So excited to be writing up a Healdsburg travel guide today and covering all the best things to do in Healdsburg! And by best things to do in Healdsburg, I mean where to eat and drink. Healdsburg has an incredible food scene, and its climate is, of course, great for growing wine—particularly cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but you’ll also find some amazing old vine Zinfandel and world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, which are more my cup of tea—err, glass of wine.
If you’re not from California, you may not have heard of Healdsburg before—whenever I visit I get a lot of DMs asking about where it is and why I love it so much. Healdsburg is part of Sonoma County and it’s located 1.5 hours north of San Francisco, making it one of my absolute favorite weekend getaway spots. If you’re visiting San Francisco and want to tack on a trip to wine country, you should absolutely consider Healdsburg. While Napa may be calling your name because that’s what you’ve heard of and are familiar with (and it does have its beauty and charm—we love Napa too!), Healdsburg, in my opinion, offers several pros over Napa:
- More laid back and friendly
- You can find much more reasonable prices for tastings, restaurants, and hotels
- It’s much easier to get appointments for wine tasting and many places welcome walk-ins (versus Napa can be booked out for 2 – 4 weeks)
- The downtown Healdsburg plaza is so cute and walkable so you can just hop around to the different tasting rooms without having to worry about driving
Have I sold you on Healdsburg yet? 😉 If you haven’t been, you absolutely must plan a trip! And this Healdsburg guide is going to help you out.
I’ve put together this three-day itinerary for you that covers all the things to do in Healdsburg—which like I said, is basically a guide of where to eat and drink. In this itinerary, I try to give you a mix of some of the tasting rooms in the cute downtown area, as well as the Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley AVAs. Three wineries is about all I personally can fit into one day of wine tasting while still feeling good about myself, but if you’re able to go a little harder than me in the wine tasting department (many people are—I’m a lightweight), then feel free to pile it on.
If you’re looking for even more Healdsburg winery and restaurant recs, be sure to check out these two posts:
Where to stay in Healdsburg: Wondering where to stay? If you’re looking to splurge for a fancy weekend, Hotel Les Mars is an absolute favorite of mine. It’s gorgeous and fancy, the rooms are beautiful and have a fireplace in them, the bathroom features a huge jet jacuzzi, and they include a beautiful little French breakfast in the mornings as well as happy hour with wine and cheese in the evenings. What’s not to love?? I’ll be writing up a full post about Hotel Les Mars soon too!
And as always with my travel guides, I’m including a link to my custom Google Maps for Healdsburg, which has wineries, restaurants, and hotels starred on the map so you can easily get a lay of the land.
Ok, let’s get into this post, all about the best things to do in Healdsburg during a three-day itinerary!
Things to do in Healdsburg
Things to Do in Healdsburg: Day 1
Breakfast at Costeaux French Bakery: First things first, grab some coffee and delicious pastries at the cutest bakery—Costeaux. If you’re looking for something heartier than their (delicious) croissants, I love their quiche.
Wine Tasting at Hartford Family Wines: Day one is going to be all about tasting rooms around Healdsburg’s plaza, starting with Hartford Family Wines. I love big reds so I was excited to see they had some old vine zin on the tasting menu, and it was pretty awesome. We def bought a bottle to bring home with us!
Lunch at Barndiva: Head to one of my favorite Healdsburg restaurants for lunch—Barndiva! If it’s nice out, sit outside in their lovely back patio. Afterward, head next door to the art gallery and wine bar and take a stroll through.
Shopping Around Downtown: There are tons of cute little shops to pop into around the plaza. When I was there a couple of months ago, my friend Amy introduced me to Susan’s Basement, which is a luxury consignment store selling pieces from last season at discounted prices.
Wine Tasting at Cartograph: Into Pinot Noir? You’ll love Cartograph. Alan and Serena are the sweetest husband and wife team running the show here, and making elegant Pinot from Russian River Valley.
Wine Tasting at Williamson: I love this tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. The people are friendly, the wine is great, and they do a small bites + wine tasting pairing for free. Yep, free. They make really delicious condiments like beet mustard and truffle salt, which we pretty much always end up buying to take home with us, along with a bottle of wine.
Dinner at Valette: Valette is a Healdsburg restaurant favorite. Brothers Dustin Valette and Aaron Garzini opened this spot a few years ago, featuring a chic space with exposed concrete and of course, awesome food. I’m a big fan of their five-course tasting menu, which I highly recommend! It’s $75 per person (with an option $50 wine pairing), and you’ll be treated to seasonal dishes with ingredients that are fresh and sourced locally. Usually their famous scallop puff pastry dish is part of the tasting menu, which is to die for.
Things to Do in Healdsburg: Day 2
Wine Tasting at Coursey Graves: On to day two! Start off with a tasting in downtown Healdsburg, and then we’ll start to explore some wineries outside of the downtown area. Coursey Graves has a beautiful new tasting room that’s absolutely worth a visit. I love that their reds feature Cabs, Syrah, and a couple of blends, and they also offer a wine + chocolate pairing.
Lunch at Mateo’s: Loooove Mateo’s! This is not your average Mexican restaurant. Chef Mateo Granados (formerly a chef at Dry Creek Kitchen) launched his own restaurant featuring Latin fusion back in 2011, and it is killer. The flavor combinations are delightfully bold and unexpected, with just the right amount of kick. I recommend asking your server for some recommendations and getting outside of ordering what’s familiar to you here—if we had only ordered what we knew, we would have missed out on some of our favorite dishes! Chef Mateo shared some truly mouth-watering dishes with us and we loved every single one of them. If the Sikil P’ak is on the menu when you go, definitely order that as an appetizer—it’s a pumpkin seed dip with grilled housemade tostadas and I legit could have just eaten a whole bowl of it by myself with a spoon.
