I was born in northern California, and after moving to Texas as a child, my family and I would make the long road trip back to San Jose every other summer. I loved spending time there and have fond memories of the cool breezes, tall weepy trees, and long summer nights. So when my husband suggested we take a trip to the Sonoma coast, I emphatically said yes.
We spent a couple days in San Francisco, then trekked up the Pacific Coast Highway to our dreamy beachside destination.
Although the drive combined my two biggest fears: heights and the possibility of drowning, I’ll never forget the sheer majesty of the steep cliffs hurtling into the ocean as we zoomed up Highway 1. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful parts of the world I’ve seen.
I’ve officially become a Sonoma coast evangelist and am convinced that everyone should spend at least a weekend soaking it all in. Scroll on for how I spent my weekend on the Sonoma coast, and let us know if you have any other recommendations for enjoying this beautiful part of California!
Rent a car in San Francisco to drive up the coast. It’s a beautiful drive that takes you in and out of cell phone service, so make sure to download your favorite podcasts and stock up on your favorite snacks.
My husband had dreamt of seeing the redwoods, so we tacked Muir Woods onto our drive and I highly recommend it. We only spent thirty minutes wandering the park, which gave us time to soak up the beauty (and to take a selfie with the biggest tree). Pro tip: reserve a parking spot online the day before.
After that, buckle up and get comfortable. It’s a two and a half hour drive from Muir Woods to Timber Cove up the Pacific Coast Highway. I was at first skeptical of that amount of time in the car, but, trust me: it’s worth it.
Upon arriving at Timber Cove, we quickly realized that we could stare at the ocean view for hours. And we did. We enjoyed it from the patio off our room, with a drink in hand at the lobby bar, while we ate dinner at Coast Kitchen, and out at the fire pit until the sun disappeared behind the Pacific and it was time for bed.
Staying right on the coast was a game changer for us. It caused us to slow down and take in the view, explore our curiosity of the rocky beaches, and be intentional about how we spent our time (because every activity was about 45 minutes away).
After enjoying a cup of coffee (on the patio, of course!) we felt inspired to go on a hike to explore the rocky beach we couldn’t keep our eyes off.
The coast has eroded over time, creating nooks and crannies that are begging to be explored and climbed through. The view from the edge of the cliffs or the tops of the rocks is unlike anything I’ve ever seen – have I convinced you of its beauty yet?
Healdsburg is on the agenda for the second half of the day. I’m sure you’ve seen Father of the Bride, Something’s Gotta Give, or It’s Complicated, then you’ll notice Healdsburg is essentially the real life version of the towns in those movies. Walk around the tree-lined, downtown streets with an ice cream cone from Nobel Folk in hand, popping into the adorable little shops around each corner.
When it’s time for a break from walking around we recommend two places: Campo Fina and Barndiva. Campo Fina’s Italian-inspired back patio will delight you and is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. You’re not going to want to miss out on Barndiva’s sustainably sourced and crafted dinner menu, so make a reservation and you can thank us later.
You can’t go to the Sonoma coast and not go wine tasting!
Iron Horse vineyard is first on the list. They are known for their sparkling wines, but their red wines are also delicious – my husband and I both love sparkling and reds, so we did a tasting of each and shared sips. It was so good we ended up leaving with a bottle of their cava to enjoy back at the hotel.
Next is the La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard. Located in an historic barn on the property, La Crema is the perfect spot to learn more about wine, specifically their pinot noirs and chardonnays. If you can, grab a seat on their deck overlooking the vineyard to soak in the view.
You can only drink wine for so long until you need some sustenance. The Farmhouse Inn Restaurant is only 10 minutes away from the La Crema vineyard and is guaranteed to not disappoint. Nestled in the heart of the Sonoma County with the ingredients locally sourced from a nearby ranch, you are sure to enjoy a relaxing and very delicious last evening in northern California.
That’s where our weekend ended and it was pretty incredible, if we do say so ourselves. Let us know in the comments if you end up spending a weekend on the Sonoma coast!