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Sonoma Plaza

Are You Interested in California History?

Sonoma Plaza was designed and laid out as the pueblo center of Pueblo de Sonoma by Mexican General Mariano Guadalup Vallejo back in 1834. At its original eight acres, it's the largest plaza in California.

The new pueblo played an important role in the formation of the State of California under United States rule.

This was largely because Sonoma and the Plaza served as headquarters for those involved in the Bear Flag Revolt. The purpose of the revolt was to declare the area's independence from Mexico.

In the meantime, unbeknownst to the Bear Flaggers, the United States was already at war with Mexico, so their stand was a bit redundant.

But though the revolt was short-lived (lasting only about 26 days), it was instrumental in convincing important people in the Mexican leadership of Norte California to side with the United States.

Today the town is simply called Sonoma, the plaza is a National Historic Landmark commemorating the early days of California's history, and while it's certainly not the only reason to visit Sonoma's Plaza, if you're a history buff, this is a great place to be!

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Sonoma's Contribution to California History

It was in the Plaza, that the Bear Flag Revolt was announced and the California Republic was established.

On and around the plaza you'll find several buildings that date back to the days of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.

Buildings that are part of Sonoma State Historic Park:

Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma, commonly called Sonoma Mission, it was the last mission built and the one farthest north.

It consisted of housing for the priests, a church, and workshops where the Native Americans were taught farming skills and various crafts.

Presidio de Sonoma (Sonoma Barracks) was built by Vallejo to house Mexican troupes who were in town for the dual purposes of protecting the Mexican pueblo from the Russians at Fort Ross and of subduing the Native American tribes who felt less than favorably about how they'd been treated by Father Altimira, the administrator of the Sonoma mission.

Blue Wing Inn: originally known as Sonoma House, the Blue Wing Inn was the first hotel north of San Francisco and is one of the oldest adobe structures in Northern California. You'll have to enjoy its ambiance from the outside at the moment - it's closed now, but I'm told the Park Service hopes to refurbish it one day and offer visitors another peek at the past.

For more about Sonoma Plaza's history, please visit Discover Sonoma Plaza History; for photos of Sonoma, see our Facebook photo album, Sonoma County: Sonoma.

Sonoma Plaza Shopping

If you like specialty boutiques for browsing and shopping, then Sonoma Plaza can't be beat!

Whether you're looking for a present for someone, decorator pieces for your home, practical and/or fun kitchen items, local artwork, salamis, cheeses, and breads for a picnic, unusual jewelry, fun wine accessories, or unique clothing, you'll find it on The Plaza.

Some of these wonderfully chic shops and boutiques are right on the square and others are down the peek-a-boo alley-ways or hidden in the beautifully landscaped courtyards that surround The Plaza.

Let's take a look at some of our favorites:

Baksheesh: look here for handcrafted and unique curios and gift items from developing countries around the world. Be careful, though - besides having a great time browsing the many distinctive items offered here, you're in mucho danger of finding that exactly-right whatchamacallit you didn't know you were looking for!

When you do find a treasure you just can't live without, your conscience will be soothed by the knowledge that the shop is a fair-trade store. They guarantee that the artisans from whom they buy are fairly pay for their work.

Kaboodle: this store is chock full of items for decorating your home, or for giving away to someone special! The silk flowers and flower arrangements are especially beautiful, but you'll also find quality curios, candles, picture frames, gift ware . . . it's one of those shops you want to step into every time you're near, because there's sure to be something new.

There's a wonderful dog that accompanies owner, Beth LaBelle, to the store. The dog's name is Lilly and she's a Black Standard Poodle. Lilly loves visitors, both human and doggy! She even keeps special treats on hand to share with her 4-legged friends.

Sign of the Bear Kitchenware: don't you just love a kitchen store? I sure do! There's something about all those gadgets that's just intriguing! Sign of the Bear has everything you could possibly need for the kitchen or dining room. Are you a foodie? Do you have a budding chef on your gift list? Love to entertain? You'll find what you're looking for here, plus a lot of things you didn't know you needed. Whether you favor gourmet meals or plain down-home cooking, this store is Paradise!

These shops are just a small sampling of the boutiques you'll discover while shopping Sonoma Plaza. Not to mention the art galleries, wine tasting rooms, and gourmet food stores!

To learn more about Sonoma, California, check out the following pages:

  • The Plaza's History
    Sonoma Plaza played a very important role in the process of California's statehood, and that role is reflected in the historical buildings on The Plaza.
  • Sonoma County Wineries
    Sonoma wineries number over 200, they produce 13 different varietals, and they're classified under 12 reknowned appellations! You don't need to know that to enjoy Sonoma's wineries, but you could use it to impress your friends. :-)
  • Sonoma Valley Wineries
    You'll find some of the best wines in the world at Sonoma Valley's Wineries!

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