Most famous for its authentic small-town charm, Healdsburg is a requisite stop as you wind your way through Sonoma wine country.
“I grew up near here and I’ve watched Healdsburg go from just a tiny town to a top destination spot in Sonoma. It’s not as well-known as Napa, but that only makes it more special to me,” says Lila Brown, a concierge travel expert based in Healdsburg.
Lila, a sommelier, returned to Healdsburg after stints in Italy, Greece, and Spain. We asked Lila if she could put together a casual Healdsburg day plan, and she graciously obliged us with an eight-step plan to a perfect day in (and not far from) Healdsburg.
Eight Steps to a Perfect Day in Healdsburg
- The Shed. Start off with breakfast or brunch at the morning hot spot in Healdsburg, The Shed. It’s as much a meeting place as it is a restaurant, and it offers a gourmet market inside too. This is where the beautiful people come to prop open laptops in the sun while sipping a cappuccino or a fresh green juice.
- Unti Vineyards. After breakfast, drive north-west into the Dry Creek Valley, known as one of the oldest growing areas for Zinfandels in California. First stop, Unti Vineyards, famous for their Italian and Rhone varietals, especially for Rosè.
- Dry Creek General Store. Continue on to the Dry Creek General Store to stock up for a picnic lunch.
- Lambert Bridge Winery. Head west onto Lambert Bridge Road over the single lane bridge to Lambert Bridge Winery. The picnic grounds include wood-fired ovens making pizzas on the weekends. Lambert Bridge is famous for their Bordeaux varietals, especially Merlot and Zinfandel. Here we meet Jennifer Higgins, one of the few female winemakers in California. Her wines tend to be more delicate instead of the bold zinfandels for which Dry Creek is known. These are food friendly wines, old world style. After a tasting, sit outside with a bottle of their Burgundian-style Chardonnay and enjoy your picnic.
- Arista Winery. After a relaxing lunch, head south onto West Side Road in the Russian River AVA for world-class Pinot Noir at Arista Winery. After a tasting, enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir as you wander through Arista’s peaceful Japanese inspired gardens and take in the majestic view of Mount St. Helena.
- Barn Diva. Loop back to Healdsburg to the Barn Diva gallery for a classic cocktail at one of the coolest places in town.
- Bravas. Housed in an old craftsman house, Bravas has a magical patio with twinkle lights, a tapas menu, an entire menu of flavored Gin and Tonics (Lila recommends the one with saffron and cardamom).
- Additional Options. If you want to spend more than one day in the area, Lila has several options for Day Two and/or Three. One option is a walking tour of Healdsburg itself including food and wine tastings around the square. Or, if you want to enjoy the local nature, kayak down the Russian River, hike above the Pacific Coastline, or bike through the vineyards on the Sonoma Wine Road.