Living in California, we know we’re a little spoiled. Mild weather and beautiful scenery make it a great location to get the most out of our Winnebago Vista. We love to explore the beauty of our home state, and especially one of our favorite destinations: Sonoma County.
Located in the heart of the North Bay, just a short distance from San Francisco to the south or Napa Valley to the north, Sonoma is a great place to set up home base and explore the area. There is no shortage of awesome places to stay and things to see in the area and we’d like to share a few of our favorites with you.
Where to Stay
Sonoma County boasts some really great RV parks. Whether it’s Porto Bodega Marina and RV Park, which allows you to stay right along Bodega Bay, or somewhere a little more kid friendly like the North San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA. You can find RV parks which put you within arms reach of so many of the must-see sites nearby.
On our last trip, we stayed at the above-mentioned KOA. This is a large campground with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a KOA. Complete with a pool, jump pillow and giant playground. It is definitely one of our kids’ favorite spots.
In the warmer months, you will also find plenty of organized activities, including kids karaoke, arts and crafts, and hayrides. We find it to be a great way to balance full days of exploring with plenty of relaxation and playtime for the kids.
Places to Eat, Drink & Explore
Bodega / Bodega Bay
This is one of our favorite destinations when visiting Sonoma. During the 30-minute drive from Petaluma (where the KOA is located) toward the coast, you will encounter some of the North Bay’s most beautiful scenery – abundant with rolling hills and rustic farmhouses.
Just a few miles inland from Bodega Bay, lies the quaint town of Bodega. Fun fact: this is where Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ was filmed. You may recognize some of the scenery from the film. However, you don’t need to be a movie buff to enjoy the area. And if you’re looking for some fun, you can reenact a scene just like we did.
Sebastopol /Florence Ave
As you continue driving inland, you will find the small town of Sebastopol. A charming downtown with shops and restaurants make it a great place to stop for lunch or a cup of coffee. What really got our attention was Florence Avenue. This residential area showcases the works of urban folk artists Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent.
Their “junk art” is displayed in front yards throughout the neighborhood. Made from recycled materials, they bring a wonderful sense of whimsy to the street. As we walked with our kids, we came across an array of sculptures – everything from Babe Ruth and Batman to the Three Little Pigs and the Wicked Witch – and couldn’t wait to see what was waiting for us at the next house.
When visiting this area, we will often try and squeeze in a visit to the Napa Valley. With beautiful wineries and award-winning restaurants, there is no shortage of places to eat, drink and take in the breathtaking scenery. Our most recent visit was in November, which we learned is one of the busiest times of year due to crush season (when grapes are harvested and wine production kicks in). While navigating the crowds was a surprise, the spectacular colors of the fall foliage more than made up for it.
For those traveling with kids, don’t worry. More and more we’re seeing kid-friendly locations where parents can enjoy a glass of wine (responsibly) while kids can run around and enjoy the fresh air. Our favorite is V. Sattui in St. Helena, which features a deli with a large selection of meats, cheeses, wines, and all the fixings you might need to enjoy a picnic on their beautiful grounds.
If a cold beer is more your speed, you’ll love the selection of breweries and beer gardens in Sonoma. Breweries like Russian River Brewing Co. and Lagunitas have pubs and tap rooms where you can have lunch and a brew.
You may not think breweries and kids would go together, but the Lagunitas brewery makes it easy for families (even those with small kids) to enjoy. Their Petaluma taproom has a wide-open ground with food, drinks and live music on most nights. Our kids loved dancing to music while mom and dad enjoyed a cold beer (again, responsibly). Pro tip: Many breweries also offer brewery tours, but you’ll want to book ahead and confirm age requirements.
Trips to Sonoma County and the surrounding area have become a favorite for our family. Beautiful scenery, breathtaking coastlines, art, culture, and plentiful wineries and breweries offer something we can all enjoy. During your next visit to Northern California, we encourage you to stop and explore for a bit. You will be glad you did!
Keep up with Karen & David’s latest adventures on Instagram @thecampingplaylist