It sounds like clickbait. But it’s truer than true—one trip to the rolling hills of Sonoma County can not only change the way you travel, it can actually inspire you to live with more presence, awareness, and mindfulness every day.
To state the obvious, Sonoma County is beautiful. Like really beautiful. With awe-inspiring views, trees that are older than most buildings, and countless opportunities to immerse oneself in nature, the natural surroundings of Sonoma County will literally stop you in your tracks and cause you to pause. And it is within this pause that the magic happens. Because in that extra moment, that breathtaking beat where time catches in midair, mindfulness has space to do its work. Pausing yields big effects that can be felt and seen all throughout Sonoma County and beyond, making your trip—and your life—more meaningful in many ways.
For one, mindful moments are more memorable. Everyone is familiar with taking “mental snapshots” of moments during a trip or event. But how many of those snapshots actually stick with us? By taking a mindful moment to pause and be present, our body and brain have time to deeply experience and record what’s happening around us, awakening all five senses and creating a new, lasting memory.
Kick off your visit to Sonoma County with an activity to bring you into the present moment and slow things down, like forest bathing at Red Car Wine. Surrounded by the forest and vineyards, a certified guide will lead you through a meditation—a mindful pause—to set the tone for your trip. After this grounding experience, you’ll be ready to meander down the hillside to savor the wine sourced from that very vineyard and feel the effects of your practice.
Rather than zipping from one activity to the next in a car, slow things down and take the scenic route on a bike tour with Getaway Adventures. Whether you’re an avid cyclist or beginner, there’s a trail for you here. Pause to take in the natural beauty as you pedal through back-country roads, quaint villages, and stunning coastline on your way to world-class wineries and eateries, and the trip is guaranteed to be even more memorable than the destination.
Mindful pauses do more than create lasting memories. They also have a way of inviting a sense of purpose into every choice we make, from where we stay to how we get around and even where we choose to shop. By pausing to consider what to bring, what to wear for comfort, and which local businesses to support, mindfulness helps us plan ahead to ensure we can act in alignment with our intentions.
It’s easy to find accommodations that allow you to travel responsibly throughout Sonoma County, thanks to a partnership with Kind Traveler, a hotel booking and education platform that empowers you to make a positive community and environmental impact to the destinations you visit. Travelers who choose to donate $10 to a local charity will unlock special rates and exclusive perks from Kind Traveler’s list of “kind hotels” in the area.
Sonoma County’s opportunities for mindfulness extend into its many restaurants that source exclusively local ingredients—a practice that makes meals more seasonable, sustainable, and exciting. At restaurants like Little Saint, which has its own farm, the entire ecosystem is considered when planning their menu to make use of what’s freshest and ready for harvest.
In addition to some of the most incredible farm-to-table dining available, Little Saint is pioneering the thoughtful concept of closed-loop cocktails: delightful spirits and zero-proof beverages made from ingredients that minimize waste across both the kitchen and bar.
Looking to raise a glass? One mindful moment will allow you to do it while promoting equality and supporting LGBTQA+ businesses. Plan to stop by Brew Coffee and Beer House for locally-sourced coffee, beer and baked goods. Or visit the tasting room at Mercury Wine and experience the Bordeaux-style blends they’re known for in the tight-knit community, openly gay winemaker Brad Beard, was delighted to find. Wherever you decide to imbibe, a mindful pause can offer clarity among choices that align with your values. And since 99% of the vineyards in Sonoma County are certified sustainable, those choices are abundant.
While planning your meals at any one of our restaurants, a moment’s pause to consider those who do not have enough to eat could turn into a memorable morning of service—and a lifetime of mindfulness. Farm to Pantry is a nonprofit that goes onto more than 350 farms and backyards throughout Sonoma County, harvesting produce that would otherwise be discarded and sharing it with marginalized families. That same day, it is distributed to those in need. Visitors can join in by volunteering for three hours at a time, taking in the amazing views while connecting more deeply to where our food comes from. An experience such as this is likely to form not only an incredible memory, but a new mindset as well; one that’s likely to change the way we think and act when it comes to wasting food.
The best part about mindfulness is that it’s portable—and it won’t take up any space in your carry-on. While a visit to Sonoma County may offer endless opportunities to practice mindfully pausing, the effects can be felt long after one has left—environmentally, physically and mentally. Embrace the pause to maximize your experiences wherever you go while minimizing your impact and you’ll discover more than mindful moments. You’ll uncover a transformative new way of living while inspiring others to do the same.