Healdsburg is Wine Country at it’s best! It’s everything you expect Napa to be — tasty, wine centered, friendly little town, but isn’t.
Travel Goal: Sip artisan wine and picnic next to a bubbling creek surrounded by vineyards shaded by redwood trees. Dine at farm-to-table restaurants in a quaint country village.
You could spend 3 days in Napa County, but you already know I suggest that you skip Napa and Try This.. Sonoma. If you want small-batch-wines, narrow-roads, and possibly the most picturesque town square in California you will want to go beyond Sonoma….
Try This Healdsburg
Less than one and one half hour drive north of San Francisco, Healdsburg is the best of wine country nestled next to the redwood forest. Drive or bike down winding West Side Drive through valleys of vineyards – link to video.
There are dozens of artisan wineries only 30 minutes out of Healdsburg, all clearly labeled on the Sonoma County Wine Map. Drive east to Russian River Valley famous for Pinot Noir or head north to warm Dry Creek Valley an unexpected Zinfandel region thanks to it’s unusually hot temperature. Unlike Napa or Sonoma there is a good chance you will be the only people in the tasting room.
Healdsburg is the ideal wine country town in part because a dozen wineries have tasting rooms in town. So if you prioritize drinking over driving (I certainly do) you can simply walk to your tastings, delightful!
Park the car for a day and wander around Healdsburg village square exploring boutiques and art galleries, snacking on sweet treats from Mustache Baked Goods, and of-course tasting wine. Relax in the red-wood and palm tree shaded town square while enjoying a free jazz concert on Tuesday nights.
My favorite area wineries are: Thumbprint, VML, Truet Hurst, Preston, Bella, Matrix, and Williams. If you want to change it up Bear Republic Brewery is in town, locals flock to John & Zekes dive bar, and H2 Hotel shakes up stellar cocktails if your liver can take it.
Accommodations range from exceptional H2Hotel and Hotel Healdsburg to the walking distance low-price America’s Best Value Lodge in addition to vacation rentals and B&B’s.
Try This… Picnic!
There are two great grocery stores selling everything you need for a very best of California picnic and Healdsburg area wineries are ALL set up with excellent outdoor picnic areas, I like VML, Truett Hurst, Hop Kiln, and Korbel.
1) Oakville Grocery is in town on the square.
2) Dry Creek General Store — 15 minutes out of town this grocery is unassuming if you didn’t see the crowd outside. Try This… belly up for a beer at the Dry Creek Bar/vintage-hole-in-the-wall.
Try MORE… Day Trips
- Float The Russian River: Guided Kayak or Canoe tours with everything you need at Rivers Edge Healdsburg – I absolutely love this!!!
- Farm Fresh Oysters: Drive out for a day trip Tamales Bay and go to either Hog Island or Tamales Bay Oyster Companies.
Next time you are vacationing in Northern California wine country after you’ve been to Napa… Try This Sonoma. Once you’ve tried Sonoma take it up a notch and… Try This Healdsburg.
I enjoyed your previous post “After Napa, try Sonoma”, and this one as well. I’ve been wondering if Healdsburg would be a worthwhile destination, and you answered that. Thanks Sara!
Thank you Steve! Totally worth a drive north, for just a day or a weekend. Enjoy -Sara
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