As the sun shines and buds break on the vine, there’s no better time to plan a weekend retreat to Healdsburg. And actually, any day will do – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or them all – for as long as you can sneak away.
But venture off the beaten path. For a non-touristy adventure, explore these beloved local treasures:
EAT. Flakey Cream Do-Nuts & Coffee Shop
Enjoy something sweet from this local’s favorite bakery that’s famous for their chocolate “feet” (hey, if we eat bear claws, why not). There’s no denying the old-fashioned appeal of fresh-made devil’s food, frosted, sugared, glazed or spiced wheat donuts, while gooey cinnamon rolls and custard chocolate bars may damage your love handles but bring happiness to your spirit. The ambience is ancient coffee shop (what’s not to adore about that), the prices are rock bottom, and the menu is pure retro, from omelets, to hot cakes, to biscuits and gravy and corned beef hash. Later in the day (donuts served throughout), there are burgers, grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, and a darned good chicken salad.
441 Center Street, Healdsburg, 707-433-3895.
DO. Wine Country Bikes Organic Farm Tour
Burn off the damage to your hips from those chocolate feet with a cardio-rocking 25-mile ride over gentle rolling hills on quiet country roads. Plus, learn about good food along the way. The tour is led by Taylor Lampson of Meadowsong Farm and visits four different organic or biodynamic farms, vineyards and wineries along a scenic route through the Dry Creek Valley. It’s tough to get more insider than this: Taylor actually delivers much of the 20,000 bunches and 2,000 pounds of produce he grows each year by bicycle. And these are the farms that Sonoma chefs love: Middleton, Preston, Love, Dragonfly Floral or Dry Creek Peach & Produce. While you’re collecting the real dirt on real Wine Country food, take a break to enjoy a delicious picnic lunch catered from Oakville Grocery.
DRINK. Preston Vineyards
The wines from this circa-1970 family-owned winery are legendary – Zinfandel, Syrah, Carignane, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and others, many showcasing Rhone-style sensibility. Yet the estate is also a diversified farm, producing a coveted collection of homegrown and hand-made food products. Sip the wines, tour the organic farm, and taste fresh products that are grown and produced in small batches by the Preston family. At the tasting room, you can sample sourdough bread from Papa Preston’s secret starter, estate-grown and pressed olive oil and cured olives, plus browse among seasonal vegetables, fruits and nuts, estate-laid eggs, homemade sauerkraut, salami and a selection of local, artisinal cheeses. It all calls for a picnic, and Preston boasts gorgeous grounds just waiting for the spread of a red-and-white checked blanket.
9282 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-433-3372, prestonvineyards.com.
STAY. The Camellia Inn
Chocolate body frosting. Need we say more? If you can swing a mid-week getaway, there’s no better excuse than to indulge in Chocolate Covered Wednesday at this charming Italianate Victorian Inn right in the heart of central Healdsburg. Cozy up in an authentic 1869 mansion that’s been updated with contemporary amenities and nine private cottage-like suites set with in-room fireplaces. Welcome the sunset with a rich chocolate port, and refresh after the whirlpool with some chocolate soap. Toast your evening with a nightcap and homemade chocolate brownies and then, if you like, the little jar of chocolate body frosting beckons with its little feather-soft paintbrush. The next morning, wake up to fresh brewed coffee and chocolate croissants.
211 North Street, Healdsburg, 707-433-8182, camelliainn.com.
Tip: Make your getaway a true escape and leave the car at home. Pure Luxury Transportation can pick you up at home, or the airport, and ferry you in style.