An area steeped in history, Sonoma is one of the most interesting cities in Sonoma Valley. The city was founded as a Mexican town in 1823 centered around a plaza that acted then, and continues to act today, as the hub of activity in the area. The Sonoma Plaza is the largest plaza in California at eight acres, and is surrounded by historically significant buildings, such as Mission San Francisco Solano (the last mission to be built on El Camino Real), the former Blue Wing Inn, where Ulysses S. Grant once spent the night, and the Sebastiani Theater.
Sonoma is near numerous fine wineries, and exudes a laid-back feel. There are many parks in the area, as well as the picturesque Sonoma bike path which runs through the town, just north of the plaza. The bike path can also be walked, and is lined by over 40 wineries. There are also about 30 restaurants in the area, almost all with fantastic wine lists.
The furthest point south and east in Sonoma Valley, Sonoma offers quaint, but often expensive hotels. Staying near the plaza puts guests close to restaurants, while staying towards the northern area of the city allows visitors easier access to wineries in other areas of Sonoma Valley, as well as the natural hot springs of nearby Boyes Hot Springs.