Locals call it ‘Slow-noma.’ Indeed, the kick-back vibe is infectious. If you aren’t one of those destination-driven travelers, you’ll love Sonoma. Anchoring the 17-mile-long valley, the town of Sonoma makes a good jumping-off point and has important California-historical sights and the state’s largest town square. If that’s still too fast, head to itty-bitty Glen Ellen, a town right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. At the valley’s north end, Santa Rosa is the workaday urban center known mostly for its traffic. If you’ve more than one day, explore the quieter, rustic side of Sonoma County, which extends along the Russian River Valley from Healdsburg to the sea.
Sonoma Hwy/Hwy 12 is lined with wineries and runs from Sonoma to Santa Rosa, then to western Sonoma County; Arnold Dr has less traffic (but fewer wineries) and runs parallel, up the valley’s western side, to Glen Ellen.