The 4-Hour Rule: Santa Rosa

It’s still beautiful, and needs your support

By Diane Rommel

Best Way to Help Sonoma Recover? Visit.
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26 January 2018

The last time you saw Santa Rosa, it was likely on the news — and huge swaths of it were burning to the ground.

First responders and courageous locals saved what they could.

Now, our favorite destination in Sonoma County is healing.

It’s open for business for the most part, so grab your wallet, head north, and start spending


There’s now no better way to get to Wine Country. Forget the hoi polloi rental car agencies: You’ll spend less with Silvercar, which also kicks in that Golden Gate Bridge toll you’ll pay on the way home and fills the tank on return at the average neighborhood rate — not some extortionate multiple of it. It also offers the book-by-app convenience of, say, Zipcar, but with Audis of your choice (including the 2018 Q5) instead of, like, a Honda Fit. If you have a better way to zip up the 101, fill us in. Oh and pro tip? They’re offering 30% to all InsideHook readers who are first-time users. Just use the code INSIDERHOOKUP at checkout.

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The Sandman is the classic California motel of yore, with complimentary wifi and a pool heated year-round to 86 degrees. Solid updates on the concept include a super-stylish lobby (check the coffee table with the webbed shelf) and a mini-kitchen with a fridge and microwave. It’s a miracle the hotel survived the fires — the night manager had to extinguish fireballs landing on the property.


For brunch, you want to head to downtown Santa Rosa’s arts district for Spinster Sisters — skip the waffles, get the bagel, and if you have a kid, make the choice to delight them with the chocolate doughnut holes. For dinner, make a res at Bird and the Bottle, a pan-American spot that’s part of the Stark restaurant empire (and employs some of the Stark employees displaced when their wine bar, Willi’s, burned down). Don’t miss the mini burgers.


Though some of the trails are closed due to fire damage, you can still get lost under the trees in Trione-Annadel State Park, even better if you’re on a mountain bike (or a horse — there are a ton of horse-friendly facilities here, so … giddy up). For something quicker, bring binoculars and head for the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail, which passes by a classic Santa Rosa vineyard and treks through a wetland filled with birds.


There are plenty of vineyards here, especially along Olivet Road, but Hook & Ladder is the only one founded by a former S.F. firefighter — his second vineyard in Sonoma County and the beneficiary of his nearly half-century of winemaking experience.

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