48 Hours in Sonoma: Where to Eat, Drink, and Stay

Whether you're visiting for the first time or returning to an old favorite, Sonoma food is calling, and the destination is as charming as ever.

Home to hundreds of wineries, charming small towns, luxury spa resorts, and farm-to-table restaurants, Sonoma County needs no introduction. But even so, Northern California's laid-back wine region is constantly changing — and proving its resilience. Who could forget the devastating wildfires of 2017, when several properties were reduced to ash and winemakers lost hundreds of acres of vines? Since then, new houses have sprouted up, many wineries reopened with new and improved facilities, and eco-minded restaurants, tour operators, and hotels have shaken up the Sonoma food and drink scene once again.

Sonoma vineyard
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Whether you're visiting for the first time or returning to an old favorite, Sonoma is as charming as ever. Book a room at a luxurious hotel, dine out at a crop of forward-thinking restaurants, and sip on free-flowing local wine. To help you plan your next trip, here's how to spend a dreamy 48 hours in Sonoma County.

Day 1

Check in at MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa

The luxurious 64-room MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa is located just outside Sonoma Plaza and has been a local institution for over 125 years. From the exterior, the bucolic villas and winding garden paths have not changed much, but each building underwent a complete gut renovation in 2019. The rooms are light, airy, modern, and cozy and come equipped with every thoughtful amenity you can imagine. Snack on complimentary local chocolates and olive oil potato chips, relax with a lavender sheet mask from Petite Amie Skincare, or wash up in your own outdoor shower with the in-house Grown Alchemist soaps. Each night of your stay, the hotel surprises you with new simple luxuries (think a box of warm cookies waiting by your bed after dinner or a CBD bath bomb by Onyx & Rose for a late-night soak). When you visit you can book a romantic stay for two, or reserve the entire 10-room 1869 manor house for a home-away-from-home experience.

Head out with Bohemian Highway

For a truly unique wine excursion, book a day trip withBohemian Highway Travel Company. One of their knowledgeable local guides will pick you up at the hotel in a retro 1987 Land Rover and then escort you around the region for the day. This is not your average wine tasting experience: Bohemian Highway specializes in off-the-beaten-path wineries and helps you with those impossible-to-get tasting appointments. Visit three very different boutique producers, or opt for an in-depth experience with one winemaker. For lunch, choose between a gourmet picnic in the vineyards or dine at a winery.

Visit Hudson Ranch

Hudson Ranch is a dreamy destination for serious wine people. Nestled in the rolling hills of the Carneros District, the ranch has been supplying reputable wineries with grapes for over 40 years. The serene property expands over 2,000 acres but only 200 of that is devoted to vines: The rest of the land is for nature preservation, ranching, gardens, and olive groves (they make award-winning olive oil, too). Hudson has been making wine since 2004, from bright, French oak-aged Chardonnays to juicy red blends. They're only producing about 5,000 cases a year. In September 2018, they opened their tasting rooms and facilities. The industrial adobe-style buildings blend in flawlessly with the surrounding views. This winery is by appointment only, so be sure to plan ahead.

Scribe Winery
Stephanie Rudy

Have lunch at Scribe Winery

You know that gorgeous California hacienda you keep seeing on Instagram? This is it. Your first glimpse of Scribe Winery's renovated 1910 home is from the palm tree-lined driveway. Upon arrival, you're greeted with a glass of rosé and escorted to a table under their shaded veranda. Peek your head into the open-front kitchen and you'll see a team of impossibly good-looking people working their way around a center island heaped with fresh produce, wildflowers, and bowls of toasted almonds and marinated olives. It's peak California aesthetic. Scribe also has a full kitchen, so you can dine here for lunch. The food is simple but flawless: perfectly roasted chicken sprinkled with za'atar, house-made cucumber pickles, a creamy potato salad with chive blossoms, and fresh fava beans. A reservation is required, so book early! This place fills up fast on weekends and holidays.

Recharge with a spa treatment

For a post-wine tasting reboot, book one of MacArthur Place's rejuvenating Uppercase Tea spa treatments. This local, women-run company provides phenomenal single-origin teas for the entire property, plus tea-infused essential oils for the spa. Kick off your massage or body scrub with a meditative tea ceremony, then relax by the garden-enclosed pool or outdoor firepits.

