Welcome to Sonoma County
People are drawn to Sonoma for its deeply rooted culture celebrating food and wine, charming communities, natural beauty, and slower pace of life. The county features a rugged, remote coastline of beaches, bays, and jagged cliffs, a lovely river valley winding through old growth redwoods, and fertile rolling hills and inland valleys. The county balances charming, small towns and villages with larger urban centers.
With its warm climate and ample sunshine, Sonoma County has an abundant agricultural industry, with dairies, farms, and ranches raising several crops. Clover Stornetta is known for Dairy, McEvoy Ranch for olive oil, and the Sebastopol area for apples. You cannot think about Sonoma without mentioning its best known crop: the wine grape. The state’s oldest winemakers are in Sonoma, including Buena Vista, which began in the 1850s and is the oldest commercial winery, and Gundlach-Bundschu, the oldest family owned winery. The Sonoma wine region comprises 16 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs or appellations) with more than 400 wineries growing 66 varieties of grape.
In addition to healthy agriculture, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, and Petaluma are experiencing growth in the tech, health care, and tourist industries. The economy is strong, and quality of life is high. Residents have several options for work—and for play.
Whether you’re hiking the bluffs of Gualala, combing the sandy beaches of Bodega Bay, meandering along the shady shore of the Russian River, investigating the eight-acre historic Town Plaza in Sonoma, or climbing the hills in Jack London State Park, outdoor activities of all kinds are available.
Lay of the land
Sonoma County is perched above Marin County and shares a border with Napa County, its wine country neighbor to the east. Two mountain ranges run through the county, the Sonoma and the Mayacamas Mountains. Highway 101 creates a corridor connecting many of the towns and regions. Petaluma anchors the southern, more industrial region, while Santa Rosa fills the center, with Cloverdale rounding out the north. The sleepier city of Sonoma sits in the southeastern area.
Sonoma County covers 1,575 square miles. It is the largest Bay Area county and has a population of 500,292 (according to the U.S. Census’ 2014 estimate), making it the fourth smallest population in the area. Like many of its neighboring counties, a smaller population in a larger area creates an environment full of open space. Santa Rosa, with a population of 171,190 (according to the 2013 U.S. Census estimate), is the largest city in the North Bay, and is the county seat.
Sonoma has a series of highways running through the county (1, 12, 101, 121, and 128), although Highway 101 is the main artery. Sonoma County Transit buses move residents within the county. Golden Gate Transit provides bus routes to Marin and San Francisco. The SMART train and pathway project is under construction and will connect Sonoma and Marin County from Cloverdale to Larkspur. Phase 1 is slated for completion in late 2016.
Sonoma County’s award-winning schools serve approximately 71,000 students in 181 public schools among a variety of 40 school districts, from the rural Kashia school district with only 11 students to Santa Rosa City High’s 11,000 students. A variety of Catholic, parochial, secular, and other independent schools offer K-12 instruction in the county as well.
For higher education, Santa Rosa Junior College is the tenth oldest junior college in California. Sonoma State University, part of the California State system, is located outside of Rohnert Park.
The county played a role in early statehood, and with nearly 70 spots listed on the National Register of Historic Places, history enthusiasts have plenty of places to explore, including: General Vallejo’s Estate, Sonoma Plaza, Petaluma’s Historic Commercial District, the Petaluma Adobe, Jack London Ranch, Duncan’s Landing, and Fort Ross.
For sports enthusiasts, Sonoma has its own baseball team, the Sonoma Stompers. The greater Bay Area has plenty of professional teams to root for as well.
Live music options include the larger Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, the Green Music Center at Sonoma State in Rohnert Park, or, for a more intimate setting, the historic Phoenix Theatre in Petaluma.
Sea Ranch and Bodega Bay are popular for family getaways. For therapeutic hot springs, Boyes Hot Springs or Sonoma Mission Inn are popular options. The county is also dotted with wonderful small boutique bed and breakfasts and inns as well as larger full service resorts, too many to name here.
Other local highlights for family fun include the following: auto racing at Sonoma Raceway; trains, a petting zoo, and carnival rides at Train Town in Sonoma; wild animals and tent camping at Safari West in Santa Rosa; and ice skating at Snoopy’s Home Ice, named for local Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts.
The great outdoors
Balloon rides over the Sonoma Valley are popular in nice weather for the early risers.
The Russian River offers opportunities for paddle boarding, canoeing, and tubing along the slow moving river under the redwood trees.
If you’re an avid hiker or runner, trails abound in Sonoma. Gentle hiking is available at Sonoma Valley Park in Glen Ellen, Gualala Point in Sea Ranch, and Riverfront Park in Healdsburg. For more of a challenge, check out historic Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen, Helen Putnam Park in Petaluma, Shiloh Ranch Park in Windsor, and Hood Mountain Park in Santa Rosa.
Mountain bikers are welcome to ride on trails in some of the parks mentioned above, as well as in Spring Lake Park, Annadel State Park, Helen Putnam Park, and Shiloh Ranch.
Several options are out there for campers, from Doran Beach and Westside Park in Bodega Bay and Gualala Point in Sea Ranch, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Kenwood, Schoolhouse Canyon Park in Guerneville, and Spring Lake Park in Santa Rosa.
