How to Perfect the Art of the Picnic
Let’s start by aligning on the fact that there is in fact an art to picnicking, especially in Sonoma where we take this practice very seriously! With so many fragrant gardens, lush parks and beachside settings nearby, plus access to so many artisan provisions and libations, it’s no wonder picnicking is a lifestyle in wine country. Read on for our team of locals’ tips on how to perfect the art of the picnic – a magical pastime indeed.
We are firm believers in marrying form and function, and our approach to picnics is no different (although we may lean into the “form” faction a bit more). Skip the slapdash approach, and take an extra moment to curate a functional picnic setup that is also beautiful and of course, photo-worthy. Our top 4 favorite items:
Nipomo Blanket Roll
These colorful and comfy blankets are designed by Nipomo‘s mother-daughter team out of San Francisco, and handwoven in Mexico by skilled artisans. The leather straps are hand-made out of vegetable tanned leather that ages nicely with use. Pictured above, available on the MacArthur Market.
Canasta Chica Basket
Also made by Nipomo, this structured basket is lovingly handmade from dried and woven palm fronds – the perfect lightweight vessel to hold your picnic goodies. Pictured above, available on the MacArthur Market.
Juno Straw Hat
This is the end-all-be-all straw hat for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that this oh-so-stylish piece is packable! Also, this and all hats from Bay Area sister duo at Kin the Label, are sustainably crafted. Available at The Spa at MacArthur and on Kin the Label.
MiiR Wine Tumblers
Enjoy your favorite white, rosé or other chilled (or hot) beverage on-the go is these sleek MiiR double-insulated 10 oz wine tumblers, accented with the MacArthur pomegranate. Pictured above, available on the MacArthur Market.
In the heart of wine country’s culinary mecca, there is no shortage of delicious artisanal bites and provisions within a stone’s throw of MacArthur Place. A few of our favorites:
Taub Family Outpost
Newly opened, this clever mixed-use space offers a marketplace, dining and a speakeasy in a historic two-story building on the Plaza. The marketplace boasts well-curated wines, sandwiches, tinned specialty foods, cheeses, crackers, chocolates and other seasonal offerings to build an outstanding picnic basket. And, wait for it, a coffee and frosé window! Learn more at Taub Family Outpost.
A quaint country mercantile at the crossroads of 8th Street East and East Napa Street (right at the entrance of Bartholomew Estate and Buena Vista wineries), with an impressive assortment of local cheeses, crackers, jams, pickled goods, house-made sandwiches and salads, and an extensive selection of rose in their wine shop annex. View deli menu at Sonoma’s Best.
Valley Bar + Bottle
Newly-minted neighborhood favorite from four Scribe veterans, Valley offers refreshingly unique farm-fresh dishes and food-friendly wines (lots of imports!), mostly organic and biodynamic. Stop in to buy a bottle from their expertly-curated wine shop, which is right on the Plaza. Read Valley Bar + Bottle co-owners Tanner and Lauren’s “perfect day in Sonoma” itinerary…including a picnic on the Plaza of course!
Jack’s Filling Station
Located kitty-corner from MacArthur Place, Jack’s Filling Station is, obviously, a filling station but also a hidden gem of a convenience store specializing in craft beer and natural wines as well as craveable snacks. Learn more at Jack’s Filling Station.
We’d be remiss not to mention our very own coffee shop and marketplace, The Porch. In addition to paninis, sandwiches, grain bowls and housemade pastries, we offer adaptogen tinctures, bee pollen, hemp honey sticks, locally-made teas, CBD drinks and other wellness provisions. Plus picnic-worthy wines by the can such as Ferdinand Albarino, Paper Planes Rosé and Las Jaras pink, red and white wines. Learn more and view sample menus here.
Pinpoint the Perfect Spot.
The options are vast and far-reaching, so you can almost (almost!) close your eyes, point on a map and find an idyllic picnic spot. But why leave the penultimate piece of the perfect picnic plan to chance?! Here are several locales that will not disappoint, in order from nearest to furthest.
The West Lawn at MacArthur
No map needed. Step outside of your guestroom and head to the west side of the property where you can’t miss our vast West Lawn – a swath of plush grass lined by stately gingko trees, dotted with shady benches under rose-covered arches. This verdant respite is available anytime to guests of MacArthur Place. Pictured above.
Also known as “the Plaza” or “the Square,” this 1 block x 1 block garden oasis in the center of town is a great spot for a picnic, flanked by historic architecture (1908 stately stone City Hall building at the entrance as well as Mission Solano across the street) and shaded by statuesque trees. Bring a blanket and find a spot in the grass, sit on stone walls by the fountains or at one of the picnic tables. It’s Sonoma, so it’s allowed to BYOB. Pro tips: (a) do some duck watching, it’s a must. (b) check out the lively Tuesday night Farmer’s Market from May – October – great local produce and provisions, food trucks, live music and a convivial locals scene where the art of picnicking is taken to the next level. Learn more at The City of Sonoma.
This historic 300-acre estate is celebrated as the birthplace of modern viticulture, dating back to 1857 when it was planted to vine by Agoston Haraszthy. Under new stewardship by the philanthropic Bartholomew Foundation, this hidden gem offers wine tasting, picnicking, hiking and horseback riding. Start with a 3-mile hike winding through mature oaks, madrones, redwoods and vineyards. Then grab a bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc or other small-lot, organically-farmed wines and enjoy a picnic in the park’s pastoral setting. Learn more at Bartholomew Estate Winery.
Make a day trip of your picnic excursion, and head to the coast. One of our absolute favorites is Limantour Beach on the Point Reyes National Seashore, about an hour and 15 minutes from MacArthur by car. A long, narrow spit of sand (bound between Drakes Bay and an estuary), Limantour is a bountiful wildlife area with scores of shorebirds and the occasional mother gray whale sighting in the spring, guiding their calves along the shoreline. Hike 5 minutes out to the beach, find a secluded spot in the dunes and enjoy a leisurely picnic while watching the azure waves roll into the beach. Learn more at the National Park Service.
Make the travel part of the journey with a non-traditional mode of transport!
Hop on a stylish Blix Bike, free to guests of MacArthur Place, for a scenic pedal. With a 45-mile range, these user-friendly electric bikes are a great way to take in the sights of Sonoma and its surrounding environs while en route to your picnic spot. The handy-dandy basket in front is perfect for holding a picnic basket, a baguette, flowers…or bottles of wine.
Bohemian Highway Defender
For the ultimate picnic excursion, make it an overnight with a vintage Land Rover Defender complete with a rooftop tent and essential camp gear, available to rent from our friends at Bohemian Highway Travel Co. Picnic nirvana achieved! Learn more at Bohemian Highway Travel Co.
For those looking for a fully-curated experience, we suggest our exclusive Behind the Cellar Door wine tour with Bohemian Highway Travel Co. You’ll be whisked away in a vintage Land Rover Defender or luxury SUV to three off-the-beaten path boutique wineries and have an in-depth look at the vineyards and winemaking process. Enjoy a picnic prepared by our chef at Layla, with the Mayacamas mountain range as your backdrop. By day’s end, you’ll understand why Sonoma Valley was named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast for its unwavering commitment to sustainability and to producing world class wines. Learn more about Behind the Cellar Door.