One of the loveliest destinations in Northern California is the Valley Of The Moon. This area encompasses Napa, Sonoma and numerous little hamlets tucked against the hills. My husband and I fell in love with it the moment we set foot in Sonoma. There is something almost magical about this place. The light is Mediterranean and the ambience is one of sheer relaxation.
Our favorite spot in the Valley Of The Moon is The Plaza in Sonoma. This Plaza was built 150 years ago by General Vallejo. All four sides of the Plaza are filled with wonderful shops and places to experience local foods. In the middle is an eight acre park where communuty events are held. Everything from wine tastings, art fairs, Cinco de Mayo and the annual Red and White Ball. The old City Hall sits in one corner of the park, along with a gorgeous Rose Garden, a pond filled with ducks and geese, and a childrens play area.
There are two historic buildings of interest in Sonoma Plaza: Mission San Francisco Solano, founded by Fra Jose Altimira. This lovely old mission has been lovingly preserved, and it makes you feel like the people who lived there just stepped around the corner. The other is General Vallejo's fort. You can see the men's quarters upstairs, the old stableyards and see how the barracks functioned on a daily basis.
The shops range from booksellers to art galleries. The famous Sonoma cheeses are highlighted in the hevenly smelling Vella Cheese Company. We loved to stop in there, picking up a bottle of wine, an artisan bread and cheeses, and go sit in the park on a Fall afternoon. There are so many good places to eat here! from the delicious ice cream treats at the Brown Cow, to the high end Girl and The Fig.
Lodging choices abound. You can choose a comfy Best Western or go for it at the Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. The Spa one of the best in our state and the rooms are delightful. I would choose to visit the area in the Fall when the grape harvests are coming in, the days are warm, and the nights have that lovely crispness.
Next time you visit our beautiful state, stop by and spend a few days in Sonoma. I promise you'll never forget it.