Sonoma Valley Parks & Recreation
you will find extensive information about all our great parks! This page features
Sonoma Valley parks with historic museums and exhibits. More parks can be seen by clicking
on the links below. If you are looking for parks with hiking trails, visit our
section on the Best
Sonoma Hiking Trails.
Wired! Sonoma State Historic Park now offers SBC FreedomLink Service! This service enables
park visitors with wireless enabled laptop computers or personal digital assistants
(PDAs) to access the Internet.
Museum 270 First Street West
of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, the museum is open 1-4:30 PM Wednesday
Since 1937 the Sonoma Historical Society has preserved and
disbursed local Sonoma and California historical information and heritage through
exhibits, books, pictures, and knowledgeable volunteers and docents. Each month
the Society hosts meetings with speakers covering relevant historical content.
Located at the same site as the original Northwestern Pacific railroad, The Depot Park Museum opened in 1978. The original depot was on the Sonoma Plaza in 1880 and moved to the present site in 1890. It burned in 1976 but was rebuilt as a replica of the depot.
Directions from the Sonoma Plaza: From the north
side of the Plaza, on the left side of the Toscano Hotel, walk through the courtyard
to the back parking lot. At the far end of the parking lot is Depot Park.
M. G. Vallejo Home State Park West Spain Street at 3rd Street West
last home of General Mariano Guadelupe Vallejo, Sonoma's founder, is Lachryma
Montis. In the midst of the sixty acre estate was a beautiful spring that the
local Native Americans had called Chiucuyem ("crying mountain"). Vallejo
translated the name into Latin, "Lachryma Montis" ("mountain tear").
In 1851-52 the two story, wood frame house was designed
and built on the east coast, shipped by sailboat around Cape Horn and then assembled
at the present site. The style is Gothic Victorian, with a large Gothic window
in the master bedroom, twin porches, dormer windows,and ornate carved wooden trim
along the eaves. Bricks were placed inside the walls of the house for insulation,
and each room had its own white marble fireplace. The crystal chandeliers, the
handsome rosewood grand piano, and many other furnishings were imported from Europe.
Directions from the Sonoma Plaza: Travel time: 5 minutes.
From the north side of the Plaza, drive toward the west corner on Spain Street
and continue on West Spain Street for nearly 2 blocks. As you approach Third Street
West, turn right onto the long tree-line driveway to the Vallejo Home.
London State Historic Park 2400 London Ranch Road,
40 acres of famous author, Jack London's original 1,400-acre Beauty Ranch was
acquired by the state. The original park included London's grave, the ruins of
Wolf House, and Charmian London's House of Happy Walls. Over the years additional
acreage has been added. Today the park contains more than 800 acres, including
several of the ranch buildings and the cottage where London produced much of his
three-quarter mile walk takes visitors to a dam, lake, and bathhouse built by
London. Other hikes lead up through fir and oak woodlands to views of the Valley
of the Moon. Another trail leads to Jack Londons grave and to "Wolf
House," Londons dream house, which was destroyed by fire in 1913.
There are no campsites in this park; there is camping
at nearby Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.
Picnic tables and
barbecue pits are available; ground fires and portable stoves are prohibited.
cottage is open to the public on weekend days.
is ample parking. Be prepared for a parking fee.
are a few rattlesnakes and there is poison oak; it is advisable to stay on the
On weekend days, there are docent-led
walks, which offer visitors interpretive talks of the history and ecology of the
How to get there:From Sonoma, take
Highway 12 East toward Santa Rosa. Turn left on Madrone Road, right on Arnold
drive, andonce you are in the center of the village of Glen Ellen turn left on London Ranch Road and drive to the end of the road.
the middle of the block on First Street West, next to the Salvador Vallejo Adobe
is General Vallejo's first home, La Casa Grande. Construction began around 1836
and completed in 1840. Eleven Vallejo children were born in the house. Over the
years, La Casa Grande's many distinguished visitors made it the center of social
and political life north of San Francisco Bay.
