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Free in Sonoma

There are Many Things To Do That are Free in Sonoma County, California

Free in Sonoma means money left in your pocket. If you've been affected by the recent economic hardships (and who hasn't been?), you're probably keeping an eye out for ways to entertain yourselves, your families and your friends that don't cost a lot of money.

And most of us think of California's Wine Country as an expensive proposition, thus effectively eliminating it from out list of things to do. Not always true! There are many things to do that are free in Sonoma California, heart of the Wine Country.

Sonoma, California makes an excellent Day Trip from many parts of Northern California. It's an easy drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, Mendocino County... and Sonoma has many free things to do - that's right - completely free and completely fun!

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9 Things That are Free in Sonoma

Okay, the economy still stinks, but even - make that especially - during hard times, we all feel a need to take a break, right?

Sometimes we just have to escape the realities of life, if only for an hour or two.

And, perhaps surprisingly, Sonoma is so close to many places in Northern California, that it's within an easy drive.

The only expense you'll incur is gasoline and perhaps, the packing of a picnic lunch to take along.

So here are 9 free, or nearly free things you can do in and around Sonoma's Wine Country, whether times are good, bad, or indifferent.

  1. Of course, there are wine tasting experiences galore in Sonoma! But, did you know that most of Sonoma's wineries still offer free tastings? And even for those that have a tasting fee, it's usually nominal and can be applied towards the price if you make a purchase.
  2. Take a history lesson: Stroll around Sonoma Plaza to see Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma, the Blue Wing Inn, Presidio de Sonoma (Sonoma Barracks), the Toscano Hotel, the Servants Quarters (all that's left of La Casa Grande) - and nearby - Lachryma Montis (General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's home). The strolling is free in Sonoma California; the fee for entrance to Sonoma Mission, the Barracks, the Hotel, and the General's home is $2.00 per person over 17 (no charge for those under 17).
  3. Before, during, or after your history lesson, feel free to window shop the Plaza and meander through the specialty shops, boutiques, galleries, and wine tasting rooms and stores. Also be sure to explore the little alleyways and all the nooks and crannies!
  4. Grab a free Farm Trails Map from the Visitors Bureau on the edge of Sonoma Plaza park and head out to visit farms and experience a little taste of the goodness of farm-life at some of the most diverse farms anywhere. Buy fruits and veggies from the farmer, visit the animals, and enjoy seasonal adventures like summertime berry picking, pumpkin patches in the fall, Christmas trees in winter, and baby animals and flower fields in spring!
  5. Take the kidlettes to Train Town, a magical place with a scale-sized railroad complete with roundhouse and turntable. A train ride will take you through 10 acres of woods, over 5 bridges and trestles, through tunnels, past waterfalls, and into the little town of Lakeville. In addition to the train rides, there are amusement park rides, a petting zoo, and a refreshment stand. General admission to the area - where you can explore much of it on your own - is free in Sonoma California, though you must buy tickets for the rides (the 20 minute train ride is $4.75/person, regardless of age).
  6. Explore the backroads: Take Arnold Drive north out of Sonoma, through Glen Ellen (pick up a picnic lunch at the Glen Ellen Village Market), join Highway 12 briefly, then turn right onto Trinity Road. Stay left on Trinity Road as it becomes Dry Creek Road, then Oakville Grade Road. Turn right on Highway 29 to Yountville. From there you can either head south on 29 to Napa, or slip over to the Silverado Trail and take that more scenic route into Napa. Either way, you will have traversed some of both Sonoma Valley's and Napa Valley's most scenic and dramatic tableaus!
  7. Another choice from the Glen Ellen area is to visit Jack London State Historic Park, a memorial to the famous author of White Fang set among some of the most beautiful countryside you'll ever see! You'll find the cottage residence where London wrote many of his books, the House of Happy Walls/museum that his wife built, London's grave, Wolf House, (London's dream home which was destroyed by fire before he ever got to live in it), and a myriad of hiking trails for your enjoyment. The only fee is the $6.00/vehicle for developed parking - after that, you're free to explore.
  8. If you're looking for something fun and free in Sonoma California to do in February, check out the Sonoma County Pruning Championships at the end of the month! This event is held to recognize the tremendous skill and speed with which vineyard employees carry out this important task every year.
  9. And in mid-October, there's ArtTrails: and open studios, free, self-guided tour of up to 143 artists' studios - meet local artists, learn about their processes, and participate in hands-on demos as you explore the world of art.

For more free things to do around the North State:

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