Eat dinner at Layla

Finish your first day strong with dinner at MacArthur Place's restaurant, Layla. Executive chef Cole Dickinson (who has worked closely with reputable chefs like Wolfgang Puck and the Voltaggio brothers) is creating playful and fresh Mediterranean food in a stunning space right out of a Nancy Meyers movie. The food is creative but accessible and not your expected Mediterranean fare. The menu goes beyond Greece and Turkey and incorporates flavors from Spain, Portugal, and France. There's also a bit of New American familiarity, like the Crispy California halibut sandwich with a housemade bun, green goddess aioli, toasted coriander slaw, and smoked paprika. Whether you're stopping in for a few light bites (Dickinson is a master of dips and spreads) or a lavish dinner, this food does not weigh you down.

Have a nightcap at The Bar at MacArthur

Adjacent to Layla is the very sleek Bar at MacArthur. Before the renovation, this bar was known for its cowboy-themed horse murals and saddle-clad bar stools. Now, the space is unrecognizable. The Western decor has been replaced by plush velvet armchairs in rich jewel tones and modern brass light fixtures. In a town where few places stay open past 10 p.m., The Bar at The MacArthur is the go-to late-night spot for people looking for a good cocktail.

Day 2

Breakfast at The Porch

This sunny, all-day café and market is next to the entrance to MacArthur, so it's easy to pop in for coffee and a bite even if you're not a guest at the hotel. Do not miss their gluten-free pastries like the buttery Maple Bar (if asked to have it warmed up, always say yes) and the creative coffee menu. Layla's chef Cole Dickinson is also behind the drinks here, and it's clear that they're from the mind of a chef. In addition to your classics, you'll also find the Espresso and Tonic with lime and a Brown Butter Bullet.

Bike into town for some shopping

MacArthur Place is a short walk from downtown Sonoma, but to truly explore the area, reserve their (complimentary) electric Blix Bikes. Each bike has a basket on the front for your shopping bags and a bottle of wine. Take a spin around the historic Sonoma Plaza and check out some of the downtown shops. In addition to clothing stores, you'll find home decor at Summer Vine, vintage goods at Tiddle E. Winks Vintage 5 & Dime, and handmade jewelry at the Arts Guild of Sonoma.

downtown sonoma
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Taste wine in town

Return to downtown Sonoma and enjoy a few tastings around the central square. Pangloss Cellars has a stunning tasting room in a renovated historic building. The handsome space has deep leather sofas, sky-high cobblestone walls, and towering redwood pillars. Pangloss's wines are diverse and only available for tasting at this location. If available, be sure to try one of their full-bodied pinot noirs from Anderson Valley. For another unusual tasting experience, make an appointment at the Three Sticks Adobe. Three Sticks makes phenomenal wine (mostly chardonnays and pinots), but it's worth visiting just to see their adobe tasting room designed by Ken Fulk. The rooms are adorned with handmade Mexican tiles and a mix of custom and antique furniture. The tasting room opens up to a private enclosed courtyard with a veranda and trickling fountains.

Grab a cone at Sweet Scoops

Before cruising back to the hotel, stop for a treat at Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream. Situated on the northeast corner of Sonoma Plaza, they have a rotating menu of over 200 ice cream flavors made with fresh, local ingredients. The Mint Chip tastes like fresh garden mint and sweet cream and is studded with generous bricks of dark chocolate. For dairy-free ice cream eaters, try the shocking-good pistachio ice cream made with coconut milk.

Eat dinner at El Molino Central

In neighboring Boyes Springs, El Molino Central is a fun local taco shop with outdoor patio seating. The food is Mexican made with very fresh California ingredients. All tacos come on housemade corn tortillas served with heirloom tomato salsa. Do not miss the massive enchiladas or the guacamole (ordered by the avocado!), either. The beverage list is beer and wine only, but they allow BYOB.

Stop by Starling Bar for drinks and live music

On your way back toward downtown Sonoma, stop for a drink and some live local music at Starling Bar. This place has a New Orleans vibe and serves up "backyard-to-table" cocktails made with seasonal ingredients from their garden. The menu is constantly rotating, but expect drinks like the Meyer Lemon Smash and the Li Hing Margarita made with Li Hing plum syrup and salted plums. If you're still hungry, order their wood-fired pizza.

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