A Guide to Sonoma

A Local's Guide to Sonoma

Not to Miss in Sonoma… A local’s guide for our visitors
Compiled by Vodarians

We love having visitors at Vode HQ. Many of our guests choose to extend their stay... I mean why wouldn’t you? We have a bunch of local characters who work at Vode (A.K.A. Vodarians) with different ideas about the best things to do and see in Sonoma. The list is organized into four categories:

1) Where to Eat
2) Where to Sip
3) Like a Local
4) History + Activities

We’d never steer you wrong, these gems are tried and true. We did the tough QC work. All you have to do is have the best time ever.

Download the PDF here 

Discover Unique Dining Experiences

Fine-Dining options for every taste








El Dorado Kitchen In the heart of the action on the historic Sonoma square. Enjoy the lovely courtyard or indoor dining, cozy bar with carefully crafted cocktails. The finest local ingredients and wines. Superior service.

Harvest Moon Cafe A quaint, rustic gem right on the square, serves powerhouse seasonal cuisine. Owned by a friendly husband and wife chef team. Open for dinner and weekend brunch. Outdoor movies are screened in the courtyard on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer.

Swiss Hotel Established as a stagecoach stop in 1870 and turned into a hotel in 1892, the Swiss Hotel is the place to be on the Sonoma square. Have a cocktail on the front patio and people watch. Enjoy Italian classics on the lovely outdoor patio.

Café La Haye A quaint little place with a small menu, this is a neighborhood gem in downtown Sonoma. The food tastes like homemade and service is impeccable. There are only a few tables so it’s the perfect place for a nice quiet meal.

Girl & the Fig Inventive French country fare & fine wines are offered at this rustic bistro with an outdoor patio. Featuring a gorgeous antique bar. The quiche is a must. Right on the Sonoma square.

OSO A casual, urban tavern with a relaxed modern vibe ambience, plus eclectic, locally sourced small plates, a raw bar and fantastic cocktails. Located on the historic Sonoma Square.

Tasca Tasca Perfect for a late night bite. You’re sure to enjoy the warm and inviting Portuguese tapas and wine bar. Located right off the Sonoma square. Try the Piri Piri Potatoes or Dungeness Crab Empanadas. A unique culinary experience.

La Salette At home amidst the historic buildings surrounding Sonoma’s landmark central plaza, offering modern takes on Portuguese dishes. An intimate spot with a wood-fired oven and terrace.

Experience World-Class Wine

Sonoma is home to a variety of world-renowned wineries that will surprise you with their stunning and engaging atmospheres.








Three Sticks Located in the historic Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe the longest occupied residence in Sonoma. Exquisite décor and lovely courtyard make this a very intimate experience. Known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals, which you can also enjoy with small plates or a full wine pairing luncheon.

Gundlach Bundschu California’s oldest continuously family-owned winery, this 320-acre estate vineyard specializes in sustainably farmed Bordeaux reds and cool climate varietal wines. Take a stroll through the vast property or dig deeper on a cave tour.

Scribe With a down-to-Earth ambiance, this winery offers vibrant, terroir-driven wines. With an emphasis on the relationship between man and nature, the vineyard is managed in harmony with the greater eco-system resulting in site-specific wines.

Hanzell Keeping with its time-honored traditions, these wines are produced in small lots across a unique and stunning winery estate. Choose between a Heritage Winery Tasting or Hanzell’s Farm Tour/Tasting experience.

Cline You can expect to find many different wine varietals at Cline including the hard to find Rhone-style. This approachable winery features three vineyards and an 1850’s farm house for wine tasting. Other events include the Cline Jazz Festival.

Benzinger A stunning 85-acre estate in the Sonoma Mountains, this winery specializes in organic grape growing where it emphasizes land preservation and encourages biodiversity of the farm. See for yourself on the Biodynamic Vineyard Tram Tour!

Vode Staff Picks… Do Sonoma Like a Local

Sure there are world-class wineries and Michelin Star restaurants… but this is the “real” Sonoma.








El Coyote Taco Truck A Vode employee favorite. Located on Broadway two blocks down from the Square. The quality can’t be beat. Try the Summer Burrito.

Sonoma’s Best Vode’s 5 p.m. watering hole. Local brews, wines and cheeses. Pick up some fun Sonoma souvenirs. Garden patio out back. Wine lover's case available.

El Molino Central This restaurant typifies “hipster Mexican.” Find yourself comfortably seated at the heated patio or admire the open kitchen where the magic happens, from fresh tortillas to guacamole.

Broadway Market A true locals market with the best deli sandwiches in town. Pick up all your basic picnic provisions and wine for a fraction of the cost of the “fancy” shops in town. Plus, you can hang with the real people of Sonoma. They even have no-frills outdoor seating.

Taste of the Himalayas A hidden gem located in a picturesque alley off the Square. We love the authentic dishes, exotic ambiance and attentive service.

Oak Hill Farm A 700-acre family owned ranch. They grow and sell produce to Sonoma’s finest restaurants. The Red Bard on the property features a farm store with flowers, produce, olive oil, wine, condiments and gifts. There is a farmer’s market on the property open every Saturday May-December.

Steiner’s Tavern Is a Sonoma institution. A dark, cozy spot featuring pool, darts, TVs and a juke box. Enjoy pub-fare on the historic Sonoma square. Any bar with a Jackalope is our kind of bar.

Sweet Scoops An adorable shop on the historic Sonoma Square with sidewalk seating. Housemade ice creams and cones. Grab a scoop and take a leisurely stroll around the square. Mint chip is a Vode favorite.

Tiddle E. Winks Step back in time at Sonoma’s vintage five-and-dime. Old fashioned candies, retro treats, Sonoma souvenirs.

Farmer’s Market Every Tuesday evening, May-October in the Sonoma Plaza. Bring a blanket and lawn chairs and listen to live music while noshing on local nibbles and sipping sensational Sonoma wines.

Other Must See Sonoma Sites & Hikes

Experience the beauty and history that Sonoma has to offer.








Jack London State Park Boasting over 29 miles of trails across 1400 acres including stunning vistas and the historic buildings from the time when famous writer/adventurer Jack London called this his home.

Overlook Trail A short walk to the trail from the center of Sonoma. The hike is well groomed with nice markers to find your way. The view is spectacular and a great opportunity for light exercise.

Quarry Hill Botanical Gardens A peaceful 25-acre haven of Asian plants and home to some rare species. The garden is also worth visiting for its lush green foliage, water-lily ponds and trails.

Corner Stone Home of the Sunset Magazine test kitchen and gardens. This wine country marketplace features a collection of world-class shops, tasting rooms, artisanal foods, art-inspired gardens, and live music. Great place to shop, sip, eat, play, and explore.

Vallejo House State Park This historic museum features a self guided tour that will take you through the former estate of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. Vallejo was a former military commander who founded the Pueblo de Sonoma and helped colonize the northern frontier. You will find many antiques such as carriages and saddles used in the mid 1800’s, as well as the two-story home built in 1852.

Barracks Built in 1836, the Sonoma Barracks represents the history of Sonoma. The building is now a State of California property and is a California Historical Landmark. Once used as a military base, it now serves as a museum to help explain the history of Sonoma.