Healdsburg, a city in Sonoma County, is known for its wine country, with many vineyards and wineries located in and around the city. But it’s not only about wine in this quaint Northern California town. This area makes an amazing weekend getaway because there are so many fun things to do in Healdsburg and all over Sonoma County, California.
Your biggest problem will be knowing where to start. The coastline villages of Bodega Bay and Jenner offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and plenty of active pursuits. The Russian River is a great place to spend a day wine tasting or enjoying the river. Sebastopol’s art galleries showcase its creative spirit while Healdsburg is home to some of the best wine and food.
Let’s get started with the best things to do in Healdsburg and move on to the rest of Sonoma County from there.
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Best Time of Year to Visit Healdsburg and Sonoma
Sonoma County is a beautiful place to visit year-round, but there are certain times that are more ideal than others. The springtime months of April and May offer the best weather, with mild temperatures and plenty of wildflowers in bloom.
June through October offers great weather as well, although it can get a bit hotter later in the summer. Summer is a great time for summer activities on the Russian River and to visit the Sonoma coast.
The fall harvest season is possibly the most popular time to visit. It’s an exciting time of year as the grapes are picked and delicious local produce is available in abundance.
And finally, winter is a great time to visit for the best deals on lodging and less crowds. You can also do some great holiday shopping in Healdsburg Plaza. Of course, Sonoma county is lovely all year round, so don’t let these recommendations stop you from visiting at any other time!
15 Fun Things to do in Healdsburg and Sonoma County
Healdsburg is the perfect place to start if you are looking for the best things to do in Sonoma County. There is a little taste of everything you’ll find on a trip from wine tasting to incredible food to hiking and the Russian River. One thing is for sure, you’ll definitely fall in love with this part of California.
1. Wine Tasting is One of the Best Things to do in Healdsburg
Sonoma County is home to three different wine regions. The Russian River Valley is home to 15,000 acres of vineyards, many of which grow world class Pinot Noir grapes. The Alexander Valley specializes in delectable Cabernet Sauvignons, while Dry Creek Valley is best known for its Zinfandels.
Healdsburg lies smack dab in the middle of these regions making it the perfect place to enjoy all types of wine. With over 80 vineyards in the area, there are a plethora of tasting rooms for you to enjoy. It’s very hard to choose the best wineries to visit but here are a few recommendations with great wine and lovely properties for a perfect Sonoma County wine country visit.
- Robert Young Estate Winery offers multiple tasting experiences of their estate wines on their lovely patio with stunning views overlooking the Alexander Valley. You can also book a vineyard experience with lunch.
- A. Rafanelli Winery has spent four generations perfecting their Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot in the Dry Creek Valley. This smaller winery is all heart with great wine and vineyard filled views.
- Flowers Winery as the name implies has a beautiful property filled with flowers, vegetables and herbs. The offer private tasting pavilions with comfortable seating where you can relax and enjoy the day. It’s best to reserve ahead but some walk in appointments are available.
- Dry Creek Road Wine Trail – if you aren’t looking to visit wineries but still want to enjoy a beautiful drive, Dry Creek Road will take you past incredible vineyards and let you enjoy the fact that you’re in the heart of California wine country.
2. Do a Healdsburg Wine Country Bike Tour or Rent a Bike and Go on Your Own
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, rent a bike from Spoke Folk Cyclery and explore Healdsburg with a little wind in your hair. There are multiple companies that offer organized wine country bike tours on regular and E-bikes.
Location: 201 Center St, Healdsburg, CA 95448 • Hours: M-F 10-6pm, Weekends 10-5pm
3. Book a Spa Day Among the Vines at the Montage Healdsburg
The Montage Healdsburg is an incredible resort set amongst the vineyards and the ideal place to stay for your Sonoma wine country visit. Whether or not you choose this as your home away from home for the weekend, a visit to their spa will be a highlight of your trip
Spa Montage is a wellness retreat that offers everything from a fitness studio to classes in their vineyard yoga garden to couples massages and the latest anti-aging beauty treatments. Decompress and let the wine country serenity infuse your body with renewed energy and overall sense of well being.
Location: 100 Montage Way, Healdsburg, CA 95448 • Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs and cats under 45 lbs, $125 fee
4. Dine, Shop & Relax in Healdsburg Plaza
For a charming place to spend an afternoon in Healdsburg, look no further than Healdsburg Plaza. This leafy public square is home to a variety of restaurants and boutiques, as well as several beautiful fountains and monuments.
