Jan. 4, 2011

Downtown Sonoma is filled with early California history, being the site where the northern-most Franciscan mission was established and also where the Bear Flag revolt was launched by insurrectionists against Mexican control of California. Today the town of Sonoma is a walkable collection of eateries, shops, galleries and historic sites.

The 8- 1/2 acre town plaza, anchored by the basalt stone City Hall, is a city park with a duck pond, fountain, amphitheater, meandering pathways, lawns and large shade trees. The plaza is the setting for the weekly Tuesday evening summer farmers market, often with accompaning live music, and is also home to several annual festivals.

The annual Ox Roast is held on the first Sunday in June. Fourth of July features a traditional parade and pyrotechnic extravaganza; the Vintage Festival, which began in 1897, celebrates the harvest on the last weekend in September.

The candlelight procession to the Christmas service at Mission San Francisco Solano is a lovely, heartwarming Sonoma holiday tradition. Whatever time of the year, there is always something happening in this historic and beautiful town.

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