Top Weekend Activities in Santa Rosa: Hiking, Spas & More

I recently had the chance to spend a weekend in Santa Rosa, California, and let me tell you, it was an adventure I won’t soon forget. Nestled in Sonoma County, this charming city is a hidden gem that’s ripe for exploring.

From sipping on world-class wines to wandering through lush gardens, Santa Rosa offers a blend of activities that cater to all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, or just looking to unwind, there’s something here for everyone. Join me as I dive into the highlights of my weekend getaway in Santa Rosa.

Wine Tasting in Sonoma County

My weekend in Santa Rosa wouldn’t have been complete without diving into the rich wine culture of Sonoma County. I’ve always heard that this region is a paradise for wine lovers, but experiencing it firsthand was something else entirely. Here’s a glimpse into my adventure through some of the most renowned vineyards and wineries the area has to offer.

Sonoma County is sprawling with over 400 wineries, each offering a unique experience that caters to a wide range of preferences. Whether you’re a connoisseur or just curious about wine, there’s something for everyone. I focused my wine tasting adventure around Santa Rosa, where the vineyards are not only breathtaking but also welcoming to newcomers.

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens was my first stop. Famous for their Chardonnay, this winery provided a beautiful start to my day. The wine flight was educational, and the garden tour felt like I was wandering through a piece of paradise. The staff were incredibly knowledgeable, explaining the nuances of each varietal I tasted.

Next, I visited St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, renowned for its Merlot and sustainable farming practices. The views here were spectacular, with the Mayacamas Mountains serving as a stunning backdrop. The pairing of wines with local cuisine highlighted the connection between the land and its produce, offering insights into the region’s culinary philosophy.

In the heart of Sonoma Valley, Matanzas Creek Winery stood out for its exceptional Sauvignon Blanc and the enchanting lavender fields surrounding the estate. The tranquil setting was perfect for savoring each glass and reflecting on the beauty of Sonoma County. Here, the emphasis on harmony with nature was evident in both the landscape and the wines produced.

For those seeking a more intimate experience, Siduri Wine Lounge in Santa Rosa offers tastings of exquisite Pinot Noirs sourced from various locations across California, Oregon, and Washington. Their approach to winemaking is both innovative and respectful of tradition, a balance that’s palpable in each sip.

Winery Notable For Highlights
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate Chardonnay Wine flights, garden tours
St. Francis Winery Merlot, Sustainability Views, pairing of wines with local cuisine

Exploring the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

After immersing myself in the vibrant wine culture of Santa Rosa, I decided to shift gears and indulge in a bit of history and horticulture at the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens. Nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa, this historical landmark is not just a testament to the legacy of Luther Burbank, an American botanist, horticulturist, and pioneer in agricultural science, but also a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Strolling through the garden, I was in awe of the diverse plant collections. Over 800 varieties of plants developed by Burbank himself grace the property, including fruits, flowers, grains, and grasses. The grounds were meticulously maintained, showcasing a vibrant palette of colors and textures that seemed to dance in the California sun. From the spineless cactus to the plumcot, Burbank’s innovations in plant breeding were marvelously on display, making me appreciate the genius of his work and the impact it has had on our world.

The home, a quaint Victorian-style cottage, added a cozy, historical ambiance to my visit. As I stepped inside, I felt as though I’d been transported back in time. Each room was preserved with care, filled with artifacts and personal belongings of Burbank, including his desk, library, and photographs. It was a poignant reminder of the man who spent over 50 years creating and experimenting in this very space.

Guided tours were available, but I opted for a self-guided exploration, allowing me the flexibility to linger in the gardens and absorb the tranquility at my own pace. I was fortunate enough to visit during one of their special events, which featured workshops on garden design and plant care. It was both educational and inspiring, a true highlight of my weekend in Santa Rosa.

Adjacent to the garden is a quaint gift shop, where I picked up a few plant seeds that were descendants of Burbank’s original creations. It felt special to take a piece of this historical gem back home with me, to nurture and grow in my own garden.

My visit to the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens was a refreshing detour from the wine-infused adventures of the previous day. It offered a unique glimpse into the life and legacy of a man whose work has left an indelible mark on agriculture and gardening.

Indulging in Farm-to-Table Dining Experiences

After wandering through the picturesque Luther Burbank Home & Gardens, my appetite for not just lush greenery but also for some delectable cuisine had been well and truly whetted. Fortunately, Santa Rosa doesn’t disappoint when it comes to offering an array of farm-to-table dining experiences. This culinary philosophy, deeply rooted in Sonoma County, emphasizes the direct link between local farms and chefs’ kitchens, ensuring that guests are served the freshest, most sustainable, and seasonal produce.

My first stop was a cozy, widely acclaimed restaurant nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. From the first bite of their heirloom tomato salad to the last spoonful of a locally sourced berry crumble, it was clear that the chefs here took great pride in their craft. Highlighting the farmer-chef partnership, the menu changed with the season, promising a new discovery with each visit. This emphasis on local ingredients wasn’t just a culinary choice but a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability and support for local agriculture.

The following evening, I found myself at a farmhouse-style eatery that boasted not just a farm-to-table approach but also its own garden, where much of its produce was grown. The connection between the land and the plate couldn’t have been more tangible. Dining al fresco, I savored every flavorful dish, each telling a story of the region’s agricultural heritage and culinary innovation. Here, the farm-to-table concept was taken to another level, with the chefs offering tours of the garden to interested diners.