Bear Flag revolt, the ground floor of La Casa Grande was used as a retail store,
city council chamber, and other purposes until 1854 when the entire house was
turned over to the Reverend John L. Ver Mehr for use as a girls' school. The main
wing of the house was destroyed by fire on February 12, 1867, leaving only the
low two-story servants' wing which is still standing today.
San Francisco Solano de Sonoma Corner of First St. East
The Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma was founded on July 4, 1823 under the
direction of Padre Jose Altimira of Spain. It is the last and northernmost of
the 21 Franciscan missions along the California Coast. The mission site was chosen
for its weather, water, grazing land and building materials.
local native tribes included the Miwok, Wintun and Wappo. The mission natives
were called neophytes, or "mission Indians with many coming from tribes outside
Sonoma. When Altimira's neophytes rebelled and burned the new mission's wooden
buildings during an uprising, he became discouraged and returned to Spain. Fr.
Buenaventura Fortuny from Mission San Jose replaced Altimira and the building
of the mission was completed. By 1832 it had 27 rooms in the priest's quarters,
a great adobe church at the east end, and a wooden storehouse at the west end.
In the courtyard were workshops where the local natives learned craftsmen's and
farming skills. There were also orchards, gardens, vineyards, fields of grain,
a gristmill, housing for the soldiers, the natives, and their families, a jail,
a cemetery and an infirmary.
In 1834 the Mexican Congress
decided to halt the mission projects. Under orders from M. G. Vallejo, the Mission
became a parish church serving Sonoma Valley until it was sold in 1881. The church
and padres' quarters were then used as a hay barn, winery and blacksmith shop.
In 1903 the Historic Landmarks League purchased and rescued the mission. Full
restoration began in 1911.
of Sonoma (Sonoma Barracks) Spain Street
General M. G. Vallejo built the Sonoma Barracks in 1836 to house Mexican soldiers.
Actual construction of the adobe barracks building most likely took place in stages.
It was more or less completed in 1841 becoming a base for over one hundred military
expeditions from Sonoma seeking to subdue the Wappos, Cainameros, or Satisyomis
natives who attempted to throw off Mexican domination of the Sonoma area.
1846 the Sonoma Barracks became the headquarters of the Bear Flag Party, which
in June 1846 proclaimed a 'California Republic' and raised the Bear Flag in revolt.
Today you can visit the Barracks dormitory which is furnished just as it would
have been in the 1840's. It's right across the street from the Mission on the
northeast corner of the Plaza.
of the Haraszthy Villa End of Old Winery Road
Agoston Haraszthy, 'Father of California Viticulture', developed the first California
winery. Nearby he built his home, an imposing villa, in 1857-58. There on October
23, 1864, California's first formal Vintage Celebration was held, a masked ball.
Guests of honor included General and Mrs. Mariano Guadelupe Vallejo.
from the Sonoma Plaza: Travel time: 10 minutes. From the northeast corner
of the Plaza, drive down East Spain Street to Fourth Street East. Turn left onto
Fourth Street East, then turn right on Lovall Valley Road. At the stop sign, turn
left onto Seventh Street East. After the next stop sign, take the middle of the
three roads (Castle Road) and follow it to Bartholomew Park. Park and walk eastward
past the Bartholomew house to the park where you will find the gazebo and
the site of the Haraszthy Villa.
Hotel Spain Street
On the north side of the Plaza, next to the Sonoma Barracks, is the Toscano Hotel.
Built in the 1850's it was first home to a retail store and rental library. Later
the building was used as an inexpensive hotel, dubbed the "Eureka Hotel".
Around 1890, many patrons were Italian immigrants, and
the name of the hotel changed from "Eureka" to "Toscano." Today, the Toscano is
furnished with period furniture and looks much the way it did around the turn
of the century. The kitchen and dining room are located in a separate building
behind the main hotel. Both are open to the
public Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 1pm to 4pm and guided tours are hosted by docents in period costume.