The small town of Sonoma one hour north of San Francisco is the center of the wine-growing valley with the same name. Sonoma’s main attractions are its many wineries and the pretty, historic Sonoma Plaza.
This post is a small photo gallery of the historic Spanish-style town of Sonoma, California.
The historic town of Sonoma in north California
About Sonoma’s History
It all started when Sonoma Mission fathers came to the area and planted their first vineyards in the Sonoma Valley. That was around the year 1824. Now, years and years later the whole Sonoma Valley area is world-famous for its wine production. Sonoma Valley has become a trendy area for wine tourism.
In addition the small town 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 for centuries offered a choice of hotels, dining options and small shops. All that was needed by the gold seekers who traveled to and from the gold fields nearby.
So I wish you welcome to the historic Sonoma!
The Historic Sonoma on the Map
Sonoma Valley and the historic town of Sonoma on the map
The map shows where the Sonoma Valley win-growing region and the historic town of Sonoma are located. Zoom in the map to get the exact location of the historic Sonoma.
Sonoma Mission, one of the many missions of California
Let’s go and see the town squarre, Sonoma Plaza. On the north side of it is the Sonoma Mission, or Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma as the official name says. The mission got its name from a saint.
Actually there is not much left of the original mission which was a huge complex. The upper photo shows the mission’s remaining whitewashed facade and the photo below shows the only other building that still remains.
At the time Sonoma Mission was built California was under Mexican rule and the Spanish were colonizing the area. That’s why the mission like many other Californian buildings has a Mexican look.
Sonoma Mission side buildings
The mission in Sonoma belongs to a chain of 21 missions built in California in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The mission chain 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 ancient route has a name too, El Camino Real.
El Camino Real almost exactly follows the San Andreas Fault earthquake line that has caused California’s big earthquakes. Wonder why they wanted to walk on the earthquake line and not somewhere else?
Sonoma town center, California
Historic Sonoma Buildings: the Blue Wings Inn
In front of the mission runs one of the main streets, Spain Street. Above and below you can see some photos of the many historic buildings in Spain Street.
There are some eateries as well and the traditional, old Blue Wings Inn that your can see here:
Historic Sonoma: the old Blue Wings Inn building
The Blue Wing Inn was the first hotel that was built north of San Francisco. It gave shelter and accommodation for miners on their way to goldfields and back.
Today the Blue Wing Inn is no more a hotel but instead a remarkable part of the Sonoma State Historic Park.
Restaurants and Shops
A Sonoma restaurant
This blue and white building is right opposite Sonoma Mission. It is a Restaurant, La Casa. A Mexican restaurant in a Mexican house.
Mexican restaurant in a Mexican house
This old building in the corner of the historic plaza contains much of what is needed in a town: a bar, chocolate shop, wine shop, gallery – and of course an ice cream shop.
The historic Sonoma Plaza, California
Below some more street views of the historic town of Sonoma:
City Hall and Theatre
And then, in the middle of the Plaza stands the City Hall, built to have four identical facades so that merchants on all sides could equally well see it. The City Hall is surrounded by a big grassy town square.
This again is the Sebastiani Theatre on the east side of the Plaza. Today it serves as a beautiful cinema with tasting rooms and bars on both sides. Otherwise the Sonoma Plaza is lined by wine cellars where you can taste local wines from different wineries.
Sebastiani Theatre in the historic center of Sonoma
And, to end my Sonoma Plaza photo tour, I still want to show the beautiful grey Griffith Block building dating back to 1921. Like the theater, the Griffith building too is located on the south side of the Plaza. It looks so gorgeous, particularly at sunset:
This was my small photo gallery of the beautiful buildings on the historic Sonoma Plaza, California.
More about Sonoma
The town of 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:
- Sonoma Plaza Visitors Guide : information and great photos of the Plaza.
- Sonoma and Sonoma Valley: the official website of Sonoma County.
More about Napa Valley
If you are planning to visit Napa Valley as well, don’t forget to check out my blog post on our Napa Valley Day Trip from San Francisco.
Visiting one of the many Napa Valley wineries