The Perfect 2-Day Sonoma County Road Trip Itinerary

Just 30 miles north of San Francisco sits Sonoma County, CA. And despite sharing the same name, Sonoma County does not just include the city of Sonoma. It’s so much more than that. But don’t worry, we’ll dive into it all below.

Sonoma County may be best known for its undeniable wine culture, but there’s so much more to do there than wine taste!

Besides enjoying a diverse array of wines at more than 425 wineries, you can also hike among towering redwoods, marvel at the stunning Pacific Coast and explore charming, small towns.

If you want a blend of culture, nature, wildlife, adventure, as well as great food/drink, culminating in an all-around fun weekend trip, follow our 2-day Sonoma County itinerary!

What we love most about our itinerary is that you don’t even need to take PTO time off for this one!

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What Cities Are In Sonoma County?

Sonoma County and the city of Sonoma are two different entities within California, with the county being a much larger area with multiple cities and unincorporated areas, while the city of Sonoma is JUST ONE of the cities within that county.

Sonoma (the town)

Sonoma, CA is one town within Sonoma County. It is situated in the southeastern portion of Sonoma County. Sonoma is best known for its historic town plaza, which was established in the early 19th century. You can spend many hours here exploring shops, restaurants, and historic buildings.

It’s often one of the first stops within the broader wine country region, offering wine tasting rooms, cultural events, and outdoor activities.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County is one of the state’s largest wine-producing regions. Apart from the city of Sonoma, it also includes cities like:

  • Santa Rosa
  • Guerneville
  • Petaluma
  • Rohnert Park
  • Windsor
  • Healdsburg
  • Sebastopol
  • Cloverdale
  • …and more!

Sonoma County is known for its varied landscapes, including coastal areas, vineyards, and redwood forests. Your 2-day Sonoma County road trip will take you to a bit of all these settings!

Ready? It’ll be tons of fun!

Day 1: Guerneville + Santa Rosa

Day 1 is all about outdoor adventure in Sonoma County. You’ll be spending your time in Guerneville, surrounded by woodsy natural beauty and full of rustic charm, and Santa Rosa, an up-and-coming foodie and wine destination.

Today you’ll be floating down a lazy river, getting up close and personal with towering redwoods, and exploring/dining in a few fun, quirky towns.


Guerneville, CA - Best Things To Do In Sonoma County, CA - Travels With Elle

Guerneville, CA makes for a great weekend getaway, especially if you really want to get away from it all.

This laidback area has been entertaining local vacationers since the early 1900s! Due to its proximity to San Francisco and easy railway access, the Russian River Valley (where Guerneville is situated) became a popular vacation spot in the 1920’s.

One of the best things about Guerneville is that it’s far quieter and more rugged than nearby towns like Healdsburg, Sonoma, and Napa. This makes it the perfect spot to enjoy the outdoors and truly unplug from the rest of the world!

Start by strolling down Main Street, dotted with a variety of trendy coffee shops, boutiques, art galleries, dive bars, and diners.

Don’t miss Guerneville 5 & 10, where you’ll find old-fashioned candy, vintage toys, and other fun gifts. If you’re into vintage and thrift finds, take the opportunity to peek into the various secondhand shops in town.

For lunch, we recommend boon eat+ drink (a cozy little spot offering California comfort foods with seasonal ingredients) or Brot (a modern German concept serving delicious classics in a warm Bavarian atmosphere).

Looking for something significantly more filling? Order the prime rib at Main Street Bistro & Caberet–where you come for the prime rib and stay for the live music!

Follow up your meal with a quick visit to Guerneville Bank Club, a collective retail and art gallery space featuring art shows, handcrafted pies, homemade ice cream, and curated goods.

While you’re here, you can try Chile Pies Baking Company, get handmade ice cream at Nimble & Finn’s, and explore the Russian River Historical Society all under one roof.

Guerneville Bank Club, CA - Best Things To Do In Sonoma County, CA - Travels With Elle

Another fun fact? The LGBTQ+ scene here is popping! This tucked-away town has been the go-to getaway for Bay Area LGBTQ+ weekenders for decades, earning it the nickname of the ‘Gay Riviera’.


Johnson's Beach - Guerneville, CA - Best Things To Do In Sonoma County, CA - Travels With Elle

Johnson’s Beach has been a Guerneville tradition for over 100 years. Here you can rent a chair and an umbrella, stake out your spot, and just let the day pass you by.

If you plan your weekend getaway between the months of May through September, floating in the river is one of the most refreshing and relaxing things to do in Guerneville during the summers.

Johnson’s Beach not only features the beach but also has a snack bar and watercraft rental service.