Cities Located in Sonoma County
- Bodega Bay
- Camp Meeker
- Duncans Mills
- Glen Ellen
- Monte Rio
- Rohnert Park
- Santa Rosa
- Stewarts Point
- The Sea Ranch
- Valley Ford
- Villa Grande
$639,000Open House2 beds, 2 full baths1,324 sqft lot 1,281 sqftWalk Score® 67Listing provided by Rob Orlando, W Real EstateMLS 21706007
$625,000Open House2 beds, 2 full baths1,328 sqft lot 4,792 sqftWalk Score® 76Listing provided by Mary Szykowny, CENTURY 21 Wine CountryMLS 21706083
$510,000Open House2 beds, 1 full bath1,092 sqft lot 6,151 sqftWalk Score® 60Listing provided by Tina Shone, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21706090
$675,000Open House3 beds, 2 full baths1,580 sqft lot 15,002 sqftWalk Score® 48Listing provided by Jennifer Rochlin, CENTURY 21 Wine CountryMLS 21706222
$5,300,0003 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths4,156 sqft lot 6.89 acWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Daniel Casabonne, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21706311
$980,000Open House3 beds, 2 full baths1,777 sqft lot 1.07 acWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Robert Jones, Terra Firma Global PartnersMLS 21705964
$679,000Open House2 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths1,854 sqft lot 3,655 sqftWalk Score® 45Listing provided by Molly Powers, Sonoma Valley Real Estate CompanyMLS 21706201
$625,000Open House2 beds, 2 full baths1,200 sqft lot 1,307 sqftWalk Score® 58Listing provided by Teresa Birt, Pacific Union InternationalMLS 21706268
$1,895,000Open House3 beds, 2 full baths2,004 sqft lot 2.38 acWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Joyce Davison, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21705223
$619,000Open House4 beds, 2 full baths1,344 sqft lot 6,534 sqftWalk Score® 49Listing provided by Kelly Stober, Pacific Union InternationalMLS 21705951
$2,750,0003 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths2,834 sqft lot 1.50 acWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Maurice Tegelaar, Pacific Union InternationalMLS 21703763
$3,200,0004 beds, 3 full baths4,155 sqft lot 2.45 acWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Matt Sevenau, Pacific Union InternationalMLS 21703768
$3,250,0003 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths3,156 sqft lot 22.29 acWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Maurice Tegelaar, Pacific Union InternationalMLS 21703769
$1,395,000Open House4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths2,952 sqft lot 10,890 sqftWalk Score® 27Listing provided by Jennifer Powers, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21704366
$895,0004 beds, 4 full baths3,225 sqft lot 2.29 acWalk Score® 9Listing provided by Tresi Yinger, Better Homes RealtyMLS 21705925
$3,100,0003 beds, 3 full baths4,276 sqft lot 20.06 acWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Christine Krenos, CompassMLS 21705979
$2,250,0004 beds, 3 full baths2,700 sqft lot 9,322 sqftWalk Score® 53Listing provided by Phillip Sullivan, Coldwell Banker Residential BrokerageMLS 21702918
$3,250,0002 beds, 2 full baths1,863 sqft lot 6,251 sqftWalk Score® 81Listing provided by Phillip Sullivan, Coldwell Banker Residential BrokerageMLS 21702923
$550,000Open House2 beds, 1 full bath1,244 sqft lot 12,741 sqftWalk Score® 42Listing provided by Maria Lounibos, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21705619
$1,500,0002 beds, 2 full baths1,659 sqft lot 3.64 acWalk Score® 14Listing provided by Christine Krenos, CompassMLS 21705963
$5,900,0002 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths3,300 sqft lot 12.34 acWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Brenda Brooks, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21705854
$1,345,0003 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths2,875 sqft lot 7,179 sqftWalk Score® 21Listing provided by Shannon Reiter, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21705527
$499,000Open House3 beds, 2 full baths1,419 sqft lot 1,681 sqftWalk Score® 59Listing provided by Douglas DelFava, W Real EstateMLS 21705677
$650,000Open House2 beds, 2 full baths1,532 sqft lot 5,663 sqftWalk Score® 0Listing provided by Tina Shone, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21705622
$659,0003 beds, 2 full baths1,225 sqft lot 7,841 sqftWalk Score® 15Listing provided by Jennifer Carollo, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate/Wine Country GroupMLS 21705663
$649,9002 beds, 2 full baths1,134 sqft lot 3,446 sqftWalk Score® 47Listing provided by Kristin Land, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21705326
$550,0003 beds, 2 full baths1,398 sqft lot 4,792 sqftWalk Score® 54Listing provided by Michelle Mino, Margarita Mino Realty & LoansMLS 21705669
$2,595,0005 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths3,452 sqft lot 11,326 sqftWalk Score® 22Listing provided by Carol Sebastiani, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21704907
$3,795,0004 beds, 5 full, 1 half baths5,544 sqft lot 3.02 acWalk Score® 54Listing provided by Carol Sebastiani, Sotheby's International RealtyMLS 21704359
$1,320,0002 beds, 3 full baths2,527 sqft lot 32,561 sqftWalk Score® 37Listing provided by William Johnson, William Johnson, BrokerMLS 21705575
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