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Sonoma County wine country's largest city often gets sneered upon. Sure she's not quaint, nor even a looker like her sister towns of Sonoma, Healdsburg and Sebastopol; OK, her traffic can be deemed obnoxious; and yes, at first glance you may be asking where everyone is (hint: not in the historic downtown or miles of strip malls). But as the saying goes: there's more than meets the eye. The more you get to know Santa Rosa, the cooler she appears. Blessed with some of Northern California's finest parks, mountain biking trails that draw pros, farm-to-table eateries, and access to some of the world's finest wines, Santa Rosa has become an ...

Sonoma County wine country's largest city often gets sneered upon. Sure she's not quaint, nor even a looker like her sister towns of Sonoma, Healdsburg and Sebastopol; OK, her traffic can be deemed obnoxious; and yes, at first glance you may be asking where everyone is (hint: not in the historic downtown or miles of strip malls). But as the saying goes: there's more than meets the eye. The more you get to know Santa Rosa, the cooler she appears. Blessed with some of Northern California's finest parks, mountain biking trails that draw pros, farm-to-table eateries, and access to some of the world's finest wines, Santa Rosa has become an international hub for wine and food lovers. It seems her motto — which likely began with her first descendants, the Wappo, Miwok, and Pomo Indians, who shared this fertile landscape — is there's enough of her to go around. Happen into a brewery — it does take a lot of beer to make good wine — and you'll hear winemakers chatting with art gallery owners. Take an early morning stroll around Spring Lake and see families gearing up for a day of swimming. Head down to the farmers market and as you smell the scent of fruit, you'll understand that this farming community shines right down to her pastoral roots.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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