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I have a confession. Every time I visit California, it feels like returning home. In my early twenties, when wanderlust just started to take over my life I moved to Ventura, California. I spent a year traveling around Southern California with some of my buddies. Even till this day, it remains one of my funniest years.

However, we didn’t get to explore a lot of Northern California. This winter I thought what better time to escape the frigid cold of southern Ohio then to head to Northern California, to attempt to drink my weight in wine.

When you talk about California’s wine scene, most people’s minds immediately think of Napa Valley. I wanted something a little more low-key, so I headed to Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County. This area of California’s wine country is a little lesser known, yet, by all accounts is Napa Valleys equal.

Santa Rosa this area has a lot more to offer than just buttery reds and crisp whites. I could have easily spent a couple of weeks exploring all the adventures around this stunning area of Northern California.

4 Reasons To Visit Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa California Redwoods

The Redwoods


The Redwoods are as stunning as you would expect.These ancient trees are the tallest on the planet and can grow up to 250 feet. Being the adventure addict I am, I couldn’t turn down the chance to Zipline through this lushes forest.

I spent the morning with Sonoma Canopy Tours over a hundred feet in the air swinging from tree to tree. I won’t forget standing in the branches of a redwood as we watched the sun burn off the morning fog that hovered over the sleeping forest. It was a fun and exciting morning as we reached speeds of 25 mph zip lining across the forest. It was one of those brisk mornings you don’t want to end.

A big part of this tour was that it was also educational. Our guides taught us a lot of the forest and the area surrounding Sonoma County. Overall it was a really cool experience.

Now, I have done zip lining all over the world, but this was a bit different. You had to slow yourself down using a glove on one of your hands. I’ve never had to brake by myself on a zipline, and it added a fresh new element to it.

The Wine

You can’t visit Northern California without visiting different wineries, am I right!? I spent my second day in Santa Rosa biking to a few different wine tastings with Getaway Adventures. The bike path follows the old railway track of Santa Rosa and showcases some of the beautiful landscape and vineyards in the area.

Plus, you’re burning off all those wine calories as you consume them.

My favorite wineries on the tour are.

Hook and Ladder – They use cool climate grapes, which I learned are some of the best in the world for wine. They had lovely red wines (My favorite was the Tillerman)

Dutton Goldfield. – Excellent and well balanced wines, and the heritage of the people who own the winery and vineyard dates back to the beginning of wine in Sonoma County.

The Food

Santa Rosa has some mouth-watering places to eat. Every night I found myself overindulging in the delicious cuisine. One restaurant, in particular, was Belly: Left Coast Kitchen and Taproom. The chef/owner, Gray Rollins is also the touring chef the rock band Linking Park. He has also tour and been the chef for Kiss and Prince.

After eating his food, it is easy to see why! I could eat the sweet bread, with cinnamon butter every day for the rest of my life and be happy. Everything is the restaurant was delicious, and I highly recommend checking it out.

A couple of other restaurants I loved in Santa Rosa include

​Hopmonk Tavern​

​Jack and Tony’s Restaurant and Whiskey Bar –

The Landscape

The landscape of Sonoma County nothing short of incredible. It is less than an hour away from the famous Pacific Coastal Highway. There are lush green forest, vibrant vineyards, and tall mountains all throughout the county. I knew that Northern California was gorgeous, but I was still completely taken aback by it.

I drove around all day just venturing off on different roads to see what scenic views I would find next.

It was a humble moment for me when I visited the grave and estate of Jack London at Jack London State Park.

Jack London's Estate

Jack London’s Estate

The literary icon who wrote famous books like White Fang and Call of the Wild had an enormous impact on me in my early twenties. These books nurtured my desire for adventure and kindled my imagination.

Jack London’s books, along with Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey, fuled a two-month road trip I took from Ohio to California, then California to Alaska back to Ohio. I even came face to face with a grizzly bear in Alaska!

Santa Rosa was a much need break from my backpacking life. I enjoyed every moment of my week in Santa Rosa. From good wine to epic vista’s Santa Rosa a place to check out.

Santa Rosa Tips

Rent a Car – I rented a car from enterprise  for my time in Santa Rosa and it was awesome. It gave me a lot more freedom to travel around and experience what I wanted.

Where to Stay- I stayed at the 50’s style hotel called The Flamingo. It is worth checking out.

Time – It is worth taking at least a few days and exploring the area fully.

Check out Visit Santa Rosa for more exciting reasons to visit!

 

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