Sonoma County, California is on the radar of every oenophile, but let’s be honest, sometimes it’s great to experience the region without so much of a focus on wine. I love everything California and spent a few days in downtown Healdsburg and discovered there are some great activities that don’t necessarily involve day drinking.
Walking and Biking Tours in Healdsburg, CA
Wine Country Walking Tours leads guided walks throughout downtown Healdsburg that will take you on a foodie adventure, with or without the wine. There are a number of food-oriented walks that will show you why this town is a culinary hotspot, including a visit to a craft cocktail bar. On the TasteMakers Tour, guests can hear from chefs, culinary artisans, and fine artists who are using their inspiration and talents to establish Healdsburg as a mecca for wine, food, and the arts.
If you prefer pedaling to trekking on foot, Wine Country Bikes offers guided rides through the bucolic vineyards of Sonoma County, both slow-paced and adventurous. Yes, you can stop at tasting rooms along the way, but it’s not a requirement. Take in the fresh air as you pedal down the quaint country roads just listening to the sounds of nature. You can take a break from pedaling and stroll through the farms and vineyards, or sit on a sunny hillside and picnic before the next uphill climb.
The Best Hiking Spots In (And Near) Healdsburg, CA
Jordan Vineyard & Winery offers a moderate, scenic three-mile hike across their sprawling 1,200-acre ranch, which features amazing mountain views, secluded lakes, and excellent wildlife spotting opportunities. Be sure to bring your camera, too: Vista Point, the highest point on the ranch, offers postcard-worthy panoramic views. The hike also meanders through the chef’s garden, woods, meadows, rolling vineyards, and olive orchards. The three-hour hike concludes with a delicious picnic spread and wine pairing.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is just a short drive away (about a half-hour from Healdsburg, depending on the traffic) and offers the chance to see some of the tallest trees in the world. The park spans 805 acres and boasts 9.2 miles of scenic trails. Be sure to take a moment or two to admire the towering redwoods, some of which date back thousands of years. The oldest tree in the park, Colonel Armstrong, is over 1,400 years old; meanwhile, the park’s tallest tree (Parson Jones) is over 310 feet fall, which is around the size of Big Ben in London. Pack a picnic lunch (there are plenty of places to stop along the way to pick up food; local favorites include the bustling boon eat + drink and the rustic-chic Big Bottom Market) to enjoy after your hike
Shopping in Healdsburg, CA
Shopping doesn’t get much better than the market square area of downtown Healdsburg. Here, find a plethora of antique stores, pottery shops, bookstores, chic boutiques, and toy stores. Many of the products (think gifts, jewelry, arts and crafts, gourmet food products, and gifts) are hand-crafted by local artisans. This pet-friendly shopping district also includes several shops selling treats and accessories for your canine friends.
Where to Eat and Drink in Healdsburg, CA
Relish Culinary Center offers instructional cooking classes and authentic food experiences. Take one of the center’s hands-on workshops and learn to make pasta, and shrubs and pickles or the art of snout-to-tail butchering. You can also take a walk and learn to forage wild mushrooms. Local chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, and artisans like Dragonfly Floral often join in the fun, as well.
Meanwhile, the town of Healdsburg is home to an array of farm-to-table eateries, buzzy wine bars, and more. For a classic cup of Joe, visit Flying Goat Coffee or Costeaux, where menu staples include avocado toast, freshly baked pastries, and quiches. When it comes time for lunch, pop into Journey Man Meat Co. for fresh meats and cheeses; The Parish Cafe for Creole and Cajun specialties like beignets and po’ boys; and Farolito for tacos and margaritas in an upscale ambiance. Enjoy a romantic dinner at Valette (which serves upscale California-inspired cuisine), and Barndiva (modern American fare in a stylish space).