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Exploring Sonoma’s back roads: The extraordinary places you’ll find along the way

Tourist spots are great and all, and Sonoma County has its fair share of them from Bodega Bay, to Sonoma Coast State Park, to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and more. However, an idyllic California escape can also mean taking the roads less traveled and being rewarded by delightful discoveries. If you want to enjoy the locale’s hidden gems, Sonoma County has no shortage of long and winding back roads to get lost in. So prepare to reduce your speed and take in the memorable experiences that Sonoma’s lightly explored routes have to offer.

Cotati, CA
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Cotati is a quaint little town that lies in the heart of Sonoma County. With a culture dominated by agriculture and music, Cotati hosts the annual Accordion Festival where people enjoy a great weekend of Cajun beats, Spanish-tinged music, and local food. A restaurant district lies near the historic hexagonal La Plaza Park, offering diverse dining options, from all-American comfort eats to world cuisines.

Sebastopol, CA
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Nine miles northwest of Cotati lies the charming town of Sebastopol, a popular stop for North Bay travelers, thanks to a warm and welcoming downtown that’s strategically located along Route 116. Although Sebastopol sits along a state highway, make no mistake; the town is every bit the back roads treasure as every other place on this list. Surrounded by apple orchards and vineyards, the town is vibrant with shops, galleries, restaurants, and more. For something completely eccentric, be sure to check out the unusual outdoor gallery on Florence Avenue spanning three blocks. Whimsical sculptures which residents Patrick Amiot and Brigitt Laurent fashioned from everyday discarded items are on display.

Graton, CA
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Hidden from western Sonoma’s major thoroughfares and right in the middle of Green Valley, lies the quiet and laid-back town of Graton. It’s home to many artists, writers, and musicians, as well as working-class families and retirees. As you can imagine, many of the highly sought-after homes for sale in Sonoma County can be found here. Once considered “too backwoods,” Graton has evolved into a cosmopolitan town where tourists, artisans, winemakers, and culinary experts happily mingle. Popular wineries such as DeLoach Vineyards, Dutton Estate, Iron Horse Vineyards, and Marimar Estate are open to the public and allow guests to taste the vintages on offer before buying.

Forestville, CA
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From Graton, back on Highway 116 West and less than four miles away, is the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it little town of Forestville, with a downtown that’s all of three blocks. But you’d be remiss to dismiss Forestville because it offers more than a few dandy destinations in and around town. In downtown, shops are a fascinating mix of old-timey and contemporary. Walk into the trapped-in-time Ideal Hardware with its rustic Old American ambiance. Browse the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Magic Store, which is every bit as enthralling as its name, with charms, amulets, spell kits, talismans, and a trove of items used to practice the folk magic hoodoo.

Meanwhile, outdoorsy types are sure to enjoy Burke’s Canoe Trips and Campground so you can paddle or kayak your way down the Russian River.

If you’re looking for Sonoma County real estate, contact trusted Sonoma County Realtors such as Brad Wilkinson. Call him at 707.799.0455 or email Brad(dotted)Wilkinson(at)cbnorcal(dotted)com and explore condos for sale in Sonoma County, Sonoma County vineyards for sale, and other real properties in the area.