North of Santa Rosa, and serving as the gate to a part of Wine Country with a wholly different charm, lies Healdsburg. Thirty years ago, this small town was Santa Rosa’s country cousin, but in that time it’s grown into the region’s poshest spot. Michelin-rated restaurants, tony boutiques, and one of Sonoma County’s best local breweries ring the town square—a family-friendly green space, a city block in size, which hosts festivals and concerts in summer.
It’s no secret that some of the county’s most innovative restaurateurs hang their signs in Healdsburg. Chef Charlie Palmer’s annual Pork & Pinot pairing at the Hotel Healdsburg has been going nine years strong. Barndiva, Ravenous, and the Charcuterie are all centrally located and continually receive stellar reviews.
Adjacent to the south end of city runs the Russian River, which transforms into a playground come summer. Veterans Memorial Beach, off Old Redwood Highway, is the most popular spot. Quieter enjoyment can be found upriver, and several canoe rental shops can set you up for a day of leisurely traversing the water.
The most renowned sport in the Healdsburg area, of course, is winetasting. The Sonoma County Wine Country region that stretches north and west of Healdsburg proper, along Dry Creek Road and into Alexander Valley, is, as locals proudly know, the antidote to Napa Valley’s commercial bustle. Here you can find small, family-run wineries, some producing only a few hundred cases per year, nestled side-by-side among ranches and homes in the hillsides. Winetasting aside, the route through the valley is breathtaking, by car or on bicycle, and is one of the natural areas most treasured by county residents.
Like a number of Sonoma County towns, Healdsburg has its own thriving and well-loved community theater, the Raven Players. Committed to their community, the Players each seasons produce at least one original work among a lineup of classic dramas, comedies, and musicals. The space also hosts rock and jazz shows, and is home to Healdsburg’s local orchestra, Philharmonia Healdsburg. And just around the corner is the Raven Film Center, an independent theater showing everything from blockbusters to art films.
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