Things to Do
There are farmers’ markets, and then there’s the Tuesday Night Market on the plaza in downtown Sonoma. This weekly celebration of local growers and makers has a festival-like atmosphere that includes live music, dancing, and other forms of revelry. In addition to farmers hawking their produce, the market features vendors selling artisan goods and sweets including freshly baked cookies. Bring a bottle of wine and make this your destination for a light harvest dinner.
Old is new again at North Bay Letterpress Arts, a Sebastopol studio dedicated to the conservation of old-school printing methods. The studio has nine different printing presses, all restored to function the way they did hundreds of years ago. The organization hosts several one-day workshops throughout the year in which guests can get hands-on experience with typesetting and learn how to print cards, posters, or small notebooks to take home. Workshops usually last four or five hours.
Relax and rejuvenate in a pool of mineral water at Morton’s Warm Springs Resort, a beloved family-friendly destination alongside Sonoma Creek in the Valley of the Moon. The springs, in operation since 1946, reopened this summer after extensive site improvements. Today it offers three pools (including one kiddie pool), a picnic area, and an on-site café that serves farm-to-table organic food. Reservations are required, and it’s recommended to reserve two to three days in advance for weekends.
Stargazing needs a pitch-black sky, and the heavens above Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Kenwood are about as dark as they come. That’s why the Robert Ferguson Observatory is such a big deal. With several powerful telescopes, the observatory is the largest in the Northern California completely dedicated to public viewing. See for yourself by attending one of the regular stargazing classes, most of them led by docents and local astronomers.
The game is on at the Rewind Arcade, an upscale yet retro arcade at the Barlow in Sebastopol. The neon-happy spot opened this summer with dozens of throwback arcade games, up to 15 vintage pinball machines, and two giant TV screens for Super Smash Bros. tournaments. Guests over 21 get bracelets for the self-service wall of local and imported beers and ciders on draught. On weekends, Rewind is open until midnight, bringing legitimate nightlife to this otherwise sleepy corner of the county.
It’s hard not to have a memorable night at the Rio Nido Roadhouse in the Russian River Valley. The restaurant cranks out upscale comfort food, the bar pours stiff drinks, and the pool is open late for night swimming. On weekends in the fall, the roadhouse also hosts live bands in on the patio, creating a mini-music-festival vibe. Most nights, dancing breaks out spontaneously on the patio.