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Healdsburg has always been on trend. In 1871, the first tourists visited by train to shop, drink, eat and enjoy the Spanish-style plaza that serves as the city's centerpiece. Today, Healdsburg is one of the hottest destinations in Wine Country, maintaining its trendsetter role with world-class hotels, restaurants, wine, cider, beer, shopping, art....even a touch of nature. Click through the gallery to discover how to spend a weekend in Healdsburg. (Photo courtesy of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery)
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Friday, 3 pm - Taste Alexander Valley: Healdsburg is nestled on the southwest side of one of the best cabernet sauvignon growing regions in the world, the Alexander Valley. Located about 20 minutes north of the city, Jordan Winery has been at the forefront of Alexander Valley wine since 1972. Producing chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, the appointment-only estate comprises 1,200 acres of rolling hills, sustainably farmed vineyards, olive groves and a French-style chateau. (Courtesy photo).
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The Jordan Winery "Tour & Library" tasting overlooks gardens and vineyards and starts with a taste of chardonnay paired with a seasonal small bite, comprising ingredients grown on site. (Courtesy photo)
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The Jordan Winery tour continues through the historic oak cellar room, which has 12 giant 6,000 gallon oak casks. (Courtesy photo)
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After touring Jordan's cellar room, you'll explore the chateau and enter the library for your second tasting - through a secret door (and no, we won't tell you where it is!). (Courtesy photo)
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The 1.5 hour tour ends with a cabernet sauvignon tasting, including a taste of an older vintage cab. The wine is paired with light foods prepared by Jordan's chef, and includes local cheeses, and estate olive oil. Appointment-only. (Courtesy photo)
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Friday, 5 pm - Beer Time: Award-winning Bear Republic Brewing Co. has been producing beer in Sonoma County since 1995. Their downtown Healdsburg taproom is a popular hangout for locals, who flock to their daily happy hour, where over 20 beers (many that are exclusive to the brewpub) are available on tap for $3.50 a pint. Order a crunchy basket of chicharrones (tossed in chili powder, lemon and cilantro lime juice), head to the patio, and relax with the regulars. (John Burgess)
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Friday 7 pm - Visit the United State of BBQ: Walk across the historic Healdsburg plaza to KINsmoke, where barbecued delights are paired with housemade pickles, collard greens and sweet cornbread. Belly up to the bar, order a local beer, cider or wine, and roll up your sleeves - you're going to get messy. Start with the Spiced Sweet Potato Tater Tots and Drunken Hush Puppies, while deciding on what to order from the pit. Opt for the St. Louis Style Pork Ribs, the KINsmoke Hot Link Sausage, or USDA Prime Brisket and Apple Slaw Sandwich - no matter what you order, you'll wish you wore your comfy pants. (Beth Schlanker)
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Frickles (fried pickles) with buttermilk ranch dipping sauce and a pint of Lagunitas Brewing Company's "A Little Sumpin Sumpin" at Kinsmoke in Healdsburg. (Beth Schlanker)
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St. Louis Style Pork Ribs and Chicken Legs at Kinsmoke in Healdsburg. (Courtesy photo)
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USDA Prime Brisket and Apple Slaw Sandwich at Kinsmoke in Healdsburg. (Courtesy photo)
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Friday, 8 pm - Immerse Yourself in Theater: No matter what weekend you chose to visit Healdsburg, you'll find a full calendar of live performances at the Raven Performing Arts Theater, a local landmark since 1949. Live theater is the star of the show, with classic and original plays and musicals performed by the Raven Players, including classics Shrek, the Musical and Lost in Yonkers. Live music is also showcased, featuring major acts including Kitaro, the English Beat, and Los Lobos.
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Saturday, 9 am - Earn Your Beads Without Going to the Big Easy: The Parish Café has earned cult status in Sonoma County for a decadent breakfast and brunch inspired by the iconic cuisine of New Orleans. It's a cozy restaurant with down home hospitality compliments of New Orleans native and owner, Rob Lippincott. Settle into your seat, inside or on the patio, starting with Café au Lait (coffee & chicory with boiled milk) and an order of beignets. Ask for the specials, and if those don't strike your fancy (they should), go for the Crawfish & Andouille Omelet or Eggs Nouvelle Orleans (poached eggs with lump club crab meat). (Heather Irwin)
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Shrimp and grits at The Parish Cafe in Healdsburg. (Christopher Chung)
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Saturday, 10:30 am - Journey Down the Russian River: "Curing nature deficiency disorder" is the mission of River's Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips and no trip to Healdsburg is complete without a trip down the Russian River, via kayak. Go for the Rio Trip, a 2-3 hour self-guided paddle adventure. It's perfect for beginners and experienced kayakers alike, with plenty of currents to keep you moving in the water and sandbars and swim holes to enjoy. Keep your eyes peeled for various birds and fish along the way, you might even see an eagle or otter. (Beth Schlanker)
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Saturday, 2:30 pm - Get Your Slush On: Located just steps from River's Edge, Amy's Wicked Slush is a great spot to cool off after an afternoon on the river. Serving up authentic Boston slushes (Bite Club's Heather Irwin describes them as an "Icee meets sorbet meets shaved ice.") in almost a dozen flavors. But don't stop at a slush. Order a loaded bagel (cream cheese, lox, red onion, tomato, capers) just like you'd have in Brooklyn, a cup of chowder, or a piled high Italian sub and you'll be recharged for the night to come. (Heather Irwin)
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Saturday, 4 pm - Explore the Plaza: After freshening up at your hotel, explore the historic Healdsburg Plaza, which dates back to the late 19th-century and features plenty of luxury boutiques, art galleries, gift shops and wine tasting rooms. Start at Selby Winery, the oldest tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, where winemaker and owner Susie Selby pours bold wines including sangiovese and zinfandel. Other tasting rooms worth visiting include the bohemian chic Banshee Wines, pinot fanatics C. Donatiello Winery, and Siduri Wines, where you can pair small bites (alligator, anyone?) with wine.
