Beyond Sonoma County’s world-famous wineries and Pinot Noirs (bucket list-worthy themselves) is a diverse region packed with varied activities—from hot air ballooning and kayaking to yoga retreats and luxury spas. Not to mention its stunning landscapes, from dramatic coastal bluffs to towering redwood forests. If you’re heading to Sonoma County and want to discover another side of the region, here are three amazing experiences to tick off your list.
Hot air ballooning
For a different perspective—and a gentle dose of adrenaline—head to the skies to see Sonoma County in a new way: from the basket of a hot air balloon, manned by the skilled crew at Sonoma Ballooning Adventures. Enjoy the serenity of sailing through the early morning air with the huge colourful balloon above you, peacefully carrying you above the Sonoma Valley and surrounding hills. Looking to the north you can see the historic town of Sonoma, and to the south, San Pablo Bay. On a clear day you may even see across San Francisco Bay and get a glimpse of the skyline. The flight lasts an hour and is followed by a Sonoma Brut sparkling wine breakfast.
3-Michelin-star dining at Single Thread
Located in the pretty town of Healdsburg, Single Thread is no ordinary restaurant. For starters it has three Michelin stars, and has been named as one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants—for good reason. It also has a farm, which supplies the kitchen with seasonable vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, honey, eggs, and olive oil. At the helm of Single Thread is visionary husband-and-wife team Kyle and Katina Connaughton (he’s the Head Chef, she’s the Head Farmer).
Every detail has been considered, from the impossibly delicate garnishes on the 11-course tasting menu to the restaurant’s stylish décor. The menu is customized to guests' dietary preferences and restrictions, and is perfectly in tune with the seasons. Kyle has worked in some of the world’s best kitchens, including five years at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck. He also trained in Japan and incorporates these influences into his dishes. For the full luxury Single Thread experience, book one of its chic guest suites (yes, it’s also an inn), with redwood beams and Japanese-inspired design touches.
Listen to the couple chat about their Sonoma County tips in this California Now Podcast Sonoma episode.
Wine Country–style rejuvenation at Willow Stream Spa
Head to Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa for some expert pampering at its luxurious Willow Stream Spa. Located atop an ancient thermal mineral spring flowing from 335 meters below the surface, it’s one of the few luxury spa resorts in the U.S. with its own source of thermal mineral water. And the spa takes full advantage of its healing waters with five unique pools, where you can experience the spa’s signature Watsu floating therapy. Or you could opt for the signature 120-minute “Wine Country Kur,” a full-body detox wrap and massage experience that fittingly incorporates grape seed oil.