Throughout my weekend in Santa Rosa, these farm-to-table dining experiences not only satisfied my palate but also deepened my appreciation for the local farmers and chefs who work tirelessly to maintain this sustainable culinary culture. Such meals underscored the importance of knowing where our food comes from and the environmental and economic benefits of supporting local agriculture. Whether it was organic vegetables, pasture-raised meats, or artisan cheeses, each meal was a celebration of the region’s abundant resources and culinary creativity.

What truly set these dining experiences apart was not just the quality and origin of the ingredients but the chefs’ innovation in transforming them into exquisite, comforting dishes. It’s an art form that respects the ingredients’ integrity while exploring their culinary possibilities, making each meal an adventure as much as a dining experience.

Hiking in Annadel State Park

After fully immersing myself in the lush greenery of the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens and savoring the rich, farm-to-table flavors that Santa Rosa offers, I was eager to lace up my hiking boots and hit the trails. Annadel State Park, with its vast expanse of natural beauty, was my next destination. This majestic park sprawls over 5,000 acres, offering a tranquil reprieve from the hustle and bustle of daily life and a playground for outdoor enthusiasts like me.

As I ventured into Annadel State Park, I was struck by the variety of trails available. Over 40 miles of hiking paths beckon adventurers of all skill levels, ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes. Each trail offers a unique glimpse into the area’s diverse ecosystems, from oak woodlands to dense chaparral, revealing the park’s unspoiled beauty at every turn. The spring wildflowers are a particular highlight, splashing the landscape with vibrant colors and breathtaking scenery.

One of the trails I tackled was the Lake Ilsanjo Loop, a moderately challenging hike that promised panoramic views and a serene lake vista. The trail did not disappoint. As I ascended, the vistas expanded, showcasing sweeping views of Santa Rosa and beyond. Reaching Lake Ilsanjo, I was rewarded with peaceful waters and a perfect spot for a mid-hike picnic. With each step, I felt more connected to the natural world around me, my senses heightened by the sights and sounds of the park.

Hikers aren’t the only ones drawn to Annadel’s allure. Mountain bikers and equestrians also find their bliss on designated paths, while anglers and bird watchers seek tranquility by the lakeside. It’s a testament to the park’s diverse appeal, catering to a wide array of outdoor activities. The wildlife, too, is a sight to behold, with deer, coyotes, and an array of bird species making occasional appearances, adding an element of surprise and delight to each visit.

Bringing a camera along is a must, as the opportunities for capturing nature’s artistry are endless. From the subtle hues of early morning light filtering through the trees to the golden glow of the setting sun, Annadel State Park offers a photogenic backdrop against which to frame memories.

Relaxing at a Spa in Santa Rosa

After the hiking adventure in Annadel State Park, my muscles were sore, and I was ready for some serious relaxation. Santa Rosa, I discovered, offers a plethora of spa experiences that cater to every need and preference. I’ll share my experience at one of the local spas that truly stands out for its serene environment and exceptional services.

I opted for a spa nestled in the heart of Santa Rosa, praised for its holistic approach to wellness and beauty. Upon entering, I was greeted by the soothing scent of lavender and a tranquil ambiance that immediately set the tone for what was to be a rejuvenating experience. The spa’s decor, with its subtle earth tones and natural elements, effortlessly enhanced the feeling of being close to nature, aligning perfectly with the peaceful vibes I had found at Annadel State Park.

The menu of services was impressive, offering everything from massages and facials to body treatments and wellness consultations. I chose a deep tissue massage, hoping to relieve the tension in my muscles from the previous day’s hike. The therapist was incredibly skilled, employing techniques that seemed to melt away the soreness, leaving me in a state of blissful relaxation.

Additionally, I indulged in a facial treatment designed to hydrate and revitalize the skin. Using organic, locally-sourced ingredients, the esthetician worked her magic, and I could feel my skin thanking me for the much-needed pampering. It was enlightening to learn how the spa emphasizes sustainability and supports local producers, reflecting Santa Rosa’s community spirit and its residents’ connection to their environment.

Before leaving, I took a moment to unwind in the relaxation lounge, sipping on herbal tea and reflecting on my experiences so far in Santa Rosa. I felt a profound sense of well-being, not just from the treatments but from the warm and welcoming atmosphere the spa and its staff had created. It was clear to me why locals and visitors alike cherish these oases of calm in their bustling lives.

Visiting a spa in Santa Rosa turned out to be the perfect complement to the adventurous and nature-filled moments I had enjoyed earlier. It was not just about the treatments but the holistic experience that harmonized so well with the essence of this charming California city. Whether you’re seeking relief after a long hike, looking to unwind after exploring the town, or simply in need of some self-love, the spas here promise an enriching retreat for the body and soul.


Wrapping up my weekend in Santa Rosa was truly an unforgettable experience. From the exhilarating trails of Annadel State Park to the ultimate relaxation at a local spa, I found the perfect balance of adventure and serenity. It’s amazing how a place can offer such a rich blend of activities that cater to both your wild side and your need for relaxation. This city has certainly left a lasting impression on me, proving that it’s a destination with something for everyone. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or someone in search of a peaceful retreat, Santa Rosa welcomes you with open arms. I’m already looking forward to my next visit!

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Ben Rutstein is the publisher of this website, he started traveling to northern California in 2014, and the Santa Rosa is one of his favorite places to visit, from that time onwards he has explored everything from visiting cafes to yoga in parks, local hikes.

He is known to drop everything at a moments notice for a visit to a winery or a visit to a park.

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