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Banshee Wines in Healdsburg. (Courtesy photo)
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After a taste of wine, wander the plaza popping in and out of boutiques and art galleries. Pet owners will want to check out Fideaux, a stylish cat and dog boutique. After shopping for your pet, outfit yourself with luxury fashions from the modern One-O-One and Susan Graf Ltd. Final stop before dinner: Healdsburg Center for the Arts where local artists showcase their jewelry, ceramics, paintings, photographs and more. Don't miss the gift shop. (Courtesy photo)
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Saturday 7 pm - Trust the Chef: The creation of former Dry Creek Kitchen chef Dustin Valette and his brother, restaurant manager Aaron Garzini, Valette is a true labor of fine dining love in an unpretentious setting. The menu focuses on seasonal cuisine, featuring produce and proteins from local farms and local wines and spirits. Start with a shared plate, or two, such as Roasted Sugar Pie Pumpkin Soup or Hawaiian Ahi Poke. Entree highlights include Cocoa Nib Crusted Liberty Duck Breast and the Charred Wagyu New York Steak. Or better yet: trust the chef. Order the "Trust Me" menu where Valette personalizes a menu based on your tastes. (Chris Hardy)
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Roasted Carrot & Ginger Soup with shrimp, creme fraiche and shrimp cracker by chef Dustin Valette at Valette Healdsburg. (John Burgess)
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Valette in Healdsburg. (Chris Hardy)
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Saturday, 9 pm - Make It a Craft Cocktail: Healdsburg has a happening craft cocktail scene that is being led by the team at Duke's Spirited Cocktails. The lounge, housed in a historic early 20th-century building, serves up libations using house crafted tonics and a spirits selection that tours the world (including spirits crafted down the street). Try an on tap carbonated cocktail like the Bitter Root or a seasonal drink which may include interesting ingredients like carrot and caraway (the gin-based Night Vision) and strawberry-beet shrub (the vodka-based Erotic City, a tribute to Prince). DJs might be spinning, so bring your dancing shoes.
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The bar at Duke's Spirited Cocktails in Healdsburg.
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Paradise Found, featuring Casa Tarasco Spirits Uruapan Charanda (a sugarcane spirit from Mexico), gin, peach, pineapple, lime and lemon verbena, at Duke's Spirited Cocktails in Healdsburg. (Courtesy photo)
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Sunday, 9:30 am - Brunch up, French style: Recover from a night out on the town with brunch at Costeaux French Bakery, which has been serving up French bread, pastries and cakes since 1923. Clear your head with a Bloody Mary, Bloody Beer (PBR and Bloody Mary mix), or a mimosa and fill your belly with a Costeaux Benedict, which features local eggs and their award-winning sourdough or sample their baked goods with their Pain Perdu (French Toast) made with housemade cinnamon walnut bread, topped with seasonal fruit and Vermont maple syrup. Don't forget to grab some ciabatta for the road.
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A selection of breads at Costeaux French Bakery in Healdsburg. (John Burgess)
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Sunday, 11 am - Savor Healdsburg: Top off a weekend in Healdsburg with a final taste: a gourmet food and wine tour by Savor Healdsburg. The 3-hour tour, which generally includes 5-6 stops, features enough food and drinks that you can skip lunch. Stops include Bravas for authentic Spanish tapas and Campo Fina for Italian fare, Portalupi Wine and Gustafson Family Wines, Moustache Baked Goods, The Taste of Tea Japanese-style restaurant and teahouse, and Journeyman Meat Company, featuring homemade salumi, local wines and more.
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Cupcakes at Moustache Baked Goods in Healdsburg. (Christopher Chung)
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Where to stay: The Honor Mansion: Romance rules at this 4-acre resort that is the only AAA four diamond property in Healdsburg. The bed & breakfast has 13 rooms decorated with romantic touches: soaking tubs, gas fireplaces, outdoor jacuzzis, and in-room massage options. The property also has a 40-foot lap pool, bocce & croquet courts, a putting green, tennis & basketball courts, and more. Don't miss breakfast by the mansion's koi pond, paired with mimosas from free squeezed fruit. No children under the age of 16. 707-433-4277, 891 Grove St., Healdsburg, honormansion.com
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The Honor Mansion in Healdsburg.
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The Honor Mansion in Healdsburg.
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Where to stay: Best Western Dry Creek Inn: The Dry Creek Inn offers 163 guest rooms spread across a rustic, Italian themed property. Request a room in the Villa Toscana, where rooms have jetted soaking tubs, fireplaces, and balconies overlooking a charming piazza. The inn hosts wine tastings and yoga classes in the piazza weekly and has two outdoor pools, a hot tub, steam and sauna rooms, and a fitness center. Continental breakfast is served in the morning. Dog friendly. 707-433-0300, 198 Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, drycreekinn.com
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Where to stay: Hotel Healdsburg: The locally owned, boutique Hotel Healdsburg offers modern, sleek accommodations on the plaza. Detailed touches in the rooms, which include spacious suites, include pottery and bed frames made by Bay Area artisans. The property features a pool, a spa, complimentary breakfast, and complimentary bikes to tool around town. You don't have to set foot outside the hotel to dine out, with options like Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen and pizza restaurant Pizzando being located on site. 707-431-2800, 25 Matheson St., Healdsburg, hotelhealdsburg.com.
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Pool area at Hotel Healdsburg. (Courtesy photo)