Healdsburg, a quaint and idyllic village among vineyards, lies about an hour north of both Napa and Sonoma. Dubbed one of the Nation’s Most Romantic Small Towns by CNNTravel, it is one of California wine country’s best hidden gems. And here are 5 things you must do in Healdsburg, California!
1. GO WINE TASTING!
Healdsburg is placed perfectly at the meeting point of viticulture-famed Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, and just down the road from the Russian River Valley. In other words: It’s wine country paradise.
Tucked into the hills of Alexander Valley, you’ll find the beautiful French-countryside-inspired Jordan chateau. The gorgeous estate overlooks 1200 acres of rolling hills and vineyards and is home to the Jordan family. Jordan welcomes guests by appointment for their 90 minute estate tour and tasting of gourmet food and wine pairings in their stunning cellar room. They only make three wines here, an esteemed cabernet, chardonnay, and a new sparkling wine.
For those who truly appreciate good wine, Verite is a must-stop on your trip to Healdsburg. Famed wine critic Robert Parker, Jr., of The Wine Advocate recently announced twelve 100-point scores for Vérité’s three blends, Le Désir, La Joie and La Muse (the first time a Sonoma County winery has received this many perfect scores!) And they are just as incredible as you can possibly imagine. The beautiful Verite estate hosts tastings by appointment only.
Lancaster Winery is set in Alexander Valley and their private tasting is hosted in their stunning 9000 square foot caves, accessible through a Game-of-Thrones-esque door. The beautiful estate is located at the southernmost tip of Alexander Valley and includes 53 hillside acres of 24 vineyard blocks. The vineyard is dedicated exclusively to the classic Bordeaux varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Tastings are $25 per person.
Lambert Bridge Winery
Lambert Bridge, located in the Alexander Valley, is famous for their excellent Cabernet, Cab Franc and Merlot, among other varietals. Their tasting room is their barn-like barrel room which is just beautiful. Lambert Bridge describes their wine style as offering European elegance and refinement, coupled with the intense flavor and bright aromatics that are found only in Sonoma County fruit.
2. RELAX IN LUXURY AT HOTEL LES MARS
Fresh out of the French countryside, this luxurious 16-room boutique hotel is located in the heart of the Healdsburg Square. The rooms at Hotel Les Mars feature baroque canopied four-poster beds with fresh Italian linens and the most comfortable mattress and pillows imaginable, as well as a spacious marble bathroom and unbelievably-soft robes. Each morning breakfast is served in your room on silver platters, with french-pressed coffee and fresh croissants.
3. EAT AT BARNDIVA
Barndiva, with its beautiful patio and all-sustainable restaurant, takes haute farm-to-table cuisine to a whole new level. It’s casual yet hip, and its inventive modern-American menu is everything you want and need after a long day wine tasting.
What to order: The crispy pork belly and the kale caesar with a poached fresh farm egg. And definitely explore their cocktail list for awesomely creative cocktails that are the perfect answer when all the wine starts to taste the same!
4. GO ON SAFARI… IN CALIFORNIA
Built in 1993 by animal care experts and conservationists Peter and Nancy Lang, Safari West, a 400-acre African game animal preserve offers one of the best venues on the planet for getting up close and personal with some animals from all over Africa, from rhinos to giraffes to zebras, monkeys, cheetahs, antelopes and wildebeests.
Safari West has over 900 animals (around 100 different species), and offers once-in-a-lifetime overnight lodging, customized guided tours, and amazing animal experiences. Even if you don’t stay over night, the daytime experience of a jeep safari (or a winos and rhinos safari, if you want to keep your wine tasting buzz going) is an incredible experience. In addition, the impeccably trained staff offer private and intimate behind-the-scenes tours of animal enclosures and holding areas (yes, you can feed the giraffes).
5. FLOAT DOWN THE RUSSIAN RIVER
A popular day trip for San Francisco locals, floating down the Russian River has become one of the most sought-after summertime Healdsburg activities. The lazy current and summer sunshine is perfect for floating with friends and a cooler full of beers.
There are no fees, no lines, and no guides necessary, you just show up with a raft or inner tube (which you can get on amazon for around $20) at Steelhead Beach, and plan to disembark at Sunset Beach, which will take a group about 4 hours.
Have you been to Healdsburg? Please share your own tips with our readers in the comments below. Read Next > Death Valley California: A Photographers Paradise