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Exploring The Historic Sonoma Plaza

The small town of Sonoma one hour north of San Francisco is the center of the valley with the same name. Sonoma’s main attractions are its wineries and the historic Sonoma Plaza.

This post is a small photo gallery of the historic Spanish-style Sonoma, California.


Sonoma center


Sonoma History

It all started when Sonoma Mission fathers planted the first vineyards in Sonoma Valley in 1824. Years later the whole area has become world-famous for its wine production. Today Sonoma Valley is a trendy area of wine tourism.

The historic city of Sonoma has always been a popular destination for different kinds of travelers. First came the missionaries, then the gold seekers and now the wine lovers.

For this reason this tiny town has already centuries ago offered a good choice of hotels, dining options and small shops. They were needed by the gold seekers that moved to and from the gold fields nearby.

Welcome to the historic Sonoma!


The Historic Sonoma on the Map


Sonoma Plaza that is the center of the historic Sonoma is pointed out on the map. Zoom in to get the exact location of the historic Sonoma.

Sonoma Mission

Sonoma Mission


Sonoma Mission is on the northside of the Plaza, or Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma as it real name is. The Mission is named after a Peruvian saint.

There is actually not very much left of the original Mission. You can see the facade in the upper picture and below is the other building that still remains.

Sonoma Mission was built in a period of time when California was under Mexican rule. The Spanish were colonizing the area. That’s why the Mission just as so many other buildings in California is built in a typical Mexican style.


Sonoma Mission buildings


Sonoma Mission is a part of a chain of 21 Missions established in California in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The chain of Missions begins in San Diego in the south and ends with the Mission in Sonoma in the north. The 21 Missions form a chain at intervals of a day trip on horseback. The route is called El Camino Real. 

El Camino Real almost exactly follows the San Andreas Fault earthquake line that has caused California so many big earthquakes. Wonder why the route was built on an earthquake line?


Sonoma center


Blue Wings Inn

In front of the Mission runs Spain Street. Above and below some of my photos of the Spain Street historic buildings.

There are some eateries and the old Blue Wings Inn house that your can see below.


Sonoma historic house with balconies


The Blue Wing Inn was the first hotel built in California north of San Francisco. The hotel was needed by miners going to and from gold fields.

Today it’s not a hotel but a part of the Sonoma State Historic Park.


Restaurants and Shops

Dining in Sonoma

This blue and white building is right opposite the Mission. This is the Restaurant La Casa. It is Mexican restaurant in a Mexican house.


Sonoma center street corner


This pretty old building in the corner of the Plaza houses much of what is needed in a town: a bar, a chocolate shop, wine shop, gallery and an ice cream shop.


Sonoma marketplace view


Below some more street views of the historic Sonoma.


City Hall and Theatre

In the middle of the Plaza stands the Sonoma City Hall. It was built with four identical facades so merchants on all sides could equally see the facade. The City Hall is surrounded by a big grass-covered town square.

This is the Sebastiani Theatre on the east side of the Plaza. It’s a beautiful cinema surrounded by tasting rooms and bars. The Plaza is full of wine cellars where you can sample products of local wineries.


Sebastiani Theatre Sonoma


And to end this Sonoma Plaza photo tour, I still want to show the beautiful grey Griffith Block building from 1921. THe Griffith building on the south side of the Plaza looks so gorgeous, particularly at sunset.


Sonoma evening view


This was a small photo gallery of the beautiful buildings on the historic Sonoma Plaza, California.

Sonoma is a good base for touring the beautiful Sonoma Valley and the equally pretty Napa Valley next to it.

Some links for more information on Sonoma:

If you are planning a trip to Napa Valley don’t forget to check out my blog post on our Napa Valley Day Trip.



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