Sonoma County may be widely known as a luxury destination, notoriously famous for its wine-making areas, but if you thought this was the only element that this county in California has to offer, you’re in for a surprise. There is a lot more you might not know about the place, such as enjoying hot air ballooning in Sonoma County. The good news is that this only makes the entire journey even more interesting and exhilarating.
Here are a few exciting things you can do that are easy on the budget as well as thrilling to be a part of.
Wine Tasting for Free!
Well, it’s better to get the most obvious one out of the way first. Yes, you can enjoy wine tasting for free as there are a few local wineries that do not charge tasting fees. With a little research, you can find a few local wineries that offer complimentary tastings. Some of the smaller wineries might ask you to make an appointment prior to your visit, so make certain you plan your tasting times appropriately.
Are you Artistically Inclined?
Sonoma County has been a magnet for artists and art connoisseurs for many decades. It also continues to attract sophisticated artists, art collectors, and even casual art lovers. Whether you are completely new to the art scene or are a true-blue art enthusiast, artistically inclined individuals are sure to find Sonoma County a haven of sorts. The county provides a wide variety of art galleries, outdoor sculptures, and museums. It is sure to delight the eyes as well as soothe the soul. This is mainly because of the sheer natural beauty and general creative ambience of the place.
Head Over to Lake Sonoma
Lake Sonoma is such a sight to behold that you may mistake it for the Mediterranean. Once here, you can indulge in a whole range of activities. This includes fishing, water sports and various other land adventures. You can also take a hike, head for a picnic on the beach, even go out on a boat, swim or simply laze around taking the serene and captivating experience in.
Go Hot Air Ballooning
There is nothing like an enchanting bird’s eye view of Sonoma County, and there is no better way to do it than with a hot air balloon ride. Hot air ballooning has become one of the top outdoor activities in Sonoma County. As you gently ascend into the skies and enjoy the beautiful glow of the morning sun and fresh air, you’ll feel a sense of joy and liberation like never before. You are sure to be enthralled by mesmerizing sights as you float above a variety of landscapes such as vineyards, streams, creeks, fields planted with crops, orchards and more, all while catching stunning panoramic views as far as the eye can see. The fleet of hot air balloons can accommodate couples, families and groups. After your ride comes to an end, you can conclude your exciting adventure of hot air ballooning in Sonoma County with the traditional sparkling wine toast to commemorate your experience. Up & Away Ballooning has delighted in sharing Sonoma's spectacular wine country views for over two decades.
Explore the Sculpture Garden at Paradise Ridge Winery – The newly reopened Sculpture Garden at Paradise Ridge Winery is a sight to behold. It is open to visitors from 11 am to 4 pm on weekends. Be sure to checkout the infamous LOVE sculpture that became a symbol of resilience after it survived the Tubbs Fire that destroyed the winery in October 2017. Other than this, you are sure to have a wonderful time checking out the various new additions to the place, open meadows as well as the clever blend of art and nature.
Enjoy a Free Outdoor Movie – Want to catch a movie, but outdoors? Well, you can do both with a free outdoor movie at the Green Music Center. All you need is a blanket and a picnic basket, and you are set to have an enjoyable time whether it is on a bright sunny day or under the stars. This is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss.
Tour the Jack London State Historic Park – The Jack London State Historic Park has quite a story behind it. It all began with Jack London, the much acclaimed and traveled writer. London’s Glen Ellen ‘Beauty Ranch’ was his main focus. The author spent his final years at this ranch. Today, the world knows this place as the Jack London State Historic Park. The general public can tour London’s property as well as go on a walk, hike, horseback ride, mountain bike ride, bird watch and can even capture amazing pictures, paint, enjoy nature, set up a picnic and simply relax and rejuvenate.
Go Crazy at a Free Concert – Enjoy a concert in Sonoma County, at the Montgomery Village shopping center. There are a variety of concerts throughout the year featuring country, jazz, local rock, R&B and even tribute bands. Other than enjoying some amazing music, you can take your pick from wine, beer and other beverages on sale too. The best part about these concerts is that the proceeds benefit local non-profits.
