As Native Sons, we are bound together by a love of our Golden State and its history. One of the prime locations to experience the early history of our beloved state is the Sonoma Plaza and Sonoma State Historic Park in Sonoma, a picturesque hour drive from San Francisco. The town of Sonoma was the site of the Bear Flag revolt of June 14, 1846. If you visit you will find several historic buildings of interest, great food and an iconic watering hole. To get to Sonoma from San Francisco take US 101 North to CA 37 West to CA 121 North.
In Sonoma there is the Sonoma Barracks, the remains of the military outpost established by Mariano G. Vallejo to thwart Russian encroachment in Alta California. The Barracks has a small museum which tells the story of the founding of the military outpost and the Bear Flag Revolt as well as the role of the Native Sons in preserving the historic buildings in Sonoma. Of special interest is the replica of the first Bear Flag. Across from the Barracks in the park is the Bear Flag Monument, placed in the Plaza in 1914 by our Order.
Other buildings include the Toscano Hotel, one of the first hotels in Sonoma, which is open for tours on weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. and the Servant’s Quarters of Casa Grande, General Vallejo’s official residence. The jewel is the restored Mission San Francisco de Solano. The mission is the northernmost and last of the California missions to be founded. It houses some artifacts and the Carl Jorgensen collection of paintings of all of the missions. The chapel has been restored and is a quiet and contemplative place. The State Historic Park also includes Lachryma Montis, General Vallejo’s home in Sonoma. It is a lovely Cape Cod style home with gingerbread detailing on the eaves and walking through it gives a good impression of what it was like to live in early California.
All of this looking at historic buildings makes one hungry and thirsty. Steiner’s Bar is a great place to stop and quench your thirst. Next to the Barracks is the Sonoma Cheese Factory, home of Sonoma Jack Cheese. There is a full deli in the Cheese Factory with plenty of seating. A couple of other places you may wish to try are the Basque Boulangerie for a sandwich and a coffee or, if it is hot, Grandma Linda’s for an ice cream. Just look for the bright pink door. The Swiss Hotel, dating from 1836, is a great place to eat and relax too. There are all sorts of shops and boutiques located around the Plaza as well as several other restaurants.
Of course, there are several wineries within easy driving distance from Sonoma and no trip would be complete without a little wine tasting.
Cline Cellars, 24737 Arnold Drive, (707) 940-4000, has a Mission Museum which houses the models of the missions which were displayed at the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco as well as a stained glass window from Mission Dolores and other artifacts. Not only that but you can taste their wines while you are there Brother Jim Danaher of Sonoma #111 says this is a “must see.”