Wine Tasting in North Healdsburg: Time for some choose your own adventure wine tastings. There are SO many great wineries in Healdsburg, so I’m going to recommend a handful for the rest of your afternoon and you can pick and choose which ones sound up your alley! About a 20-minute drive north of downtown Healdsburg, you’ll find Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves and Ferrari-Carano Vineyards. Both are beautiful spots to spend an afternoon. I love Bella Vineyards’ setting and drinking wine in a wine cave is always fun. And Ferrari-Carano has an incredible estate, with award-winning gardens that you can stroll through while sipping your wine. Francis Ford Coppola Winery is also a really fun option—especially during the summer as they have a pool and it’s hard to imagine anything more fun than sitting in a cabana poolside Rosé.
Wine Tasting at Ridge Vineyards or Robert Young Estate: Heading back towards downtown, you’ve got a bunch of great options on your way. I’d recommend Ridge Vineyards at Lytton Springs or Robert Young Estate. Ridge is surrounded by their beautiful 115-year old vines. I like that the produce many different varietals (sometimes a girl needs a break from Pinot, ya know?), and we had a really lovely wine + charcuterie pairing and tasting here. Plus their barrel room is super cool to check out! They have a couple of different locations and the one at Lytton Springs is they Dry Creek vineyard. Robert Young Estate is a lovely spot to spend an afternoon. Their views are stunning, with ample outdoor seating on the patio overlooking the vineyards. They have several different tasting options, and we enjoyed their Scion Experience, which includes a flight of single-block reserve wines, paired with light bites.
Dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen: Enjoy dinner and a fancy night out at another Healdsburg fan favorite, Dry Creek Kitchen. Chef Charlie Palmer opened up this restaurant back in 2001, serving refined California fare. The restaurant is elegant and beautiful, and sitting outside on a nice evening is just so enjoyable. Their menu changes seasonally, but you can expect delicious and a really fabulous wine list featuring Sonoma County wines, as well as fantastic service.
Things to Do in Healdsburg: Day 3
Hike at Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve: By this point in the trip, you might be looking for some outdoor activities to help break up some of the wine tasting (or work off some of the wine tastings). Healdsburg’s Open Space Preserve is the perfect place to do just that, and enjoy some time in nature along with beautiful views.
Amy’s Wicked Slush: For a little late afternoon sweet treat, head to Amy’s Wicked Slush. It’s basically soft serve with Italian ice on top, covered in one of their many syrup flavor combos. A local fan favorite, you can expect there to be a line here. Then after you’ve had this deliciousness, I recommend grabbing something to-go from Journeyman so you can have it for lunch later in between wine tastings.
Wine Tasting at Jordan or Chalk Hill: We went north of downtown Healdsburg for Day 2, so let’s head south today. You’ve got many beautiful options in this area, including Jordan Vineyards and Chalk Hill Estates. Both feature sprawling acres, stunning views, amazing service, and fantastic wines, so you really can’t go wrong. Be sure to make reservations in advance here as both places are by appointment only and can book out weeks in advance.
Journeyman: Aren’t you glad you stopped by Journeyman on your way out of town for wine tasting? This upscale salumeria and meat shop makes some awesome pizzas and sandwiches, perfect to enjoy during a day of wine tasting. Just be sure to check if the winery you’re going to allows you to bring food for a picnic, as some do not. We’ve also just pulled over on beautiful Dry Creek Road and sat on our car’s hood enjoying the beautiful scenery while munching on our sandwiches. Sometimes we’ll also grab something to eat on the way home on our way out of town.
Wine Tasting at MacRostie: You guys, MacRostie is gorgeous and you need to go. Stunning views abound, and we just had such a wonderful afternoon here soaking up the scenery and their bright and balanced wines. We ended up bringing a bottle of their Rosé home with us because it was just fab.
One More Wine Tasting: Ok, ready for one last wine tasting to round out your Healdsburg trip? Of course, you are! I’ve got a few more recs for you to choose from: Gary Farrell, J Vineyards, and DaVero Vineyards. Gary Farrell is an OG winemaker in Healdsburg wine country, and their tasting room is another spectacular one, with awesome views of Russian River Valley (as you can see in the photo) and a large outdoor patio. J Vineyards offers a number of different tastings, including their sparkling varietals, which is always fun to mix in. And DaVero Vineyards features a very organic and old-world approach to winemaking and farming, which you’ll be able to hear all about if you book a tour with them.
Alley 6 Distillery: We’ve clearly covered a lot of wineries, but if you’re craving some spirits, be sure to check out Alley 6 Distillery! Stop by their tasting room to sample their handcrafted Rye Whiskey and Harvest Gin. You can also request a tour of the distillery!
Dinner at Chalkboard: Chalkboard is another favorite restaurant of mine in Healdsburg! They serve a lot of delicious small plates that are meant to be shared, and their homemade pasta is so just freaking good. Definitely get at least one or two of their pastas, including the cocoa trifoglio with duck confit.
That’s it for my Healdsburg wine country guide! Looking to book some tours so you don’t have to drive? Check out these ones on TripAdvisor!
There are so many other fantastic wineries that I didn’t fit into this three-day guide (Dry Creek Vineyard, Lambert Bridge Winery, Copain, Silver Oak—just to name a few!). If you’re looking for even more winery and restaurant recommendations for Healdsburg, be sure to check out my Hburg posts:
Best Wineries in Healdsburg
Best Restaurants in Healdsburg
Healdsburg, CA is in Sonoma County.
If you’re coming from the Bay Area, a weekend in Healdsburg is lovely, but you could absolutely spend three to four days there for a trip.
Healdsburg is a 1.5 hour drive from San Francisco.