Cities Journal
Rankings

Top 21 Small Cities In California

12. Sonoma
Photo credit: Suzi Rosenberg / Flickr

4. Sonoma

Tucked away into an ancient valley near San Francisco, Sonoma occupies a prized place in the heart of California Wine Country. From its historic Mexican colonial town plaza, El Pueblo de Sonoma, to its annual Sonoma International Film Festival, this town is where history, culture, and art come together.

According to the city’s official website, even its street grid still follows the original designs of General Mariano Vallejo, who turned Sonoma into a pueblo-style community and built the plaza that still stands today.

While Sonoma was once the capital of the seceded California Republic, then known as the Bear Flag Republic, it’s now the unofficial capital of its multi-billion-dollar wine industry. Sonoma is also said industry’s birthplace: General Vallejo brought viticulture to the missionary town in 1823, a century before the Roaring Twenties would give Californians a much different relationship with spirits.

The City of Sonoma notes a connection between Sonoma Valley’s thriving, fruitful agriculture and Sonoma’s incredible range of fine dining choices. Five-star restaurants share streets with affordable cafés, and you can choose from a variety of international cuisine that ranges from Nepalese to French.

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