Summer livin’ in Sonoma!

Before leaving Connecticut and heading west for our cross-country adventure, we needed a plan for when we arrived in California. Where is a family of six staying once we arrive and how long are we staying? If you know me you know that answer was for good… lol

Jim’s friend from back in the day has a beautiful property, Freeman Winery, in Sebastopol, Sonoma.  They were nice enough to rent us their 3-bedroom cottage for the month of July and it was perfect! Situated high on a hill in their vineyard surrounded by olive trees, vineyards, open fields and plenty of privacy. Although it looked different this year with all the Covid Craze and shutdowns, that didn’t slow us down at all. We ate at some delicious, award winning farm-to-table restaurants, drank delicious wine, hiked, explored and toured! The weather was perfect, beaches were gorgeous and the California livin’ was PERFECT!

Here are some of our favorite must-have places to visit, eat, drink and explore. If you’re not ready to travel just yet, book mark this and reference for your next trip to CALY.


Bird and the Bottle – A Stark Realty Restaurant in Santa Rosa. Owner of Stark’s Steak and Seafood and Willi’s Wine Bar. Very well known and top notch! Beautiful menu, delicious cocktails, kid friendly and yummy! We went back a few times and it never disappointed! 

Lambert Bridge Winery – Nestled in the hills of Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley. By far the most beautiful grounds and gardens I have seen in Sonoma. If they would let me I would have my 40th birthday dinner in their gardens. I begged but with COVID sadly they can’t accommodate large groups. 

We sat in their garden with a picnic and a bottle of Sauv Blanc and had a beautiful afternoon. The kids played hide-and-go-seek and laid in the sun. It was dreamy! 

Handline Coastal California – yummy restaurant in Sebastopol. Outdoor picnic tables under the bistro-lit trees. Everything from ceviche, to BBQ oysters to burgers for the kids. We loved this place and so did the kids! 

Farmstead In St. Helena – if this place isn’t famous it should be. Placed on the side of the highway in St. Helena it’s a must-stop! The outdoor seating is situated among their huge garden full of vegetables, herbs, and trees for the picking. Kids loved running around the property while we relaxed after enjoying delicious farm-to-table home cooking. Vivienne explored the gardens while Jasper and Miles climbed on the tractor in the field. Their food was delicious from fried chicken to ribs to fresh salads! 

Gott’s Roadside – only the BEST burgers and fries …in town! Oh, and they serve wine and beer. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be true to In-N-Out but Gott’s has REALLY good food. Fish tacos, burgers, shakes, wine, beer oh, and soft serve! Good news for us there is one in Walnut Creek too!! 

Hog Island Oysters – situated on Bodega Bay, the oysters don’t get any fresher than this! Half the space shows how the oysters are received from the bay, cleaned, separated, and stored in water baths, and then just to the side of that you can grab a picnic bench and place your order for oysters… or… oysters. BBQd or steamed but that’s all they serve… oh and some bread. Besides that, it’s beer or wine. Must-see spot! Beautiful views and nothing but good relaxed outdoor fun

Brasswoods – This is a very good option for a birthday celebration or party. They have a HUGE space – beautiful winery, tasting room, bakery, and restaurant located just outside St. Helena. It’s a fairly new space and beautiful both inside and out. The wine is delicious and if you want you can bring your own to the restaurant but no need to! It’s a gorgeous setting among the hills in Napa and I can’t wait to go back.

Willow Wood Market + Bowman Wine Room – this is a teeny-tiny small outdoor winery in a small town called Grafton. When I say small I mean one road… 4 buildings on each side. No place you would think to stop in but when you do, you won’t be sorry! We stopped in the Willow Wood Market and grabbed a yummy lunch to take with us to the Bowman winery next door and sat outside with family for a sunny afternoon wine and wind down. A great little hidden gem. 

Few favorites not to be forgotten:

Yes Way Rose – um let’s just say my new favorite Rose. Grab it if you can… it’s a hot ticket here in CALY

Sebastopol Cookies & Coffee – cute little coffee and gluten-free bakery located in downtown. Yummy 

Some of my kids’ favorite spots!

Safari West – hop on a Jeep and take a Safari in the hills of Santa Rosa

Screamin’ Mimis – best ice cream and cookie sandwiches. Usually a line around the corner

Two Dog Night Creamery – best make your own ice cream. Made fresh to order

Horseback riding at Bodega Bay – beautiful views riding in the hills and down on private secluded beach

Hiking at Armstrong Woods – hike among the Redwoods. Gorgeous, quiet, and worth the drive. Wow, such beauty! 

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