I headed back towards downtown Sonoma and swung by a Wine Country Bike store that I had seen the night before. I asked them about biking routes in the area and also about laws regarding bicycles in the area. One of the guys gave me a map that had what he described as a scenic loop that took you through slower sections of Sonoma with a loop that was out by some vineyards with low traffic. I thanked them and proceeded to purchase a couple of supplies that I needed.
|Photo- Park like setting of Sonoma's City Plaza area.|
|Photo- Looking through the park like setting towards |
histoirc buildings that line the Sonoma Plaza area.
Next, I parked in the free all day lot just off of the Sonoma Plaza area. I walked over to the Sonoma Visitor’s Center which is located just on the side of the main plaza center which is a city park with a an older City Hall building in the center of it. It was funny because I walked into the visitor’s center and this middle aged woman just seemed to jump out of the woodwork. I teased her about it and then proceeded to ask her all kinds of questions. I think I may have overwhelmed her. Boy, did I know THAT feeling. She started to get me all kinds of brochures, pamphlets, and maps.
|Photo- With a line like this I had to go into this store that's on the Sonoma Plaza area.|
One of the first places I wanted to check out was the Sonoma Art Museum. I walked over there and ended up talking with a guy that was locking it as he was coming out. The Art Museum was closed for the next 2 weeks while preparing for a new exhibit. Just my luck with art museums of late; they all seem to be closed when I’m in town. They must have got that memo about me. J The gentleman did recommend visiting several of the art galleries that are around the plaza area.
|Photo- A great deal of variety of shops on the Sonoma Plaza.|
|Photo- A lot of little acloves and |
private hidden patios along the Sonoma Plaza.
So I started to do that only to discover that it wasn’t quite 11AM. I’ll warn you that mostly everything in Sonoma Plaza area doesn’t open until about 11AM. I guess they like to sleep in here. So I just walked around for about 15 min around the square taking pictures; being the ultimate tourist.
|Photo- Barren areas along Sonoma's 1.5 mile paved bike route.|
I then decided to walk along the 1.5 mile bike path that they have just off of downtown area. I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t very scenic at all in fact in some stretches it out right barren land that it went through. It was only as it got within a couple of blocks of the downtown area that it became somewhat nice.
|Photo- The lovely Swiss Hotel's back patio a very nice place to enjoy lunch.|
I did managed to check out a few galleries and my stomach was starting to growl for some lunch. I had overheard a gal in one of the galleries ask about somewhere to eat. I listened and overheard the possibilities and the one that sounded nice to me was the Swiss Hotel. Which is an actual hotel on the plaza but has a bar and restaurant area. I went in and asked to sit on the back patio area where it was a bit quieter than the front street area. The nice back patio area was situated under an older timber trellis with live well trimmed vines that ran through it. The tables had red and white checkered tablecloths and there were green umbrellas for those that wanted a bit more shade. Soft music was piped and it was just a wonderful relaxing area to have lunch. I ordered the butternut squash ravioli and a small glass of pinot noir. Bread was brought out with a small bowl of olive oil, vinegar, and red peppers. It was a wonderful meal. I even figured I could splurge because my 1.5 mile walk. I ordered the chocolate cake for dessert; which had a fabulous presentation.
|Photo- The warm and inviting outdoor patio area |
of the Roche Winery just off of Sonoma Plaza.
I decided to use one of my coupons for wine tasting now that I had some food on my stomach. I went to the Roche Winery shop jut off of the Plaza. The gal at the outside wine tasting bar recognized me from when she was on her bike earlier coming into work. I ended up talking with her about biking in the area and it was slow enough that she started to bring out these maps and brochures showing me where she likes to go biking. Meanwhile, she’s pouring me my free tasting.
After looking at the maps and seeing that a lot of the areas that she liked to go were just off of the Sonoma Plaza area, I went back to my car. I grabbed a change of my cycling clothes and went to the public restroom where I changed. Off I was after a short bit for a ride.
|Photos- Some of the sights that I saw along the Lovall Loop bike ride.|
I went out over to the cycling path and over to where it ends and got onto the road of Lovall Valley Rd. If you are ever in this area, I highly recommend this Lovall Valley Loop. It’s a bit of a climb but it takes you by nice houses on the way to vineyards and it’s a nice low traffic scenic route. It’s only about a 9 mile ride from the Plaza but there are also other roads to wineries that are just off it that you can go down and turn around. You can check out all three of these vineyards stopping for wine tastings if you want; there’s Buena Vista (the oldest vineyard in the area), Bartholomew Park, and Ravenswood.
I did see a couple of different groups of bicycling wine tours given by local bicycle touring shops; which is another option if you are in the area. However, they do not give you a price break for bringing your own bike and they also will expect you to be able to repair your own bike if it does break down on the tour. It just made more sense to me to find out where to go and do it by myself.
I explored a bit more around the neighborhoods around the Sonoma Plaza area. I was amazed at the different styles of homes; some Spanish styled stuccos, Victorians, ranch styles, and gingerbread styles. It was just fascinating going around and seeing what was around the next corner as I biked along. I logged a nice 25 miles on my bicycle and was getting thirsty for something cold. It was time to get back to the car. I showered and changed. Then, BOOM! I felt like I was totally wiped out from the walking and cycling. So, I decided to do a bit of drive through and stay in for the night. I’m sorry to admit that I vegged out in front of the tube and watched a marathon of the show called The Mentalist.