Know What Life on the Farm Feels Like – Always wanted to get a personal experience of what living on a farm feels like? Wait no more! Enjoy a great day on a real farm and even get to pet cute farm animals while you are at it. Many Sonoma County farmers let visitors into their barn doors and gates to offer you a glimpse into what living on the farm actually feels like. You can also interact with farmers, understand how cheese is made, shop from farm stands, meet farm animals, pick pumpkins, sample drinks and food and learn about beekeeping.
Take a Walk Through a Public Garden – No time to stop and smell the roses during your everyday routine? Well, in Sonoma County you can. The picturesque public gardens are the ideal spot for a photo shoot, a picnic lunch or even a leisurely stroll through nature. There are many places in Sonoma County that show you a horticulturalist’s hard work; so go ahead and take a walk through public gardens that are full of vigor, liveliness, and relaxation.
Give Shucking an Oyster Lunch a Shot – Did you know you can shuck your own oyster lunch? Yes, there are specific places in the county that offer you a chance to shuck your own oysters. They even provide you with shucking tools, a grill, offer lessons and give you guidance on delicious toppings to go with your freshly caught oysters. By the end of it, you are sure to shuck your own oyster lunch like a professional.
Be One with Nature – Although it is renowned for its wine tasting skills, you can blatantly embrace your inner nature lover by being a part of many mind-altering experiences. You can hike through forests, climb a mountain, take a long walk along the coast and even circle lakes and ponds. All in all, you are sure to be one with nature in every sense of the term.
Drive Alongside the Sonoma Coast – Sometimes, the best things to do are simple and easy, like driving along the Sonoma Coast. Bring a blanket, a beach chair, snacks and take a ride along the coast. You can park for free at many places, such as Portuguese Beach and Salmon Creek. The views are nothing short of mesmerizing. So, get ready to take in the scenery. You never know, you might get lucky and spot wildlife in the ocean.
Get Up Close and Personal with Local History – Sonoma County’s museums bring you a full and rich variety of displays and exhibits. You can enjoy the artistic beauty of once common objects at the Hand Fan Museum or even review aviation history at the Pacific Coast Air Museum. You can revel in the lively and fun approach to art and science at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County or explore the mind of an acclaimed cartoonist, and the antics of the Peanuts Gang at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Besides this, you can also watch mid-1800s Mexican California come to life at Petaluma Adobe State Park or visit the historical attractions around Sonoma Plaza at Sonoma State Historic Park.
Discover the Magnificent Armstrong Redwoods – Want to feel serene and at peace with the world? There is no better place to do it than at the Armstrong Redwoods. You’ll be in awe of how beautiful and grandiose the trees are and find a true appreciation of what Mother Nature has to offer here. It’s the perfect setting for some quiet reflection. There is a marine chill in the air so make certain you arrive early and bring a jacket along with you.
Take a Hike with Some Stargazing Scenes – Take the thrill and charm of a hike to another level. Come pair your hike with some stargazing. There are special parks that offer one-of-a-kind camping and hiking opportunities so you can get the best of both worlds.
Want to Explore Some Honeybees? – You can wander through fragrant lavender labyrinths and explore the home of thousands of honeybees, an extensive array of flowers and even a tree nursery. Visitors can discover the farm, roam the lavender labyrinth taking in its compelling beauty, and learning how to safeguard honeybees.
So there you go. There are many things to do in Sonoma County. You can be sure that there is never a dull moment when you visit this area. Plan your trip, and enjoy these experiences, particularly Sonoma County hot air balloon rides at Up & Away Ballooning. The aerial view of the stunning landscape is sure to leave you enthralled beyond any measure.
Interested in visiting Napa Valley? Sonoma County is approximately a two hours drive to Napa. The regions are similar in many aspects, wine and hot air ballooning the most popular between the areas. For Napa hot air balloon rides, we'd recommend Napa Valley Balloons. From a classic balloon flight to ballooning packages that incorporate wineries, biking and overnight accommodation packages, guests can choose the California ballooning experience that suits their interests and itinerary.