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First stop on the New York Times itinerary: Lake Sonoma. "Start what will inevitably be a decadent weekend with Sonoma’s purer draws: the spectacular landscape and outdoor activities..." (Photo courtesy of Friends of Lake Sonoma)
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After the lake, hit the Healdsburg shops: "Healdsburg, a well-heeled town anchored by a central square that is surrounded by restaurants, shops, art galleries and, of course, wine stores and tasting bars, is the perfect place to transition into evening," says Amy Thomas of The Times and recommends Lime Stone, a housewares store run by Lisa Palmer, the wife of chef Charlie Palmer.
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The New York Times recommends a pitstop at Healdsburg SHED, "a cavernous culinary market and cafe devoted to local farming culture that features everything from butter churns and herb shears to umami salt and kombucha on tap." (Photo by Kent Porter)
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On Saturday night, have cocktails at Bravas Bar de Tapas, "a lively Spanish restaurant that opened five years ago and remains a local favorite." The Primavera, a gin and tonic made with locally distilled D. George Benham’s gin, fennel fronds, lemon and cucumber bitters, and the Levante, a gin cocktail accented with orange, saffron and cardamom, were their two favorite drinks.
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For Friday night dining in Healdsburg, The Times tried Barndiva "an urbane country-meets-industrial chic interior filled with art and antiques, as well as a picturesque patio beneath arching mulberry trees."
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Saturday in Sonoma County begins with coffee close to the coast: "Wend your way west on Route 116, through light-barring redwoods, past glowing green dairy farms and alongside the placid Russian River. Don’t blink as you near the Pacific or you might miss Duncans Mills (population: 175) and Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery."
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After breakfast in Duncans Mills, head to Goat Rock Beach in Jenner. "Park at the top and hike the narrow path through the grassy bluffs and listen to the ocean roar, or drive down to the expansive sandy stretch of beach that sits at the mouth of the Russian River."
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At 2 p.m. on Saturday, pick up some picnic provisions. "Established in 1881, the Dry Creek General Store is a historic landmark but has all the modern fixings for a picnic lunch."
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After picnic, it is time for the obligatory wine tasting. "Of course you can’t visit Sonoma without sampling some wines. With over 400 wineries across 17 appellations, it’s best to focus on one or two regions and maximize your tasting journey." The Times recommends readers begin at Quivira or Truett Hurst in Dry Creek Valley and then head "just southwest" (we're not sure about the use of "just" here) to Sebastopol and Iron Horse Vineyards.
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For Saturday dinner, Forestville's Farmhouse Inn hits the spot for our friends in the Big Apple. "Despite being one of the most refined dining spots in Sonoma, the Michelin-starred restaurant at Farmhouse Inn in Forestville manages to keep a comfortable, cool vibe."
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The folks at The New York Times seem to like spending a lot of time behind the wheel, driving back and forth between different locations in Sonoma County. On Saturday, the itinerary includes a 90-mile drive to Duncans Mills and the Sonoma Coast, then north to Healdsburg, southwest to Sebastopol and finally to Forestville.
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After all that driving on Saturday, The New York Times lets you relax on Sunday, first in the redwoods. "Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, in the backyard of the thriving foodie scene along Guerneville’s Main Street, is a magical 805-acre oasis of old growth trees."
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Then, after some quiet time among gentle giants, brunch al fresco at Canneti Roadhouse Italiana in Forrestville. "Have another glass of wine — perhaps a crisp pinot gris from the local Moshin Vineyards — with the creamy scrambled eggs with endive, served in a bowl of toasted brioche and saffron hollandaise sauce, or go for the gusto with pennette carbonara."
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After all that eating, drinking and driving, The Times recommend you treat yourself to a detox at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone. "The grounds have been magnificently landscaped to include a Japanese meditation and tea garden, pagodas and hammocks, but the real reason to visit is for the Cedar Enzyme Bath ($109)."
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For local lodging, The New York Times picks Hotel Healdsburg. "Located on the main square in Healdsburg, it’s perfectly situated for eating, drinking and exploring. Rooms in peak season start at $549."
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And, for a more eclectic West County option, Boon Hotel + Spa in Guerneville. "Tucked between Main Street and the redwoods, the 12 rooms and two suites (rates start at $225 on weekdays) are minimally appointed, but cozy, featuring organic linens, platform beds and custom reclaimed redwood furniture."
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