the show. See you soon.
It would be nice if you documented telephone reception at each resort. Our bias is AT&T and in some of our visits as full-timers we went without! Love your site. Keep up the fun!!
Fred, the first 2 years Jason kept his AT&T phone, and I switched to Verizon. The majority of the time my Verizon phone worked, and many times I’d have service and Jason’s AT&T phone had zero! So this year Jason cancelled AT&T and started a Verizon family plan. Difficult for him to lose his Grandfathered Unlimited Data plan, but reception is king for us.
Make sure you check out our post on Staying Connected on the Road.