The Guide to a Relaxed Wine Country Honeymoon in Sonoma

Take in the spectacular scenery of Northern California.
Vineyards of Sonoma Wine County
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Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
by
Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
The Knot Contributor
  • Dina writes for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in food, travel and relationships.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in service journalism, she also pens articles and recipes for publications, such as Good Housekeeping, Parents, SELF, Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Fine Cooking, Weight Watchers and Diabetic Living.
  • Dina graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and The Institute of Cul...
Updated Dec 13, 2021

A Sonoma Valley honeymoon is a romantic choice for couples. The California county, located 30 miles north of San Francisco, boasts rugged coastlines, manicured vineyards, majestic redwoods and green rolling hills.

It's also reputable for top fine dining options. Sonoma County wows with 425 wineries and more than 500 restaurants, many highlighting locally-sourced ingredients. It's why foodies and nature-loving couples are encouraged to head to this famed wine region for their romantic getaway.

Is Sonoma Good for a Honeymoon?

Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon
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Along with a beautiful setting and award-winning food and wine, the Bay Area is known for its laid-back vibe—especially when compared to its neighbor Napa Valley. Sonoma Wine Country is considered less crowded and more budget-friendly. Here, couples can sip cabernet or chardonnay at family-run wineries, while hiking, biking, and indulging in spa treatments in large pockets of seclusion.

Pros of a Sonoma Honeymoon

In Sonoma, the activity offerings are endless, says Lauren Grubbs of Lauren Grubbs Travel Co. Newlyweds can book a wildlife safari, vineyard hop, shop at boutiques in charming small towns, exercise on various trails, or relax in a hot tub.

As an added plus, Sonoma Valley is easily accessible. Couples simply need to fly into Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport (STS) in Santa Rosa. Or, they can catch flights into San Francisco (SFO) or Oakland (OAK). Reco Trip Designer Christina Turrini even points out that Alaska Airlines offers a perk to its mileage plan members: the ability to check an entire case of wine for free.

Once on the ground, rent a car so you can fully explore Sonoma Wine Country. After five or seven days of exploration, then head over to Napa Valley (stopping in Yountville, Calistoga, and St. Helena).

Cons of a Sonoma Honeymoon

Since the summer months can be busy, book early if you plan to honeymoon, suggests Turrini. This includes reserving hotel rooms, booking tables at exclusive restaurants, and scheduling wine tastings or excursions. Grubbs adds that wildfires can be an issue between July and October, so be prepared for any last-minute itinerary changes.

The Best Times of Year to Go on a Sonoma Honeymoon

Sonoma Valley is a year-round destination and can accommodate honeymooners all four seasons. That said, May through September is peak season, says Turrini, offering sunshine—but also higher hotel prices and more people. September and October bring the excitement of the grape harvest, along with the beauty of colorful foliage.

Find your kind of venue

From barns to ballrooms, discover reception venues that feel like you.

Places to Visit in Sonoma

Lake Sonoma, Dry Creek Arm
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Downtown Sonoma and Healdsburg

These two towns feature large central squares, says Grubbs, who recommends devoting afternoons to local exploration. Dine across establishments, visit cozy boutiques, and sample wine at the various tasting rooms. Don't miss the 19th-century Mission San Francisco Solano in downtown Sonoma.

Lake Sonoma Recreation Area

Pick up provisions at the nearby Dry Creek General Store, then head to the South Lake Trailhead for a picnic. Take in views of Lake Sonoma as you enjoy an outdoor lunch.

Matanzas Creek Winery

In the late spring, visit this winery to see the lavender fields in full bloom. For the most jaw-dropping views while you're there, book a Mountaintop Tasting for a splurge with your sweetie.

BobDog Wines & Sky Pine Vineyards

Head to Sonoma's highest elevation winery, which is 2,000 feet above Alexander Valley. Hike and enjoy tastings of zinfandel, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon.

Things to Do During a Sonoma Honeymoon

Women Hiking Along Ocean Cliff Trails in Bodega Bay
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Visit Wineries

For the ultimate California Wine Country experience, hit the vineyards. Experience winery tasting rooms, which offer cheese and charcuterie pairings. Wine lovers will relish chatting with winemakers and asking questions about the production process.

Grubbs recommends hiring a driver and devoting a couple of full days to wine tasting, scheduling two to three winery visits per day. Consider purchasing a Sonoma County Tasting Pass, which offers tasting flights, discounts, and more at local wineries, craft breweries, cideries, and micro-distilleries.

Choose wineries to visit depending on the types of wine you want to taste and whether spots offer scenic views or noteworthy architecture. For instance, to sip sparkling wines on a terrace overlooking grapevines, stop by Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma. For Cabernet Sauvignon, consider the Kunde Family Winery, Rodney Strong Vineyards, and Chateau St. Jean.

To luxuriate, check out Ledson Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood. Buy lunch at the on-site deli and picnic under the oak trees. If you swing by the Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg, book the Estate Tour & Tasting. At Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, check out the director's movie memorabilia.

Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

See the vineyards and Sonoma Coast from the sky. Most hot air balloon rides launch in the early morning, with trips lasting 45 minutes to one hour for splendid views of the entire valley.

Book a Safari

Start a Sonoma stay with a stop at Safari West, Turrini suggests. "You can overnight in tented cabins and wake up to strolling flamingos before you board your Jeep Safari tour," she says. If you'd rather not stay the night, go on a daytime excursion to see some of the 900 animals on the 400-acre preserve.

Enjoy a Top-Rated Restaurant

Couples will want to book far in advance to experience the Michelin three-star SingleThread Farm Restaurant & Inn in Healdsburg. This award-winning spot offers an 11-course tasting menu inspired by Japan, all tailored to guests' dietary preferences. Grubbs also recommends the brand-new Matheson, also in Healdsburg, and El Dorado Kitchen, the Glen Ellen Star and El Molino Central in Sonoma.

Hike and Bike

Work up a sweat at Jack London State Park or Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Couples can rent bikes and explore the backroads of the Sonoma Valley for a romantic fitness outing.

Best Hotels in Sonoma for a Honeymoon

Sonoma County, California
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The Montage, Healdsburg

This luxury resort is set amidst hundreds of acres of oak trees and vineyards. Couples can explore the grounds on complimentary bikes, visit the spa or pools, and dine at the restaurant.

Farmhouse Inn in Forestville

A family-owned property, this 25-room boutique hotel houses a Michelin-star restaurant, handmade soap bars, and evening wine tastings. The luxurious and comfortable guest rooms include fireplaces, deep soaking tubs, steam showers and heated bathroom floors.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

Check into this nearly 100-year-old, AAA Four-Diamond resort, which boasts geothermal-fed mineral pools, a bar and multiple restaurants. Consider splurging on a room with a wood-burning fireplace and a jacuzzi tub. Truly indulge by booking massages at the on-site spa.

What to Pack for a Sonoma Honeymoon

Bring layers, since mornings and evenings can be chilly, even in the summer, says Grubbs. Since the area is casual, you don't need to worry about toting dressy or ultra-stylish attire, she adds. Remember walking shoes (cute boots) for vineyard strolls and bathing suits for spas, Turrini suggests. Since wineries ship their bottles to most US states, there's no need to allocate extra luggage space to your take-home treasures.

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