Sonoma Plaza

The crown jewel of the California wine country isn’t a winery or vineyard: it is the 8-acre Sonoma Plaza, located at the center of the City of Sonoma. You can spend days exploring the historic sites; wine tasting rooms; restaurants; and shops that surround this iconic treasure. Download map of Sonoma Plaza (PDF).

Photo of Sonoma Plaza Playground

Sonoma Plaza for Children

SNIPPET: You don't need to go any further than the town square to give your kids lots of entertainment.

BEST FOR: Families with young kids needing to burn off some energy. Grab some picnic supplies and settle down for a few hours.

Aerial View of Sonoma Plaza

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History of Sonoma Plaza

mission_postcard_01In 1823, Padre Jose Altimira of Spain established The Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma (Sonoma Mission) on land  situated at the northeast corner of today’s Plaza. Sonoma Mission was the northern most Mission on the Camino Real,  and was established to deter Russian incursions from the north.

 

 

history_plazaIn 1836, Mexico’s territorial governor for the area, General Mariano Guadelupe Vallejo,  laid-out  The Plaza’s eight acres and the surrounding street grid, turning Sonoma from a mission outpost to a Mexican style pueblo. He built the Barracks for Mexican army troops across the street from the Sonoma Mission, and he built his family’s first Sonoma home, La Casa Grande, on the west side. For a short time, Sonoma Plaza was the center of trade north of San Francisco.

 

plaza_sonoma_cityIn 1908, Sonoma’s City Hall was built in the center of the Plaza – it was designed with four identical facades so that merchants from any side of the square could say the City Hall faced their businesses. Made of basalt stone from local quarries, the City of Sonoma government offices still remain in this central landmark of the valley.

Sonoma Plaza Parking

Free parking around the Sonoma Plaza just got a little more leisurely.  The free parking time limit around and near the historic Sonoma Plaza was increased from 2-hours to 3-hours.  This may not seem like significant news, unless you consider that many cities have added parking fees or meters rather than extending time limits in order to generate revenues.

There are also several parking lots near the Sonoma Plaza that offer visitors, patrons and locals free all-day parking.  The Casa Grande Parking lot behind the Historic Mexican Army Barracks at 98 E Spain Street is the largest and can host all size vehicles.  See a map of the lot here.

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