Days one and two of this three part series were dedicated to the pleasures of this gorgeous land. From beer and wine to vegetables and cheese to art and design, Sonoma offers a wide variety of palate pleasers. But if you simply want to go on a spiritual journey, the landscape offers much for reflective rejuvenation. Today, we sample the beauty that is the land itself.
From coast to inland, Sonoma provides many reasons to hit the pause button on life and give yourself up to the moment. Whether you are by the cliffs of Bodega Head, which resound with the hypnotic effect of the crashing waves, or deep within the utter peacefulness of the forest of giant redwood trees, these settings decidedly yank you away from the rigors of normal life.
Day 3: The Great Outdoors and the Coast
Your last day in Sonoma is perfect for experiencing the splendid range of vistas that the region offers. Begin the day early with a hike in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, which boasts the 1,400-year-old redwood tree known as Colonel Armstrong. There are several paths to take, but even an hour’s walk into this giants’ forest — especially at an early hour, when there are few visitors — is an incredible opportunity to tune out the city’s screeches and subside into an inner calm.
Next, a scrumptious three-course breakfast at The Farmhouse Inn. The luxury B&B and restaurant is one of a kind. Operated by a brother and sister duo who live only a stone’s throw away, the barn-inspired lodgings are fluidly interlaced with every possible modern comfort. Best of all, their kitchens and cellar are filled with the best Sonoma produce from their own family gardens as well as from local farms. A three-course prix fixe breakfast at $25 is simply one the best starts of the day you can possibly have. Also, since one of the owners is gluten intolerant, they are very conscious of dietary restrictions.
Then, off to a drive to Bodega Bay and Head, a stunning jut of land that ends in cliff-like terrain, interspersed with water-weathered beaches, finishing in a churning sea. If you thought the Pacific was a calm body in which the Aussies love to swim and surf, then you’ll get a different thrill from watching the waves crashing onto the boulders by the coast. It is stunning and a perfect place to enjoy a picnic.
When you are in the area, don’t forget to make a stop at the Spud Point Crab Company, a tiny fish shack on the road to the Head. If restaurants are known by the company they keep, you can surely trust the seafood here — it’s a popular place with the local fisherman. With a large front yard seating space that is reminiscent of a truly old-style Fishermen's Wharf, it offers a splendid view of the calm bay with research crafts and fishing boats neatly moored to the pier. It is known for its home-smoked salmon, but my favorite was the humble clam chowder. It can easily rival the New England iteration, rich in its meatiness, with a distinct brine of the sea a consistent undercurrent in the dish.
Finally, drive down the glorious coast on some of the most scenic and daring cliff-huggers of the Pacific Coast Highway, into a relaxed evening back in San Francisco. Hopefully, you would have picked up enough wine from the stellar vintages up north to ease your heart and soul back into the routine of normal life. But if this is only one stop on a longer holiday, sit back and relish the thoughts of sun and happiness.