It’s the perfect place to people watch, have a family picnic and enjoy a sunny afternoon. So take a break from your wine tasting and explore all that the plaza has to offer!
An open-air farmer’s market is held here Tuesdays and Saturdays from mid-April to mid-December. Vendors showcase their locally grown produce, flowers, breads and meats. There are also delicious dishes or you can head into Costeaux French Bakery and infamous Dry Creek Kitchen.
5. Go Hiking, Boating or Camping at Lake Sonoma Recreation Area
Lake Sonoma is a man-made lake, that you’ll find nestled in the hills past the Healdsburg wineries on Dry Creek Road. It’s a beautiful, uncrowded spot that was the result of building the Warm Springs Dam. The reservoir covers 2,700 acres and has 50 miles of shoreline. Many activities are available including boating, fishing and hiking.
Most visitors love hiking here or enjoying a picnic. I mean look at those views! You can also rent a boat at the marina or take advantage of one of the many campsites for an overnight.
6. Glamping in Wine Country in Healdsburg or the Russian River Valley
There are two great places in Sonoma Wine Country for glamping. The first is Wildhaven Sonoma in Healdsburg with safari tents and shared bathrooms. The tents come in one and two bed options that are really comfortable.
You’ll have nightstands with lamps, and space heaters. Make s’mores by the fire, lounge on the covered patio and get a full camping experience without roughing it. It’s one of the cutest places for Glamping in California.
Location: 2411 Alexander Valley Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448 • Pet Friendly: Yes, $25 per pet per night, maximum 2 dogs, 70 lbs
For the more upscale version in Guerneville, try AutoCamp Russian River. Choose the classic Airstream experience, which includes a queen bedroom, luxury linens and towels, television with cable, a kitchenette with fridge and microwave, pull out sofa for the kids, a private bathroom with rain shower and air conditioning and heat. You’ll also have your own fire pit, patio and outdoor dining area.
Other accommodations include Safari Tents, cute little Happy Campers or Accessible Suites. On weekends take a yoga class, guided meditation or one of the many excursions available.
Location: 14120 Old Cazadero Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446 • Dog Friendly: Yes, $75 fee, 2 dog maximum up to 80 lbs each
7. A Day on the Russian River is one of the Best Things to do in Sonoma County
Johnson’s Beach is a great place to set up for the day where you can rent inner tubes, kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, umbrellas and beach chairs. You need to make a reservation for the beach. There are also rustic cabins and camping spots available for longer stays.
If you are not planning to glamp or camp, Guerneville is also a great place to rent an Airbnb right on the river. Many of the homes include kayaks or other equipment to get out and enjoy some river fun.
Location: 16215 First St, Guerneville, CA 95446 • Cost: $7 parking, boat rentals and overnight accommodations available • Dog Friendly: No • Restrictions: Reservations required
8. Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve is a Sonoma County Hidden Gem
This is one of the best places to see redwoods near the Russian River. It’s a smaller grove than the state parks further north but Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve is still a strong contender with old growth redwoods on an 800 acre parcel and a lot less people. The Colonel Armstrong Tree is the oldest tree, a mind-blowing 1,400 years old.
You can wander around and just commune with nature. The 1.3 mile Colonel Armstrong Loop is The Discovery Trail is beautiful, ADA accessible and perfect for all ages.
Location: 17000 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville, CA 95446 • Hours: 8AM to one hour after sunset. • Cost: $10 parking • Dog Friendly: Yes on leash • Restrictions: No drones
9. Take a Scenic Drive on the Bohemian Highway
The first thing you’ll notice on the 10 mile beautiful stretch of road called the Bohemian Highway is the stunning scenery. The road winds through rolling hills and past vineyards, cypress trees, and oak forests. We went in fall and were treated to some Northern California fall foliage.
Make sure to visit some of the small town of Occidental along the way for a short walk to peruse the cute two block downtown area. For some thrills, stop by Sonoma Canopy Tours for a zipline tree top tour through the forest.
The Bohemian Highway is also a great place to go hiking and biking. There are plenty of trails to choose from, and you can even find a few wineries along the way to stop at.
10. See the Junk Art in Sebastapol
If you like places that are quirky and cool, you will love this little town. One of the best things that happened on our latest Sonoma trip was taking a drive down Florence Avenue to see the junk art. We met the family that creates all the fun sculptures on the street and all around town. Check out our Sonoma Video on YouTube to see a fun interview.
