8Great: Healdsburg, California
by Stefanie Michaels
Healdsburg, in Sonoma County is a charming town and great escape for those interested in great foods and wines of Northern California.
I’ve traveled much of Northern California’s wine country areas–Napa and Sonoma Valley’s are about an hour to two hours drive north of San Francisco. However, it was my first time to the town of Healdsburg, which comprises of an adorable downtown complete with a Hollywood movie-set like town square, where locals meet most afternoons to watch their children climb trees, while chatting over lattes.
Healdsburg is known for doing its own thing, garnering an eclectic vibe of art and sculpture galleries, ice cream shops, coffee houses and farm to table restaurants of the highest caliber.
The exceptional offerings of wine is inescapable here, and thankfully so, because of Healdsburg’s surroundings by several of Northern California’s finest regional wine appellations, including Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley.
Visitors will find over 100 world class wineries and tasting rooms of Sonoma County’s wine country.
Here’s my 8Great list:
1. Where to Stay: I stayed at the chic Duchamp Hotel, just off of the main square. With just six exclusive private suites, complete with fireplaces in each, it’s an urban oasis tucked away on a quiet back street. Rooms are modern and beautifully appointed. Poolside is mostly for summers, but hanging around in the evenings, makes for the perfect meeting place to recap the day’s adventures. 421 Foss St Healdsburg, CA 95448
Another option is a bed n breakfast spot, set in a charming Queen Ann Victorian home, called the Haydon Street Inn, just a few short blocks from the Healdsburg Plaza. John and Keren are the owners of the inn and make staying here a pleasure. John, co-owner and former executive chef from Churchill Downs heads their kitchen with delectable breakfasts, and for evening wine receptions, they also serve delicious munchies and sometimes even handmade pizzas from our own wood-fired outdoor oven.
2. Dining is a must at these restaurants! Valette Restaurant. Dustin Valette and Aaron Garzini envisioned opening a restaurant together which would provide a canvas for Sonoma County farmers, winemakers and artisans to showcase their craft. In 2015, Valette Restaurant opened its doors to the public, showcasing the brothers’ combined forty-seven years of restaurant experience and a deep dedication to Sonoma Country and its food and wine community They serve a house collection of boutique, small production wines.
Dry Creek Kitchen is set on Healdsburg’s historic tree lined Plaza, and melds vibrant American cooking with world class bottelings. Grab a seat on their patio for an outdoor evening dining experience.
3. The Armstrong Redwoods Guided Tour is something to not be missed. Walk around giant Sequoia, commonly known as the coast redwood. Walking tours with a guide are optional and must be planned in advance. It’s truly a place to gaze upwards at this natural wonder and take in the peace and solace of the forest.
4. Grab lunch at Healdsburg SHED, an eclectic mix of part home goods shop, boutique market and cafe. It is the winner of a 2014 James Beard Award for restaurant design. Their modern Grange reflects the best of Healdsburg local farming culture, delivering a seasonally curated selection of workshops, wares, and freshly prepared foods to guests. Their mission is to celebrate and nurture the connection between good farming, good cooking, and good eating.
5. Have you ever envisioned yourself making your own wood fired pizzas at home? Then a must visit is to Mugnaini, a place to oogle over pizza ovens. Since 1989, Mugnaini is America’s most experienced and knowledgeable open-hearth oven company, priding themselves on customer service as much as the quality of their ovens. Stop in and get a lesson on how to cook with their ovens, and share a pizza or two!
6. Shop the square and tuck in to some of the finest art galleries around, featuring local artisans. One of my favorites is the Dovetail Furniture Gallery featuring an uncommon collection of furniture, home décor, jewelry, art glass, pottery, textiles and gift items.
Journeyman Meat Co. owned by acclaimed winemaker Pete Seghesio, who embraced a long-standing family traditions melding old Italian recipes to their salumi, sausage and cured meats and winemaking.
Stopping in to The Nectary for a mind, body and spirit recharge for your day! The Nectary provides plant and flower based beverages and are the first health bar in this Planetary Biosphere to be cross-pollinated and inspired by ancient to modern modalities of healing.
7. The Hand Fan Museum is something you won’t experience anywhere else. Part historical and educational all at the same time, it’s a snapshot into the past where actual hand fans from around the world teach us something about their place in history. It’s the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to hand fans and displays a permanent collection, as well as a rotating exhibit, that tell, often in beguiling detail, the stories of the cultures and individuals who used them.
8. A super fun place to not only wine taste, but olive oil taste, too, is Trattore Farms Winery and Tasting Room. “Trattore” is translated from the Italian word for tractor, is the suitable name for the land where 40 acres in Dry Creek Valley, planted in vineyards and olive trees. The ranch pays tribute to rich farming traditions in the vineyard and attention to detail in the cellar come together to produce our collection of wines and olive oils.
Stefanie Michaels, aka ‘Adventure Girl’, spends more than 180 days a year on the road seeking out great spots for adventures, dining, shopping, hotels and more. Dubbed “America’s Sweetheart” by Vanity Fair Magazine for being one of Twitter’s first icon’s to reach over 1 million followers, her fans continue to grow across all of her digital media platforms. Follow her @adventuregirl as she shares photos, updates and more.