17 Tips for the Best Summer in Sonoma

Sonoma County, the blissfully laid-back sister of affluent Napa Valley, is notable because of its down-to-earth rustic ambiance and outstanding farm-to-table cuisine. Being the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine and the redwoods landscape, this haven compels you to slow down, bond with nature, and simply rejuvenate.
It goes without saying that you can never regret choosing to spend your summer in Sonoma County, California. It’s no wonder that Sonoma Valley real estate, and the real estate of the surrounding areas, is so coveted. Here are 17 tips on how to best enjoy your time in the area.

1. River riding

Summer is the perfect season to go kayaking or kayak sailing on the Russian River; however, the right way to do so is up for discussion. One of the best options is to start at Steelhead Beach in Forestville and finish at Sunset Beach.
Although the two-mile section may not appear to be much on a chart, it takes 3 to 4 hours to complete at the river's slow summer tempo. We advocate arriving early and bringing two automobiles (one for each beach). Do not, however, overlook having some sunscreen, and pack plenty of water to stay hydrated.

2. Share your squeezebox passion

The squeezebox goes on even though polka is no longer alive. Every year, aficionados of this accordion flock to La Plaza Park for the Cotati Accordion Fest, where they can sing their hearts out. This concert honors Jim Boggio, who spent years performing with polka king Frank Yankovic. Learners, novices, and professionals are all encouraged to explore their musical passions, and a love for the accordion is fostered in all festival participants, including the countless inquisitive onlookers.

3. Visit the Stumptown Bar

Following your Russian River float adventure, where do you go for a beer or a burger? Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville is the best spot to satisfy your appetite. This bar, located somewhere outside downtown, has a riverside terrace providing access to the beach beneath. Its beach bar operates throughout the summer, and you can walk your dog there, provided you keep it on a leash.

4. Splash around in Spring Lake

Photo courtesy of Real Sonoma
During the summer, an inflatable playground glides peacefully on the surface of Spring Lake's lagoons, where throngs of children bounce, rock, and scramble on the slick maze of trampolines, bridges, or slides. When all that jumping is not enough, the kids can go swimming, windsurfing, or wading.

5. Celebrate the 4th of July

For the annual 4th of July celebration, it’s common for the Santa Rosa Symphony to team up with the Transcendence Theater Group for an evening of feisty power ballads and patriotic masterpieces. Often occurring right on July 4th, this musical celebration kicks off the Summer at the Green concert series, put on by the Green Music Center. This famous Independence Day ceremony offers a variety of family entertainment, featuring kids' programs, lawn picnics, and a twilight fireworks display. Families should attend early to reap the benefits of the Kids Zone and establish their picnic location.

6. Drink sangria under the stars

Bravas Bar De Tapas
, located in Healdsburg and called “one of the top 20 restaurants in the U.S.” by Travel + Leisure magazine, has an expansive covered patio. This covered dining space has become a haven for residents who go there on summer nights to sip sangria, devour platters of Iberico ham, and appreciate the laid-back atmosphere.

7. Jam in the woods

The annual Old Grove Fest at Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve is unlike any other music event because nature surrounds it. Each year, acoustic, bluegrass, or even rock artists serenade surrounding wildlife on a podium overshadowed by gigantic redwood trees.

8. Go to the pool party!

The Francis Ford Coppola Winery has a roomy tasting bar featuring two magnificent, family-friendly swimming pools, so visitors can combine pool time with winery drinking. After working up an appetite through swimming, you may order meals from the poolside cafe, or you can go inside to marvel at the vast collection of movie memorabilia, eat at the full-service restaurant, and/or take part in wine tasting before returning to the patio for a game of bocce. Currently, pool use is available exclusively to those who make Cabine reservations, and other events like wine tasting require separate reservations, which are best made in advance.

9. Enjoy bliss in the vineyard

Photo courtesy of Sonoma Valley!
The Gundlach Bundschu Winery puts on an annual summer music event in Sonoma, the Huichica Music Festival. This event attracts visitors from all over the world and features epic vineyard views, a lineup of both big-name and rising musicians, Gundlach Bundschu’s estate-grown wines, and culinary talent from all around the Bay Area.

