A little over 30 miles north of Corte Madera is Sonoma. Sonoma is known for being the short-lived capital of the California Republic for 26 days in 1846, but more recently it has become know as the heart of the California wine industry and the host of the Sonoma International Film Festival which is held in April every year.
Sonoma is surrounded by the Mayacamas Mountains to the east, the Sonoma Mountains to the west and Sears Point southwest of the city. About a 40-minute drive from Corte Madera, a Sonoma day trip is easy way to explore the area with the entire family.
With various points of interest and several historical sites, Sonoma is great place to soak in culture and enjoy the Northern California wine country ambience. You can do this best at the Mission San Francisco Solano at 114 East Spain Street. This mission was built in 1823 and was founded by Spanish missionary Francis Solanus. Built as a barrier against Russian colony attempts, the mission has acted as several different establishments, including a storeroom, blacksmith shop and barn. Then there is the Bear Flag Monument in the northeast corner of Sonoma Plaza near the mission. This monument was erected in 1846 to declare California’s independence from Mexico.
While in Sonoma, you can also see Sonoma Creek, which flows 33.4 miles through Sonoma and near Jack London State Historic Park, which was the famous author’s home and now his final resting place. The park features the ruins of the Wolf House, a winery cottage and the House of Happy Walls, where London’s wife lived until her death in 1955. The author himself lived from 1876 to 1916.
Due to this region’s unique climate and geography, Sonoma is an ideal location for wineries, with thousands of acres protected by the Sonoma Mountains from the weather of the Pacific. If you’re going to pick on winery to visit in this area, try the Buena Vista Winery, which is the oldest one in the entire state. It was founded in 1857 and still produces about 100,000 cases every year.
Also make sure to take your children to the Sonoma TrainTown Railroad a mile south of the plaza. The kids will love the 20-minute ride through tunnels, over bridges and into the miniature town of Lakeview, which has several rides and petting zoo.
The dining in Sonoma is sublime, so don’t worry about packing a lunch for your day trip. Featuring many top-of-the-line restaurants and cafes with charm, you have your choice for lunch and dinner. Try the Girl & the Fig at 110 West Spain Street. This restaurant offers amazing French cuisine, including duck confit, fig and arugula salad and steak and pork belly sandwiches. Della Santina’s Trattoria at 133 East Napa Street is another good choice. This Italian trattoria offers delicious cuisine, from burrata and mozzarella to pappardelle with duck and lamb shank, and allows you to eat in a garden setting with flowers, vines and a fountain.
If you’re planning a trip to Sonoma, you should plan it around one of the city’s great festivals, including the Historic Motorsports Festival at Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma’s International Film Festival, the Olive Festival and the Moon Vintage Festival. Taking place throughout late spring, summer and early fall, these festivals provide you and your family with even more ways to make lasting memories of unique experiences.