You can choose to float in rented inner tubes or get a bit more active with paddle boats or kayaks. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the snack bar for hot dogs, burgers, beer, and ice cream!


Korbel Winery Guerneville, CA - Best Things To Do In Sonoma County, CA - Travels With Elle

Korbel has been a staple of Sonoma County since 1882, when the winery was founded by the Korbel brothers. All of the sparkling wines are made in the traditional method and range from dry to sweet.

And even if you don’t want to wine taste, stop by to enjoy the lush grounds–it’s absolutely beautiful!

Educational tours of the winery and the gardens are offered daily. Winery tours last around fifty minutes and include a peek at the history museum and historic champagne cellars, followed by a tasting.

Be sure to head to the attached deli where you can get picnic fixings to pair with your tastings! We always like to wine-taste with food on the table, so buying a nice little spread in the deli was a must for us.

👉 Pro Tip: For tours and general tastings, reservations are highly recommended as they do tend to get fully booked during summer weekends.


Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve - Best Things To Do Sonoma County, CA - Travels With Elle

Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve is located just a short 5-minute drive from Guerneville but will immediately transport you to your forest dreams!

There are various hiking trails that wind through majestic sequoia trees that are over 500 years old and over 200 feet tall.

While you can drive through Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, walking through the park is the best way to experience the massive, towering redwoods. If you’re limited on time, take the Armstrong Redwoods Grove Loop Trail to experience a 1.6-mile self-guided walk in old-growth redwoods (this is an ADA-compliant trail).

FIRE CLOSURE: As of 2024, there are still some closures in this park or area due to a wildfire in 2020. For the latest information, please visit their website and note any closures.


Downtown Santa Rosa, CA - Best Things To Do In Sonoma County, CA - Travels With Elle

After exploring the Guerneville area, it’s time to move on to Santa Rosa, CA.

Surrounded by various state parks and wineries, Santa Rosa attracts both nature lovers and wine lovers. The diverse culture and local cuisine also draws art and history lovers as well as foodies.

Start with downtown Santa Rosa where you’ll find lots of coffee shops, restaurants, and breweries. We personally love getting coffee at Land And Water Coffee and ice cream at Noble Folk (cookies and cream is one of the best we’ve ever had.. and I don’t use the word ‘best’ lightly either).

This area is also a hotspot for antique, thrift, and vintage shoppers. In fact, popping into the various secondhand shops ended up being one of our favorite things to do in Santa Rosa!

While you’re here, pay attention to the Historic Railroad Square, located in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. The buildings in and surrounding the square were restored and preserved to serve as a reminder of the impact that the railroad had on Santa Rosa.

The square is home to various restaurants, shops, hotels, as well as the West End Farmer’s Market (Sundays).


Sonoma County has a long history of beer-making and was actually once known for having the best soil for hop yards.

Today, there are still a number of popular breweries standing including the Russian River Brewing Company, known for its super popular ‘Pliny the Elder’ and ‘Pliny The Younger,’ only available in February.

Russian River Brewing Company is a great spot to grab casual beers before moving on to dinner at one of the many dining options in Santa Rosa, CA.


Dinner time! There are too many good restaurants in Santa Rosa to recommend just one, so I’ve chosen my two favorites.

The Bird & The Bottle is a tapas-style bar and restaurant that features very creative, Asian fusion food. We haven’t had anything there that we didn’t love! Some of the best dishes include the smoked wild black cod, lamb meatballs, BBQ octopus, chicken skin cracklings, pastrami tacos, grilled skirt steak with trumpet mushrooms, and Mary’s smoked chicken wings.

El Coqui features traditional recipes of Puerto Rican cuisine passed down over generations. I absolutely love Puerto Rican food because of the fact that you get a plate filled with a bit of everything that comes together to give you a well-balanced meal. Try the pollo al horno–this is their signature dish and comes with rice, back beans, and fried plantain. Trust me, it’s absolutely amazing.


Noble Folk - Downtown Santa Rosa - Best Things To Do Sonoma County - Travels With Elle

Noble Folk is such a great spot to grab dessert after dining in Santa Rosa. Not only do they have unique and exquisite ice cream flavors, but they also have an assortment of homemade pies that are equally as delicious.

We opted for the homemade “Oreo” and boy was that a life-changing experience. The strawberry blueberry crumble pie paired so well with our new favorite ice cream flavor!


Cambria Hotel Sonoma Wine Country – This hotel (pictured below) is our new favorite art deco-style hotel in the area! It’s located not too far away in Rohnert Park and has a ton of awesome amenities that we enjoyed to the fullest during our last stay here. There is an on-site bar/restaurant, a heated outdoor pool, and a 24-hour fitness center (with Peloton bikes). And it’s super affordable!

