We love traveling in the “off” season! It’s often the quieter time with shorter lines for reservations, less crowded trails and tasting rooms, more access to attractions, and sales! But, this can mean traveling when it’s raining. Don’t despair - Sonoma County is fabulous in the rain! We’re sharing some of our favorite rainy day activities, but there are so many more things to do while you’re here no matter the season or weather. And if you need suggestions, we’re happy to help!
Get a fancy cup of coffee or tea and hang out in one of our favorite local coffee shops. You can’t go wrong with local brews, so ask about the shop’s specialty drinks: tea lattes, house-made tinctures, and fanciful coffee creations. Then grab a seat and settle back for entertaining people-watching! Read the local papers (usually available for free in coffee shops) and see how similar (or different) our community is from your own. You can usually snag a very yummy locally made baked good to nibble while passing the time and avoiding the raindrops. Megan recommends the London Love at Higher Ground in Guerneville.
Get a bowl of soup!! Order the noodle bowl at Ramen Gaijin and slurp your way to a warm belly. Check out the specials for locally grown and seasonal ingredients. Find your favorite chowder in Bodega Bay where restaurants vie for the title of “Best Chowder” annually. For more restaurants in the area, check out our Restaurant and Dining page.
Play a board game or cards with your traveling companions. We especially love to pull out a puzzle, make a cup of hot cocoa, and challenge our friends to figure out more than the corners and edges! Who knew Grandma was an Uno shark or that Mom’s poker face is so much better while playing actual Poker!?!? If you’re craving a particular game, the Guerneville 5 & 10 is sure to have all the old fashioned games of our youth PLUS the latest expansion pack for Cards Against Humanity. We know some families bring their favorite games with them too…
Explore Wine Country with a driver. Tasting rooms tend to be quieter in inclement weather, so you’ll get more one on one time with the folks pouring your favorite beverage. And what better time to have a private driver than when the roads are wet? With your safety covered, you can focus on sipping and swirling. Many wineries offer food & wine pairings and more extensive tours and tastings by appointment, so check the website in advance and make a day of it! If wine isn’t your scene, the same drivers are happy to show you around local breweries (beer and hard cider) and distilleries. There are plenty in the area, so ask the office if you need recommendations or check out the Sonoma County Craft Beverage Map and website.
Take a HIKE! Light rain is no reason to skip hiking the Sonoma Coast or explore life in the redwoods. As long as you have a raincoat, good shoes, and (maybe) an umbrella, you’ll love the fresh smells and various wildlife you’ll see during and immediately after a rain. With over 60,000 acres of land in just the Sonoma County Regional Park System and more being added every year, there is no shortage of hiking and walking opportunities.
One of our favorite trails in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is a loop with the Pioneer and Discovery Trails winding along the forest floor between spectacular and ancient Sequoia sempervirens (redwood trees) and over seasonal creeks. It’s perfect for light rain – paved or hard-packed trails, under the redwood canopy, and easy to reach from a free parking lot at the entrance to the park. Dogs are allowed on paved trails in Armstrong Woods and there are water fountains, bathrooms, and benches throughout.
The Kortum Trail is part of the Sonoma Coast State Park and gives hikers a multitude of picture-perfect views of sea stacks (rock stands in the ocean), sweeping vistas, and nature’s incredible power in the crashing waves! We like this trail for the meticulous upkeep and raised boardwalks over especially muddy areas. You can hike this trail as an out-and-back trek or stage a car at each parking lot (Blind Beach and Wright’s Beach). Dogs are not allowed on the Kortum Trail.
Go to the SPA! Did you know that most spas allow you to arrive early (or stay after your appointment) to enjoy the rest of the facilities? You can make a day of it with simply one appointment or several. Either way, Sonoma County has world-class spa experiences for you. Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone is renowned for its cedar enzyme baths, Zen and tea gardens, and hand-built massage pagodas. Simply visiting the grounds is a treat! A little closer, June Bug Skin and Body offers a variety of services in downtown Guerneville. And, you don’t even have to leave your cozy quarters for a massage! We’re happy to recommend excellent massage therapists who bring everything to you – no driving required.
A little retail therapy goes a long way… Shopping, browsing, and bargain hunting are a fantastic way to explore the little towns of West Sonoma County and the Main Streets of wine county cities. Duncan’s Mills is a gem of little shops selling everything from handmade, fair trade and one-of-a-kind goods to antiques and world-class wines and cheeses. While Main Street in downtown Sebastopol has more traditional art galleries, bookstores, and “hippie shops,” The Barlow (a few blocks away) is the reincarnation of a warehouse/packing district with craft breweries, wine tasting rooms, and locally made wares. Oh and, somehow, Sebastopol has an amazing number of ice cream shops!! The main streets of Guerneville, Graton, Windsor, Healdsburg (and more) all showcase the uniqueness of the area and each town with shops, galleries, and restaurants you can’t imagine anywhere else. Sample the flavors of Sonoma County.