Seeking some adventure? Canoeing or kayaking down the picturesque Russian River (www.riversedgekayakandcanoe.com) or biking the surrounding vineyard areas are popular pastimes (www.spokefolk.com). During the summer you might want to visit Veterans Memorial Park for a picnic on the beach or a fun swim in the Russian River. “Cork Hopping” is Sonoma-speak for wine tasting at multiple stops. Many in-town tasting rooms eliminate the “driving while drinking” issue, and Kendall-Jackson, just off the Plaza and known for its premier Chardonnays, has been open the longest (www.kj.com). Our favorite nearby Healdsburg wineries for exceptional tasting experiences include Rodney Strong, known for first-rate Russian River Appellation Pinots and Chardonnays and big-name summer jazz concerts (www. rodneystrong.com); long-time personal favorite J Vineyards and Winery right next door to Strong and home to award-winning sparking wines (www.jwine.com); and FerrariCarano, which is as well-known for its five acres of exquisite gardens as their limited-release Chardonnays (www.ferrari-carano.com). After you leave Carano, we recommend driving the few extra minutes to nearby Lake Sonoma where a stunning overlook awaits, as well as all kinds of boating, fishing, picnicking, and camping (www.parks.sonoma.net/laktrls.html). Where to stay and dine: Healdsburg has wonderfully diverse options in lodging. Looking for historic? Our recent stay at the 1883 Honor Mansion, the only four-star property in town, provided a number of pleasant surprises. The Honor has the charm of a typical country inn or Bed and Breakfast, and prices include creative full American breakfasts, delectable evening appetizers, and wine—but when you factor in all the resort features like bocce ball, croquet, and tennis, a golf putting green, swimming pool, and even a small basketball court, with all equipment, balls, and racquets included at no cost, it really is a rare and distinctive 13-room resort (www. honormansion.com). Another history-filled inn is the classic 1881 Victorian Madrona Manor, where antique furnishings and accommodations are matched by their Michelin-starred restaurant (www.madronamanor.com). Both inns are about a mile from downtown.
SAN JOAQUIN MAGAZINE
CONCERTS AT RODNEY STRONG VINEYARDS
Prefer something really hip and in town-center?
You might like the new H2 Hotel (www.h2hotel.com) or its slightly older sibling, Hotel Healdsburg on the Plaza (www.hotelhealdsburg.com). The H.H. is home to famed New York celebrity-chef Charlie Palmer’s multi-awarded Dry Creek Restaurant, but the H2 is completely ecofriendly and supplies bikes to its visitors. Seeking a special value? Look no further than the Dry Creek Inn, a Best Western Plus property that amazed us at the quality of their quite stunning new Tuscan building. Rooms include a spa tub, fireplace, and continentalplus breakfasts (www.drycreekinn.com). Other restaurants in town of special note: Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar was recently renovated to handle their increased popularity and remains a locals and visitors favorite (www.willisseafood.net). Healdsburg Bar and Grill is a fun place with al fresco dining, a lively sports bar atmosphere, and satisfying comfort food (www.healdsburgbarandgrill.com). Oakville Grocery, near the Plaza, serves as a welcome reminder that their deli sandwiches are the best in town (www.oakvillegrocery. com). For crème-de-la-crème baked goods and homemade ice creams, be sure to drop into Downtown Bakery and Creamery (www.downtownbakery.net).
Final observation: The rare combination of Historic meets Hip really works in this attractive little “burg.”
For all info on Healdsburg, visit www.healdsburg.com