Foodies of the world, rejoice! Sonoma Valley’s ideal Mediterranean climate makes outdoor dining possible nearly all year long. With umbrellas and mist sprays to keep you cool in the summer and with heat lamps and romantic firepits to keep you warm in the winter, Sonoma Valley is patio dining paradise. If you also love the simplicity of a picnic, you’re in luck! Sonoma Valley’s public spaces and parks make picnicking a breeze, with responsible alcohol consumption permitted on Sonoma’s historic plaza throughout the year.
In the era of COVID-19, outdoor dining offers an extra comfort factor. In addition to the benefits of fresh air, most local businesses are also certified in our Sonoma Valley SAFE Program. This means that restaurateurs go to great lengths to configure tables for optimal social distancing, ensure customers wear masks when they aren’t eating or drinking, and follow scrupulous hygiene codes.
Restaurants and parks are currently transitioning their hours and policies in conjunction with the health and safety codes. To avoid waiting, we strongly recommend calling ahead to the restaurants below to make reservations.
Most of the patios in Sonoma are centered around the Sonoma Plaza. For casual fare, check out Mary’s Pizza Shack, Murphy’s Irish Pub, and HopMonk Tavern—the latter two of which often have live music—and HopMonk’s spacious biergarten is not to be missed.
If peaceful patios are your ideal speed, the calming fountains at The Red Grape and Sunflower Caffé may make you wonder if you’re in Sonoma or along the Italian Riviera. Both offer upscale casual fare and plenty of healthy options for those with dietary requirements.
For more of a fine dining experience, you’ll absolutely want to check out the patios at El Dorado Kitchen, the girl + the fig, featuring some of the finest farm-to-table fare. Della Santina’s, The Swiss Hotel and LaSalette also harken back to Old Europe, with fresh, traditional dishes and romantic ambiance—ideal for a special date night.
In Glen Ellen, make sure to check out The Glen Ellen Inn, a cozy and romantic experience with delicious classic dishes, and Les Pascals Patisserie for delicious pastries, lunch dishes, and coffee—an experience that’s très français. If you’re looking for some relaxing fun, head up to Kenwood’s Palooza Brewery & Gastropub, as well as Tips Roadside, both well situated around the wineries along Highway 12.
PICNIC POSSIBILITIES GALORE
If picnicking isn’t yet the official common religion of Sonoma Valley, it certainly could be. Sonomans are known for their picnicking prowess. With plenty of lush green spaces, picnic tables, and picnic-friendly wineries, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an excuse not to lounge for hours on end in some of the area’s most beautiful spaces.
The Sonoma Plaza is the hub of most picnicking activity, and with eight acres to explore, you’ll have all the space you need to feel in the center of things while still a world away. Responsible drinking and open containers in the park are permitted, so bring a chilled bottle of something special, a few stainless-steel Sonoma Valley wine cups you can buy at our Visitors Centers, and some delicious take-out from one of our local restaurants or markets.
Bartholomew Park, a quick bike ride from the center of downtown Sonoma, is a beautiful spot for picnicking. Grab a picnic table near overlooking their vineyards, a bottle of wine from the tasting room on the property, and find some shade under the trees. Bring your hiking shoes for a short but invigorating hike on their private land—a hiker’s dream!
Jack London State Historic Park boasts some of the best picnicking in Sonoma Valley, centered in the heart of the famous 20th century author’s farm. Stroll around the grounds, peek inside the cottage where he wrote, take a big hike on the vast estate, or languish over a long picnic, Sonoma-style.
For great spots to buy picnic supplies, check out Ovello Salumeria for fresh panini and homemade cold cuts; or Glen Ellen Village Market, Sonoma Market or Whole Foods for awesome pre-prepared foods and salads. If your taste buds favor pastries and cakes and other savory dishes, try out Basque Boulangerie, Sweet Pea Bake Shop, or Les Pascals Patisserie.