Let’s face it: Dad doesn’t always get the press that he deserves. It isn’t easy balancing work with parenthood. What’s worse is that he’s often difficult to buy gifts for because he’s used to taking care of himself. With Father’s Day just around the corner, there’s no time like the present to show him all he does to make your life better. But gifting isn’t always about material things. It’s often about enjoying experiences alone or together in real time. Having a hard time deciding how to celebrate Dad? Check out this list of experiences that are sure to make him feel loved and appreciated.


If your father is the type of guy who loves being outside with the wind in his hair, Sonoma Valley is the perfect playground for adventure! With state and regional parks for hiking thousands of acres of pristine nature to explore, why not plan a day of hiking at Jack London State Historic Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (they offer camping, too!), or Annadel State Park for starters? All parks cater to all abilities and distances, making it easy to custom fit the day for your dad. If Dad is more of a bike rider, it’s easy to rent bikes at Sonoma Adventures and Wine Country Cyclery and follow their routes for a variety of rides, from the easy to the most challenging. And if Dad doesn’t get around like he used to, but still likes a good ride, consider treating him to an E-Trike rental at Pushpak Motors or a tour of the valley in a vintage sidecar motorcycle with Jerome from Rides By Me.

If your dad is more of a thrill seeker, why not sign him up for day of ziplining through the redwoods at Sonoma Zipline Adventures? (It’s an experience that will have him bragging about you for months!) Sonoma Ballooning offers a different kind of thrill, lifting Dad above the vineyards and enjoying the valley in slower time. But if your father is more of an animal-lover, he won’t want to miss a real safari (right here in Sonoma County) at nearby Safari West. All the thrills, all of the options, and all of the fun!


Some fathers are great connoisseurs—they love great food, wine, beer, spirits, and ciders. And they love talking about it! For those dads, a culinary or tasting experience might be just the thing! Sonoma County is full of wineries, tasting rooms, breweries, distilleries and even cideries—each with their own offerings from picnics and food pairings to bocce ball and horseback riding. Best of all, there are also some children- and dog-friendly tasting opportunities that kids and fur-babies can enjoy, too. And if you can't bring Dad to enjoy, consider buying a gift certificate or a club membership--there's nothing like getting a shipment of your favorite adult beverage by mail!

If Dad loves great food, Sonoma Valley’s list of dining options offers a cornucopia of options. From the simple to the divine, there are choices to accommodate many tastes and budgets. Whether you take Dad yourself or buy him a gift certificate, the options are limitless! Look to Sonoma Eats or La Casa for delicious, Mexican cuisine, Spread Kitchen for healthy Lebanese-inspired dishes on their sun-dappled patio, Della Santina’s and The Swiss Hotel for traditional Italian food (two local favorites), or the unforgettable LaSalette or its sister restaurant Tasca Tasca for Portuguese cuisine. If Dad is more of a farm-to-table style man, consider Valley Bar & Bottle, the girl & the fig, Café la Haye, Layla, Wit & Wisdom, Salt & Stone, or El Dorado Kitchen. But if Dad is more of a burgers, beers or breakfast sort of guy, don’t miss a chance to take him to the HopMonk Tavern, Palooza Brewery & Gastropub, Valley Swim Club, Murphy’s Irish Pub, or B&V Whiskey Bar & Grille—easy favorites with impressive beer lists.


Regardless of who you are, the gift of music is sure to be a hit! And Sonoma Valley’s extensive list of places to listen to live music piques the interest of any music lover. Look for festivals like Huichica at Gundlach Bundschu or the Sonoma Harvest Music Festival at B.R. Cohn for rock and alternative music, Valley of the Moon Music Festival for classical, or Transcendence Theatre’s Broadway Under the Stars Series for good, old fashioned showtunes. But beyond that, there are summer music series at many wineries like Sebastiani, Muscardini, and Cline, as well as at the Sonoma Botanical Garden, Murphy’s Irish Pub, Palooza Brewery & Gastropub and HopMonk Tavern. And again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Green Music Center in nearby Cotati offers both an outdoor “Summer on the Green” series, as well as a full winter program of world-class performers. Artists from the eclectic to the well-known perform at the Sebastiani Theatre year-round. Sonoma Valley’s music scene used to be up-and-coming; these days, it’s in full bloom!

* * *

Whether you elect to treat day to a special day at your side or buy him a gift certificate for his own day out, you can’t go wrong when gifting an experience in Sonoma Valley. With countless options to choose from, personalized to what he loves, Dad will definitely know how much you love him.