Hotel E – A super stylish boutique hotel that is conveniently situated next to the town’s courtyard square. There are just 39 rooms, all with designer toiletries and premium bedding. Parking is either valet or street parking.


Day 2: Sonoma

Your second day will bring you slightly east of Guerneville and Santa Rosa, CA. You’re headed to Sonoma, CA!

Known for its laidback vibe (well, at least compared to Napa Valley), acclaimed food and wine, relaxing spas and historic charm, Sonoma offers both a blast-from-the-past and wine-country experience like no other.


Cafe Scooteria - Best Things To Do In Sonoma, CA - Travels With Elle

Good morning, Sonoma, CA! Let’s start the day off with some drive-thru coffee. Cafe Scooteria is Sonoma’s only true full-service drive-thru coffee cart.

This spot is unique and well-loved by locals in Sonoma, creatively serving traditional Italian-style coffee within a vintage scooter shop.

There is no real menu, you simply order what you want and they make it! You can either pull up in your whip (baristas will come to take your order) or get out and stand in line yourself. They’ll serve you both ways — scooter not required.


It’s time to move on to food now; start the day right with some California-style breakfast! Head to Sunflower Caffé, one of the best places to enjoy stellar coffee drinks, breakfast, and lunch on their beautiful garden patio.

Sunflower Caffé is committed to buying produce from local and organic farms, which means the food tastes that much better. How it works: You order in the front and then they seat you. The food and service are beyond excellent!

Pro Tip: They don’t take reservations and there’s always a line (on weekends especially), so head there early or be prepared to wait your turn.


Sonoma Plaza - Sonoma County Weekend Getaway - Travels With Elle

After breaking your fast, it’s time to burn off some of those calories. There’s no better way to do that than strolling along the historic Sonoma Plaza.

Sonoma Plaza offers a postcard-perfect start to your adventures. It’s a pedestrian paradise, so park your car and get to exploring!

There are so many local boutiques, tasting rooms, hotels, bars, restaurants, home decor shops, olive oil shops, and more dotted along the square. Our favorite stores include Figone’s Olive Oil, Sign of the Bear, Chateau Sonoma, and The Corner Store.

If you’re in need of gifts, home decor, or kitchenware, you’re going to love shopping in Sonoma Plaza!

After you’re done perusing, snacking, and shopping, enjoy the greenery at the spacious park located in the middle of the plaza.


Finally, some wine tasting in wine country! Spend a few hours exploring the different wineries near Sonoma, including the picturesque Viansa Winery, Robledo Winery, and Roche Winery (some of our top recommendations).

If you’d rather stay within the town to wine taste, you can choose from many tasting rooms that are either located within Sonoma Plaza or just steps away from the main square.


Sonoma County State Historic Park

If you’re up for a little dose of history, there are a couple of places nearby that you might find interesting, especially if you want to learn more about California’s mission history.

First off, there’s the Sonoma State Historic Park. It’s right in the heart of downtown Sonoma and has a bunch of neat buildings to check out.

One of the highlights of the historic park is the Mission San Francisco Solano. It’s the last of the 21 missions established in California during the Spanish colonial period. You can wander around the mission grounds, see the chapel, and get a sense of what life was like back in the 1800s.

After that, swing by the Sonoma Barracks (located just steps away from the Mission). The barracks were built by the Mexican government in the early 19th century and later used by the US Army. Now it’s a museum where you can learn about the area’s military history and see some cool artifacts from the past.

Another really charming historic landmark to stop by while you’re on the State Historic Park grounds is the Toscano Hotel & Kitchen.

Peeping in, you can see old gaming tables and a stocked bar in the communal room, as well as stairs leading upstairs to the guestrooms. It looks just like an old-timey movie set!

👉 Looking for more museums? Nearby, there’s also the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. While it’s not focused specifically on California history, it often has exhibits that showcase different aspects of Sonoma’s rich cultural heritage.


El Molino Central - Sonoma County Weekend Getaway - Travels With Elle

At this point, I’m sure you’ve worked up an appetite. Look no further than El Molino Central, one of our favorite spots (like, ever) for regional Mexican food!

We first discovered El Molino Central after falling in love with Primavera’s mole tamales at the SF Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.

After finding out that there was another nearby establishment serving Karen Taylor Waikiki’s delicious food, we knew we’d be going back to El Molino for years to come. Whenever we visit Sonoma, we HAVE to stop by El Molino Central.

The true stars of Primavera and El Molino Central are their tamales, quesadillas, and tacos — all made with fresh masa. The food is truly melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness!

