10 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Sonoma County

10 More Things to Do  Can’t Buy a Rainy Day   Rainy Movies

(Update December 2015)

Okay, I’m a walking slacker. Saturday, Mike was helping out at Pepperwood Preserve’s Wildflower Festival. People showed up but the sun didn’t and many of the flowers therefore held back their colors. I was working and only showed for the food after the fest.

And Sunday. OMG. What to do with all this rain?

We read the paper. I played on the Internet. Mike read more. (Sounds like a tweet, doesn’t it?) (Update: Click 10 more things to do on a rainy day)

10 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Sonoma County

Rules: staying at home is not an option and there are 1237 websites for wineries and tasting rooms that will not be mentioned here.

Go to the movies. We tried that last week and saw Polanski’s The Ghostwriter. One of the characters seemed to be the rain. He filmed the North Sea coast of Germany for Martha’s Vineyard. We got out of the movie to what seemed to be the North Sea coast of Germany and the Atlantic coast of Martha’s V. Look for a movie with sunshine. (Rainy Movies.)

Go to a bookstore, a more or less independent one. Copperfield’s are big, though shrinking,  there’s plenty to look at and they often have events with writers readings and workshops. Sunday, we went to River Reader in Guerneville, because friend Pat Nolan and his co-conspirator Steve Lavoie were having a book party. The book title is Life of Crime. Much laughter ensued about their book, reliving the days of the Black Bart Poetry Society, ribbing poets or PO-8s in the 80s. Being National Poetry Month, it seemed appropriate for poets to be giving it to poets.

Go to the library. It’s National Library Week. They’re not open on Sundays but many of them do a brisk business the rest of the time. Pick your venue. Downtown is the biggest with the most magazines to read. Sebastopol and Healdsburg have nice cozy ones. Northwest by Coddingtown is most lively and you’ll never get a computer but it’s good for people watching. All branches have events with music or books. The Friends of the Library in Guerneville even read one of my plays.

Go to a coffee shop. These are the ‘new’ bars. Except for the silly people waiting in the drive-throughs of a S*bucks, it’s where we connect. You’ll find casual meetings or organized presentations by musicians or readers. My favorites rain or shine: Gold Coast  (Duncans Mills) where I adore the Café Cubano, Coffee Bazaar (Guerneville) where you’ll meet friends and see things you’d never see elsewhere, Aroma Roasters (Santa Rosa) where you have to bring your ‘hip’ factor (I’m in short supply lately) and earplugs. (I read a story there once over an espresso machine. At least one person said he heard something about something.)

Go to a Museum. My favorite is the Sonoma Valley Museum. It’s free on Sundays (oops, no longer true) and has had some world-class exhibits. Most notable was Picasso ceramics last year. There is student exhibit now. A nine artist exhibit starts in May titled, Silence, Exile and Cunning. Hmm? It comes from a James Joyce quote.

Go to Graton. Considering that Graton only has basically one side of one block (Graton Rd.), there is much amusement to be had. Most of it has to do with food, but it will stop raining and there is a nearby trail.  Mexico Lindo is colorful, has tart lemonade, creamy flan and yummy entrees. Take a walk down to Graton Gallery, a co-op of artists. Go back to Willow Wood Market Café for more food and explore the eclectic food related gifts. Head west again. At the end of the block is Far West Trading, with many tea and decorative  items (In 2014, it is now a tasting room). Have a seat at the bar for a tea tasting. I choose my tea like I choose my horses, by their name. How can you not try Silver Needles? (sorry, Far West Trading no longer open.) Now cross, to the one place on the other side of the block and have a cocktail at the Underwood. Small plates for lunch help reduce the cost for this elegant woody cozy place.

Go to Sebastopol. For coffee with comfy seating and impromptu or planned entertainment go to Coffee Catz (6761 Sebastopol Rd.) For the best bagel and coffee try Grateful Bagel near the Post Office – which is also worth a look as you step into the past when the Post Office meant something good. For shopping pleasure across the street from each other in the main part of Main Street in Sebastopol go to Global Village and Silk Moon. Global Village has a wide range of intriguing item from around the globe (duh?) and Silk Moon has elegant clothes in natural fibers for men and women. (2014 Update: There are many marvelous places in The Barlow to explore just east of downtown Sebastopol.)

Go to Duncans Mills. As mentioned above, Gold Coast. On the same side of the road the Blue Heron has been reopened (2014 – and reopened again) with food and music. On the other side I favor Pig Alley and Worldly Goods for shopping. For more extravagant shopping there’s Quercia Gallery, for current artists and Christopher Queen Galleries for early California artists and ambiance. Oh there’s more places to browse and eat, but you get the idea.

Go to Healdsburg. I’m trying to limit myself because this is getting soooo long. Top three spots: Healdsburg Bar and Grill for its great food, big space that’s comfy and lack of any snooty-factor. Plaza Arts for the same reason, though without the food. But don’t hold that against them. And the kitchenware store that’s next to Copperfield’s and that I can’t find on the Internet. But don’t hold that against them.

Go to Sonoma. I mentioned the SV Museum above. Near the square I like the Red Grape for food. It’s good spot in the Canoe in Naparain, inside, or in sunshine there’s a nice outside space. Just walk around the square to find your favorite spots. My favorite area is the west side of the square.

If you can’t connect with ‘nature’ on a walk. Connect with other people. There are so many places to have a good time but I gave up trying to list them all here and I’ve hardly covered the county.

In better weather, find a walk that goes with the above places. I’ve done some and will do more, such as Armstrong Woods (Guerneville). This is one of the State Parks under siege from California budget cuts. The valley floor can be walked in a light rain with the giant redwoods protecting and in summer they provide refuge from the heat. Eat at Main St. Pizza. They have music most evenings.

Having read all of this, you may be wondering how I have time to walk. I don’t watch television. I don’t have small children. And I don’t often go out to expensive concerts. Walking, eating and shopping are my entertainments. There’s years of experience  and indulgence here, I’m sharing with you.

Credit Due: This idea of what to do on a rainy day was suggested by someone who liked stopping at the Washoe House (at Stony Pt and Roblar) after a soggy walk with a biology class. The food’s not to my taste, but the history is classic and maybe after a few scotches… Built in 1859, it was a stagecoach stop. In 1865 after Lincoln was assassinated, a Major from Petaluma’s militia tried to take over Santa Rosa but was stopped at the Battle of Washoe House.

Credit Due: Copperfield’s Tom Mantan said in an interview in the Press Democrat on Sunday that it’s not just about the books, it’s about connecting.

So connect, already!

Lynn Millar

Mike got the week off, so these are old pictures and somewhat related to the text. The first picture is the east shore of Cape Cod, almost  Martha’s Vineyard and the North Sea.

I thought about linking all the above places to their websites, but it’s too tedious and you know how to look up stuff. Or try being like Pooh and explore.

See you on the trail!

10 Things to do on a Rainy Day

Meanwhile back to walking…


8 thoughts on “10 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Sonoma County

    • Thanks. Rainy Day posts are very popular every time it rains. I should do some new things – tried to go to the library today, but it was closed. – Any suggestions? – Lynn

  1. Another thought is going to The Last Record Store, here in Santa Rosa, in Guerneville take in a movie at The Rio Theater. Oliver’s has wonderful soup.

    • Thanks for the suggestions. Last Record Store is great idea – as well as the soup at Oliver’s. Rio Theater (in Monte Rio) shows are late afternoon and evening so that might not help the rain blues, but is a fun place to go.

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