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The Perfect Sonoma County Road Trip for Nature Lovers

North America


Sonoma County Road Trip

7 Can’t Miss Spots In Sonoma County California

A few weeks ago I flew into San Francisco, rented a car, and headed north to Sonoma County. Within an hour I was cruising up Highway 1 and enjoying every minute of it. A road trip through Sonoma County is the perfect way to experience awesome views, food, and outdoor fun, while connecting with nature. Needless to say, I never had to drive too far to find the next adventure! Cruising around Sonoma, each day was full of new surprises, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it always did!

1. The Barlow – Sebastopol


Taylor Lane Organic Coffee’s flagship Coffee Bar at the Barlow.
Taylor Lane Organic Coffee’s flagship Coffee Bar at the Barlow.

The Barlow is a unique 12-and-a-half acre, open-air marketplace in Sebastopol. Stop here for local food, art, and wine tasting. There are so many little shops, all with homemade goods and yummy food. The biggest problem you’ll have is deciding where to eat first! It was early when I visited the Barlow, so most shops were still closed, but I grabbed some much-needed coffee at Taylor Made Farms, a muffin at the Village Bakery, and some juice from The Nectary. All delicious.

2. Sonoma Coast State Park


Flowers at one of the many pullouts along The Sonoma Coast Start Park.
Flowers at one of the many pullouts along The Sonoma Coast Start Park.

Long sandy beaches below rugged sea cliffs, a craggy coastline with natural arches, and secluded coves make Sonoma Coast State Park one of the most scenic attractions in Sonoma County – if not California. The Sonoma Coast State Park spans 17 miles and is comprised of several beaches separated by rock bluffs and headlands. Pull over anywhere along this beautiful stretch of coast between Bodega Head and Vista Trail, and just start walking. You won’t be disappointed!

3. Goat Rock Beach


Goat Rock Beach along the Sonoma Coast.
Goat Rock Beach along the Sonoma Coast.

Probably my favorite beach along the Sonoma Coast, Goat Rock Beach is located between Goat Rock Point and the Russian River near the town of Jenner. Like a number of other beautiful beach parks along this stretch of coast, Goat Rock Beach and surrounding land is part of Sonoma Coast State Park. There are miles of trails that run along the ocean bluffs, as well as up into the rolling hills. Down near the rivers mouth, there is often a local colony of seals to watch from a respectful distance.

4. Rivers End


The cozy accommodations at River’s End in along the Sonoma Coast.
The cozy accommodations at River’s End in along the Sonoma Coast.

If you have time to spend the night along this portion of the coast, then River’s End is a special place to do it. Perched over the water, River’s End boasts expansive views and gourmet food. In addition to the restaurant, there are three private and cozy cabins, all with unobstructed water views and private decks.

5. Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve


Exploring Sonoma’s Coastal Redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve.
Exploring Sonoma’s Coastal Redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve.

It is impossible not to be impressed by Sonoma’s Coastal Redwoods. The trees themselves remind me of mythological characters with personalities of their own. Spend the afternoon among these ancient giants in Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. The reserve has a number of accessable trails that wind their way through the forest.

6. AutoCamp Russian River


Stay in a luxury Airstream at AutoCamp Russian River.
Stay in a luxury Airstream at AutoCamp Russian River.

If you have ever wanted to stay in a luxury Airstream, then this is your chance! Relax in custom-designed suites with all the modern conveniences of a hotel room. Play games in the communal lounge, make new friends around the bon fire, or take a classic beach cruiser out for a ride. AutoCamp is an awesome experience, complete with private patios and camp fire pits. If you have the opportunity, it’s absolutely worth the splurge.

7. Sonoma Canopy Tours


Part of the extremely fun zip line at Sonoma Canopy Tours!
Part of the extremely fun zip line at Sonoma Canopy Tours!

I can’t think of a more unique way to experience the Redwoods than on a zip line adventure with Sonoma Canopy Tours. The elaborate system of zip lines, suspension bridges, and rappels that Sonoma Canopy Tours has rigged in the Alliance Redwoods combines stunning forest views and fast-paced fun. Plus, they managed to teach me a thing or two about the amazing Redwood ecosystem along the way!


Stay inspired. Pin it to your favorite boards!
Stay inspired. Pin it to your favorite boards!


Perfect Sonoma County Road Trip

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  1. Chad Wingert says:

    Awesome blog and pictures Jess. Sonoma looks like a blast, love your life. Keep wandering!

  2. Mirza says:

    Nice shots. Cool road trip

  3. Seth Aquino says:

    Love your writings and awesome photos!

  4. Those California Redwood tree forests are beyond compare. So beautiful and humbling. Thanks for sharing.

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Hi, I’m Jess, an outdoor enthusiast based in Seattle. I grew up exploring the Pacific Northwest, and early on was infected with the travel bug. I tried to suppress my wanderlust in pursuit of a traditional career path, but after a short stint as a lawyer, I left the confines of my office to get back in touch with my roots. Now, I wander the world taking photos, making memories, and sharing my love for travel with others!

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