How Santa Rosa Stands Out for Meetings in Sonoma County, California
For groups that have their sights set on Sonoma County, consider Santa Rosa, California as your hub.
Just 50 miles north of San Francisco and centrally located to all this famed wine region has to offer, Santa Rosa is a great central location boasting group-ready hotels, unique venues and a growing arts and culture scene—in addition to the abundant outdoor scenery and libations, of course.
“There's definitely something for everyone, whether you're here for business or leisure or a combination of both. It's a really lovely mix,” said Lindsay Musco, director of business development for Visit Santa Rosa.
Musco said that Santa Rosa is best geared to serve mid-size to small groups, corporate and associations as well as incentive groups. A fair amount of philanthropy events and nonprofits flock to the area as well, thanks to Sonoma County’s large nonprofit presence. Additionally, Musco added that with Santa Rosa’s easy drive location from San Francisco, she sees many groups in the Bay Area add Santa Rosa to their program for a day trip, or travelers extending their stay by tacking on a day to explore the city and its surroundings before or after meetings and conventions in San Francisco.
Whether you’re planning a day trip or a multi-day meeting in California, explore more reasons why you should consider Sonoma County’s vibrant, largest city.
Santa Rosa Venues
Several resorts have undergone renovations in the last two years in Santa Rosa. Flamingo Resort, one of the area’s best meeting hotels, completed significant renovations in 2021, revamping its 170 guest rooms and suites, meeting spaces, lobby and more. The mid-century-style resort offers 20,000 square feet of flexible indoor-outdoor meeting space and its in-house team offers corporate retreat and wellness retreat packages with activities like hiking, stargazing, wine tours, yoga, meditation and more.
Other new and renovated hotels include:
- AC Hotel Santa Rosa Sonoma Wine Country, located in Santa Rosa’s historic Railroad Square, opened in 2020 with 142 guest rooms and three event spaces, the largest of which can host 60. The hotel takes inspiration from a blend of Spanish roots and European style and is centrally located for easy access to both Sonoma Wine County and Sonoma County Airport.
- Art House Hotel, a boutique hotel in downtown Santa Rosa, opened in 2021 near the city’s shopping, nightlife and breweries. The hotel has 36 rooms, including standard guest rooms, suites and apartments, and a small meeting space.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Santa Rosa opened in late 2022 with 100 rooms and is marketed as a “comfy respite” near Sonoma County’s top wineries. It’s also 30 minutes from Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve, 10 minutes from downtown Santa Rosa and two miles from the Charles M. Schulz Museum.
Though not new, meeting planners shouldn’t overlook Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country, which offers some of the most comprehensive event space in Santa Rosa—40,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor event space plus 253 rooms make this property a nice option for small-to-mid-size groups.
Wine and Beer in Santa Rosa
One of Santa Rosa’s biggest attractions, of course, is Wine Country. Serving as an ideal homebase to the 425-plus wineries, there’s no shortage of memorable vino experiences for fans of the grape. Paradise Ridge Winery is, in fact, a winery within the city limits of Santa Rosa, making award-winning wines with sweeping views of the Russian River Valley vineyards.
“It has a beautiful panoramic view of Santa Rosa and out to the foothills that just separates us from the coast,” Musco said. “Is has some really interesting heritage and history here in Sonoma County.”
While wine steals the spotlight, what visitors to Santa Rosa might be surprised to find is a fast-growing and thriving microbrewery scene. Russian River Brewing Company is a renowned option in the world of beer lovers, winning dozens of awards from the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. Visitors can sample brews at the original downtown location or the newer brewpub location in Santa Rosa, which opened in 2018 and spans 85,000 square feet with an outdoor beer garden, tasting room, two acres of free parking and guided tours. More than 25 breweries call Santa Rosa home, in addition to Russian River.
“We are where Wine Country meets beer city, where world-class wine meets the epicenter of American craft beer,” Visit Santa Rosa proclaims.
Santa Rosa Arts and Culture
While Sonoma County is famous for its wine, elegant restaurants and eye-popping scenery, Santa Rosa can offer groups more than the pretty fluff. Its burgeoning arts and culture scene brings a deeper experience for visitors.
“I think the other thing that's kind of cool about Santa Rosa is, Sonoma County is super well-known for wine and weddings. It's beautiful. The weather is lovely…but [Santa Rosa] is just a little bit edgier,” said Janelle Meyers, executive director for Visit Santa Rosa.
Performing arts centers and intimate venues to experience new music, a variety of museums—including the Charles M. Schulz Museum to explore the life of the creator of Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang—and a thriving arts scene are all available within Santa Rosa’s city limits.
The city also prides itself on its welcoming atmosphere, home to a large LGBTQ community. Visit Santa Rosa's website lists recommendations of LGBTQ-friendly hotels and LGBTQ-owned businesses that travelers can support when in town for business or leisure.
“Everyone here is super opened minded,” Meyers said.
Sonoma County's Outdoor Playground
For attendees that crave time outside, there are a plethora of activities at their fingertips in Santa Rosa.
“We have lovely urban and outdoor space in Santa Rosa; we have a lot of great parks that you're able to kind of get out and explore natural wonders,” Musco said.
Work group hikes into the agenda, like an excursion to see some of the oldest and tallest trees in California at Armstrong Woods State Park.
Many endurance athletes flock to Santa Rosa for training and races. According to Visit Santa Rosa, the destination hosts marathons and half marathons (some through vineyards!) and has staged multiple IRONMANS and IRONMANS 70.3. Cyclists, in particular, should take note of the Santa Rosa area—from road biking to mountain biking, there are many trails throughout the area. Groups can rent bikes to explore the paved trails in town or book a tour with Pedego Electric Bike Rentals and Tours to explore Wine Country on wheels.
“Santa Rosa is so centrally located and gives you the ability to experience both—the city center, Santa Rosa and all of the immediate, neighboring cities that are really unique destinations,” Musco said. “You can have it all, so to speak.”
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This article was produced in partnership with Visit California