If you’re stuck on what to order, we like the chicken mole tamales, pork tamales, the chile relleno plate, or the fish/shrimp tacos. Better yet, get all of it.

Pro Tip: On Saturday mornings from 10-11am only, you can grab their iconic plate of chilaquiles!


La Michoacana Sonoma, CA - Best Things To Do In Sonoma County, CA - TravelsWithElle

Looking to cool down from the warm Sonoma County weather? After dining at El Molino Central, drive south a few blocks to La Michoacana for a delightful frozen treat.

You can’t miss their colorful little shop as you drive down the Sonoma Highway. The building is painted in bright, festive colors and has an extremely welcoming atmosphere.

Once inside, explore the various ice cream flavors, paletas (fruit bars), bolis (ice pops), and mangonada cups (sweet and spicy mango cups).

Since we tend to enjoy popsicles more than ice cream in hot weather, we opted for the tamarind and guanabana paletas, which cost about $3 each. If you find yourself really enjoying your frozen treat as you scarf it down outside the storefront, grab a new flavor for the road!

La Michoacana Sonoma, CA - Best Things To Do In Sonoma County, CA - TravelsWithElle


For those on the lookout for unique fashion finds, Sonoma County has many treasure troves of secondhand delights. Even when we’re not on the lookout for any specific home decor or article of clothing, we still love browsing through thrift stores. You never know what you’ll find!

Some of our favorite shops in Sonoma include Plain Jane’s and Republic of Thrift, both selling an assortment of items at really affordable prices (unlike various other consignment and antique shops with eye-gouging prices).


Safari West Santa Rosa CA - Best Things To Do In Napa Valley - TravelsWithElle

Although Sonoma County may best be known for its wine culture, it’s also home to Safari West, a 400-acre wildlife reservation in Santa Rosa where visitors can actual experience a slice of Africa without the steep safari tour prices or a plane ticket!

This wildlife safari is nicknamed the “Sonoma Serengeti”, allowing you to see animals such as cheetahs, oryx, gazelle, wildebeest, and giraffes. The property houses over 900 exotic animals and offers year-round tours and even overnight stays.

Safari West offers a 3-hour safari ride for you and your family to enjoy. If you’d like to experience a little bit more, there is a behind-the-scenes walking tour that takes you around the preserve and gets you up close and personal with some of the animals.

If you’re looking for an even more immersive experience, you can opt for the nighttime safari to encounter all the nocturnal animals. You’ll need to book at least a few weeks in advance for the best tour times.

👉 Pro Tip: Safari West offers a 4pm afternoon tour and can be done in the late afternoon after your Sonoma exploration, or early the next morning (the first tour is at 9am). If you can swing it, we recommend staying the night, sleeping among the animals, glamping in a luxury tent cabin at Safari West! They have rooms with bunk beds for the kids and on-site wine tastings for the adults.



The Lodge At Sonoma Resort – This is where you go when you want some luxurious R&R. The Lodge at Sonoma is an Autograph Collection resort and spa. All 182 rooms offer things like pillow menus and bathrobes, and there is a full-service spa, outdoor pool, fitness center, bar/lounge, coffee shop, and a snack bar on the property.

El Dorado Hotel – El Dorado Hotel is perfect for travelers who want to experience the rustic charm of wine country but still crave that downtown bustle. This 27-room boutique hotel is situated smack dab on Sonoma Square, so you can easily balance your itinerary with vineyard hopping, dining, post-wine napping, and exploring the town. Attached is a very popular restaurant, making your stay even more convenient!

Safari West – For a more rugged yet bucketlist stay, opt to do an overnight stay at Safari West after your safari tour! Safari West offers decorated tent cabins that’ll immediately transport you to Africa. They have a restaurant, a bar/lounge, and even spa services.

And with that, your 2-day Sonoma County itinerary comes to an end! If you find yourself wanting to do more, check out our 3-day Sonoma County itinerary instead. We also have a 4-day Napa and Sonoma road trip itinerary as well.

I hope you enjoyed this post, featuring some of the best things to do in Sonoma County! Drop me a comment if you have any questions at all about this itinerary.

And if you completed a trip of your own, what were some of your favorite things to do in Sonoma County?

Want More Wine Country Travel Tips? Read More:

33 Exciting Things To Do In Napa Valley Besides Wine Tasting

The Perfect 3-Day Napa Valley Honeymoon Itinerary

8 Best Luxury Hotels In Downtown Napa, California

The Ultimate Guide To Oxbow Public Market In Napa, California

The Ultimate San Francisco To Portland Road Trip: 50+ Stops You Need To Make In Between

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Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

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