Located just a short drive north of San Francisco and at the heart of three of Sonoma’s most acclaimed viticulture regions (Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys), Healdsburg is a gorgeous Northern California wine country town which offers the unique combination of accessible small town living and community, natural beauty and cultured sophistication. What was originally a North Bay agriculture hub for fruit, nuts and ultimately grapes has become today one of the most sought-after and livable small towns and tourist destinations in the U.S., as recently proclaimed by National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian Magazine and Travel + Leisure.
On the surface, Healdsburg seems like an all-American town – and it is. Contained within just 5 square miles, you’ll find families riding bikes around the town, a dog bowl outside nearly every shop and two locally-owned book stores nestled among the boutiques, cafes and hotels on the leafy town square. It’s also become a destination for rising star chefs, artisans and winemakers, who raise their families here while perfecting their art.
Healdsburg is a foodie’s dream – offering an unparalleled range of dining within a small radius – from Michelin-starred establishments (Madrona Manor and Valette Restaurant) and James Beard Award winners (Single Thread and SHED) to causal, family-friendly options. Enjoy tapas and a beautiful Spanish-forward wine selection at Bar Bravas; experience a slice of the Big Easy at The Parish Café or authentic southern BBQ at Kinsmoke. Relax and unwind with imported Japanese teas and authentic ramen at The Taste of Tea. Breakfasts in Healdsburg are a staple and there are a number of family-owned favorites where locals and tourists gather - including Downtown Bakery & Creamery – a beloved destination for baked goods and savory breakfast dishes since 1987 when it was opened by a former Chez Panisse pastry chef; SingleTree Restaurant, home to a $4.95 breakfast special of eggs, potatoes, and toast, and its lunch menu featuring a burger proclaimed by Chef Charlie Palmer as the best anywhere; and Costeaux Bakery, a full service bakery renowned for its world-class artisan and sourdough breads, cakes and desserts with a bakery café in downtown serving made-to-order bistro cuisine for breakfast and lunch.
While Healdsburg is situated minutes from the regions top wineries, the streets around the Healdsburg Plaza are lined with dozens of tasting rooms, each with their own style. The chic Cartograph tasting room offers wines on tap and gorgeous rotating art on the walls, while stylish yet funky Banshee Wines across the street features a long communal table and cozy chairs and couches in a casual, loungy feel with its record player spinning vinyl. Idlewild’s 4thgeneration Sonoma winemaker, Sam Bilbro, showcases his beautiful Italian varietals alongside a menu of locally-made artisan charcuterie and cheeses or handcrafted dumplings made onsite during a Friday night pop-up. Just down the road, Seghesio Winery offers visitors a beautiful, spacious outdoor setting to picnic, savor the wines and play bocce. For those looking for other beverage options in town, Healdsburg is home to Bear Republic Brewing Co, Sonoma County’s acclaimed craft brewery with a brewpub along the Plaza. Healdsburg has also kept pace with the craft distilling trend, currently home to two craft distilleries – Alley 6 and Young & Yonder, featuring handcrafted vodka, gin and whiskies.
ENTERTAINMENT & AFTER HOURS
Although Healdsburg isn’t known for late night traffic, there is a small, well-curated culture of live music and theater performances from small venues, including the Raven Performing Arts Theater, which hosts jazz, rock and Broadway musicals. To support the after-dinner, post-event and performance crowds, there are a few select after-hours wine bars and craft cocktail establishments to patron, including Duke’s Common and Spirited Cocktails. Healdsburg is also known for its myriad of popular seasonal festivals, from walk-around food and wine-focused events, to those supporting the arts, music and the outdoors.
It is not just the dining, shopping and events that make Healdsburg such a jewel. The picture-perfect countryside features lush valleys and pristine vineyards, redwood forests and the Russian River (flowing directly through town). Nearby Lake Sonoma offers ample opportunity for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, boating, picnicking, cycling and hiking.
COMMUNITY: EDUCATION & FAMILY LIFE
For a small town, there are a number of top-tier schools, both public and private – including an innovative Charter School Program, a well-attended K-8 Catholic School and International Baccalaureate program. In addition to a well-performing public high school in the heart of town, there are private options within miles of the town. For families, there are a number of wonderful parks, playgrounds and public spaces ideal for family gatherings and play – including public pools, recreation programs and community centers. There are also a number of health clubs, fitness centers and programs to support active, balanced healthy lifestyles.
LOCATION: GETTING TO HEALDBSURG
Although Healdsburg may feel like a world away – in the best possible way – it’s incredibly accessible with Sonoma County’s Charles M. Schulz Airport just ten minutes from the town in Northern Santa Rosa with direct flights to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas. As well, Healdsburg is located directly north from San Francisco (and San Francisco International Airport) on Highway 101, roughly an hour and a half to two hours, traffic depending. There are easy shuttle options available to and from hotels in town and both airports. There are also two private charter airports in the vicinity, one in Healdsburg and the other next to the Sonoma County Airport.
Healdsburg truly offers something for everyone!
DRY CREEK VALLEY
Minutes from the town of Healdsburg, 70 miles north of San Francisco and 20 miles east of the Pacific. Dry Creek Valley is one of the most important wine regions in Sonoma County and the sate of California. In comparison to larger regions like Napa, it feels quite intimate with only 70 wineries, most of which are family-farmed and produced by artisan winemakers.
Zinfandel is the dominant grape grown in the region, with growers farming nearly 2,400 acres of the varietal, making it the most widely planted grape in the area. However, with a climate quite similar to Bordeaux, the terroir and temperature make Dry Creek Valley ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. The area is part of Sonoma County’s initiative to become a 100% sustainable wine region by 2019. Sustainability is defined by the triple bottom line: a comprehensive set of practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically viable.