Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma

In the lush wine country of Sonoma County, just beyond Napa Valley, sits a unique outdoor garden, 9 acres of installations by the world’s leading landscape architects and designers. It’s not exactly a famous place, but it’s a big deal.

But just getting there is a treat in itself. The views from the highways between Napa and Sonoma are reason enough to make this drive, if you ask me.

Sonoma Napa Valley

Cornerstone Sonoma is a collection of shops, wine tasting bars, restaurants, art galleries, and Cornerstone Gardens, where some seriously talented designers have been given plots of land to do what they do best. The result is an eclectic mix of spaces, each different, reflecting the designer’s vision and unique use of materials and color, like this one, a desert scene with storm clouds:

Cornerstone Gardens

At the entrance to each space is information about the designers and other locations where you can encounter their work. It’s cool to see places like New York City and Tokyo listed next to Sonoma, California.

Cornerstone Gardens

cornerstone gardens

The colorful installation honoring Mexican farm workers in California is one of my favorites.

Cornerstone Gardens

Cornerstone Gardens

Cornerstone Gardens

Cornerstone Gardens

Cornerstone Gardens

The views around the gardens aren’t bad either.

Sonoma vineyards

There is a lot of sculpture scattered around the grounds of Cornerstone Sonoma, too.

Sonoma art

sculpture Sonoma

Sonoma County sculpture

Cornerstone Gardens is one of my favorite places to take my kids. They love being able to explore and interact with each space. My older son now has questions about why the installations were made this way and what they mean.

kid friendly Sonoma

kids activities Sonoma

Cornerstone Sonoma sits just about 2 miles south of the lovely town of Sonoma, but for us, Downtown Napa is also on the way home. I love spending time on Napa’s Riverfront.

Napa Riverfront

One of the perks of living in Sacramento is that places like Sonoma and Cornerstone Gardens are less than 90 minutes away. The views leaving the wine country are beautiful, but fortunately, I can always come back…

Napa sunset

Napa Valley sunset

Cornerstone Sonoma is free and open seven days a week 10:00-5:00, but the gardens close at 4:00. Parking is also free. Cornerstone Gardens makes the perfect day trip from San Francisco or Sacramento and is a must-visit when traveling through Northern California wine country.

19 Comments

  • Andi says:

    I’m sad I missed this place when I was there a couple of months ago, looks awesome!

    • Jenna says:

      You’ll have to check it out when you and Lucas have your little ones to travel with šŸ™‚

  • Ive never heard of Cornerstone so thanks for the intro. Maybe similar to di Rosa which is also about local artists and outdoor art, which is still on my list. I love the dog!
    monique at bringingtravelhome recently posted..fresh airMy Profile

  • How very cool! I need to check out this place next time I’m in Napa. Maybe you could show me around. šŸ™‚
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: A motorcyclist in MontmartreMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Yes! Next time you plan to come to CA, let me know. I would love to hang out in the Napa/Sonoma area with you šŸ™‚

  • jill says:

    It’s always great getting to know some of the wineries in the area from you. Have you ever been to Anderson Valley (near Philo)? Lots of good ones there, especially if you like white.
    jill recently posted..Chasing Lava Flow in Big Island, HawaiiMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I’ve been to Anderson Valley but just once. My mom has an annual tradition of camping there, just outside of Cloverdale, north of Healdsburg. We joined her last year and just loved it. I plan to spend some time there in May this year. Thanks for the wine tip!

  • Leigh says:

    I’ve never heard of this place but I love visiting gardens – and anything related to Napa and Sonoma. I’ll have to remember this for my next visit – especially since I got an invite to ride the Wine Train today – so maybe it will be sooner rather than later.
    Leigh recently posted..Discovering Bogota, Colombia via a Bike TourMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      One interesting note about this place is that it changes. I don’t know how often, but it was different the second time I was here–more installations and some of them had changed.
      I rode the Wine Train last year. It was fun–the old train cards are so grand! Let me know when you come this way. Maybe we could meet for coffee or something. šŸ™‚

  • Maria says:

    Kudos on this post. Lovin’ “desert scene with storm clouds” and if I hadn’t read this post I’d have thought there was far less to the area. Thanks!

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks, Maria. The area is great, but this place definitely adds an eclectic, artsy, and innovative feel to it.

  • Wow. I’ve lived in the bay area my whole life and haven’t heard about this place. We make it up to Napa plenty of times, but not Sonoma. Thanks for pointing this place out.
    Gerard ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Chasing Sunrise and Dolphins in BaliMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      You will have to go not only to Cornerstone but also to the Sonoma area! It is a bit closer to you and is full of so many surprises. Actually, it’s an area I don’t know well yet. It’s just a little farther from Sacramento than Napa is, so we make it to Napa Valley much more often.

  • Tricia says:

    What a lovely setting, Jenna, and imaginative spots for little ones to explore! Each time you post on Napa/Sonoma, my list of wineries/places to visit keeps growing. A great excuse to return, I suppose. šŸ™‚
    Tricia recently posted..Sailing the Adriatic: A Day Trip from Trogir, CroatiaMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I hope when you do return (which you should, because there really is so much), we can meet! šŸ™‚

  • This is great! We avoid Napa like the plague but love Sonoma (though AV is amazing if you’re up or the drive). We’ve never been to Cornerstone but we’ll definitely work it into our next trip to Sonoma. So, glad I came across this!

    • Jenna says:

      Glad you did, too, because I think you’ll enjoy it! It’s funky and interesting and really fun for the kids. I also love the whole Sonoma and Anderson Valley area but often end up going to Napa Valley because it’s a bit closer for me than Sonoma County.

  • Christine says:

    Hi, my husband my sweet 18 pound no shedding Havanese and I are driving from Calgary to Palm Springs via the west coast. Estimated departure date dec 20or 21. With the arrival in Palm Springs on Jan 1.
    I am hoping , weather and roads permitting to get to Spokane night 1, Portland night 2. Then I want to slow down and enjoy. It does seem to me however that I want to get to Northern CA as quickly as possible. So far I have loved what I have read on your happiness places. Thanks
    I am most open to any suggestions. I will have to deal with holiday planning.
    Thanks
    C

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