10. Soak in healing waters

In Glen Ellen, Morton's Warm Springs is a spectacular summer treasure. This geothermal spring is located amongst a canopy of oaks and rolling hills, making it a lovely spot to while away a beautiful afternoon. Two mineral pools, an outdoor wading pool for children, picnicking and grilling areas, and lawn games — including ping-pong — are all available on these premises.

11. Improve your cooking skills

To put the abundance of fresh food and fish from Sonoma's fertile land and coastal waters to mastery at the summer table, try visiting Ramekins Culinary School in Sonoma for private or public summer cooking classes. Led by seasoned chefs, these classes always end with you enjoying the fruits of your labors.

12. Make a leap of faith

What is Sonoma County's view from above? See it from 9,000 feet off the ground. Cloverdale’s Norcal Skydiving offers unparalleled skydiving experiences with qualified instructors and unbeatable views. From both the plane and the dive, you might see several landscapes, ranging from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. If you skydive, then it has to be above Wine Country on a bright summer morning.

13. Go beach bumming

Cruising along Highway 1 with the windows down and music blasting should be enough to brighten anyone's day. However, what is even nicer is pulling onto one of several beach coves along the Sonoma Coast with your picnic essentials. Russian Gulch, a pebbly beach slightly north of Jenner, remains the favorite. It is advisable to avoid swimming here because of powerful rip currents. However, the spectacular 120-foot cliffs that flank the beach provide an almost unrivaled perspective. Wright's Beach, a sand beach to the south, is another good option with better accessibility.

14. Gaze skyward

Whenever the sun sets on Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, the Robert Ferguson Observatory gets busy. Come here to enjoy the nonprofit's summer evening sky programs. These programs cover all categories of stargazers, and you can attend singly or as a group.
In one program, participants explore a range of summer constellations while getting to know their respective mythology. Afterward, the observatory’s telescopes can be used to look more closely at the stars.

15. Make a wave

The greatest way to appreciate the beauty of the Sonoma Coast's water should be to immerse oneself in it. And, with some aid from the people at the Bodega Bay Surf Shack, this is made easy. The shack offers both communal and private surf lessons, both of which run about 2.5 hours. Skimboards, surfboards, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboards are also rentable.

16. Unwind in a wine-storage cave

It is a great idea to plunge into a wine cave whenever the temperature rises above 90 degrees. The atmosphere throughout the 12,000-square-foot cave at Hamel Family Wines in Sonoma ranges from around 55 to 60 degrees. Tour the cave and adjacent winery, learn about winemaking practices and partake in a seated wine tasting experience. While tasting, enjoy views of Sonoma Mountain.

17. Get your engine buzzing!

Does drag racing appeal to you? You could be a blazing rock star on the asphalt even if you operate a Camaro, a Ford Focus, or perhaps a Volvo wagon with a baby seat. Drags & Drift at Sonoma Raceway — a controlled environment for patrons to drag race and/or drift their cars — does not even require a powerful machine.
Simply show up on a Wednesday evening and choose your slot for a blast of heated adrenaline provided by screeching brakes, timed runs, and possibly a prize. You may also test your drifting abilities by sliding sideways through a special loop or spinning around the donut pad.

Work with one of the top Sonoma real estate agents

Sonoma is a paradise during all seasons — not just summer, and the numbered list of things to do there doesn’t stop at 17. If this place sounds like the perfect location for your future home, consider contacting Kathleen Leonard. At Kathleen Leonard Real Estate, we excel in negotiating sales and purchases of extraordinary properties in Northern California's Wine Country. Our enthusiasm for this region is reflected in how we market Sonoma Valley homes for sale and in how we match our homebuyers with those houses they come to call home. Contact Kathleen Leonard today to let us help you relocate to the Wine Country and start living it up.

Work With Us

Their passion for this place shows in their enthusiastic marketing of their client’s homes, and when it comes to finding a piece of this paradise for their buyers. Come to the Wine Country and enjoy the good life. Kathleen and her team are here to help you make your move.