Location: Florence Avenue, Sebastopol • Restrictions: Be respectful of residents, this is their home.
11. Shopping, Eating and Visiting a Brewery at The Barlow in Sebastopol
There are also quite a few breweries in Sonoma County and if you are a beer lover, then this is definitely something you will want to check out. Some of the better known ones include Bear Republic Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Russian River Brewing Company and more.
We recommend Crooked Goat Brewing located The Barlow, a converted 12 acre warehouse district filled with restaurants, breweries, wine bars, cute shops and more. We went early before noon, which was nice because there weren’t a lot of people but not great because things weren’t open yet. I recommend visiting Sebastapol in the later part of the day.
Best Things to do in Sonoma County Coastal Villages
One of the things that makes Sonoma County so beautiful is its coastline. The villages here are charming and have a lot of character. You can visit spots like Bodega Bay, Jenner, Guerneville and more.
12. Have Breakfast or Lunch on the Russian River at Cafe Aquatica
If it’s a nice sunny day, there’s nothing better sitting on Adirondack chairs overlooking the Russian River while you enjoy a good cup of Joe and eat a delicious meal. Cafe Aquatica in Jenner should be a must visit spot on your way to the Sonoma Coast. You’ll definitely feel like you’re getting good food from good people and taking in the relaxed happy, neighborhood vibe.
On weekends, the have live music and pop up markets. You can also rent kayaks right next door.
Location: 10439 CA-1, Jenner • Hours: Open daily for breakfast and lunch • Dog Friendly: Yes on the patio
13. Go Kayaking in Jenner at the End of the Russian River
This is one of the prettiest places to leisurely explore by kayak. The mouth of the Russian River has an estuary that is home to plenty of wildlife from harbor seals to otters and migrating birds.
You can bring your own inflatable kayak or rent one from WaterTreks Eco Tours. They also offer guided tours, both by kayak and hiking. You can spend hours just taking in the sea air and beauty of this area at the mouth of the Russian River.
14. Spend the Day at Goat Rock Beach and Hike in Sonoma Coast State Park
Goat Rock Beach is part of Sonoma Coast State Park. It’s a beautiful spot on the Sonoma Coast where you can enjoy views of rugged sea stacks, a wide expanse of beach, have a picnic, watch the sunset, or check out the colony of harbor seals.
Be careful at Goat Rock beach. Even though it doesn’t look like it, the shoreline drops off very quickly, which sometimes causes big, unexpected waves.
One of the prettiest hikes from Goat Beach to Wright’s Beach is the The Kortum Trail. It’s 4 miles round trip with coastal views and lots of fresh ocean air.
Location: Highway 1 and Goat Rock Road, Jenner CA, 95450 • Hours: 8AM to one hour after sunset. • Cost: $10 parking • Dog Friendly: No • Restrictions: No drones
15. A Sunset Dinner in Bodega Bay
There are amazing sunsets along the Sonoma Coast. One of the best spots to take it all in and have a delicious meal at the same time is Lucas Wharf Restaurant in Bodega Bay. They have excellent seafood, especially the clam chowder. It can get pretty crowded, so another great option is the Boat House nearby.
Location: 595 Highway 1, Bodega Bay • Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner, breakfast on weekends • Dog Friendly: Yes on the patio
Where to Stay in Sonoma County
Where to Stay in Healdsburg
- Hotel Healdsburg (9.1) Best to stay in Healdsburg Plaza
- Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza (9.0) Best for Bed and Breakfast lovers
- Montage Healdsburg (10) – Best for Resort Lovers. Set amongst the vineyards with a spa and wellness center.
Where to Stay in the Russian River Valley
Glamping in Sonoma County
How to Get to Healdsburg and Sonoma CA
The closest airport is Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County, which has non-stop flights to many cities in the western United States like Seattle, Phoenix, Portland, and San Diego. The drive from Santa Rosa Airport to Healdsburg is less than 10 mile.
You can also fly in to one of the bigger airports like San Francisco, Oakland or Sacramento. From there, you’ll need to plan on a 1.5 to 2.5 hour drive. It works out well, however, if you can make this part of a Northern California road trip.
If you’re looking for a wine country escape that will tantalize all of your senses, look no further than Healdsburg and Sonoma County. With world-class wineries, restaurants, and coastal villages, you can fill up your days (and nights) with plenty of activities to keep you entertained. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!