Located at the northern end of the picturesque Alexander Valley and near Lake Sonoma, Cloverdale, Sonoma County’s northernmost town, is a perfect base for exploring wineries and appreciating the region’s stunning natural beauty.
Boasting a compact downtown filled with rambling Victorians, a burgeoning arts community, highly-regarded wineries and eateries, and a family-friendly atmosphere, it’s no wonder Cloverdale was recently named one of “America’s Coolest Small Towns.”
Stroll along Main Street, with its intriguing shops, galleries, restaurants and tasting rooms. Enjoy the outdoors in the town’s parks. Explore the Clover Springs Open Space Trail or the 7.4-acre City Park with its children’s playground; baseball, basketball and volleyball courts; and a horseshoe pit.
Every Friday in summer the cobblestoned town plaza hosts a seasonal street fair as well as Friday Night Live concerts sponsored by the Cloverdale Arts Alliance. Other annual local events include the Cloverdale Citrus Fair and Parade, the Cloverdale Car & Motorcycle Show, the Cloverdale Old Time Fiddle Festival, and, for cycling fans, the Asti Tour de Vine.
Here are five fun things you can do on your visit to Cloverdale:
Travel Back in Time at Gould-Shaw House Museum
There simply couldn’t be a better location for a small town’s history museum than in this authentic 1870s Gothic Revival Cottage, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house has many uncommon elements, including front gables, brick construction, and hand-forged square nails. Inside you’ll find rooms decorated as they would have been at the turn of the 20th century, along with Pomo basketry and artifacts.
The adjacent 2,000-square-foot History Center houses the vast 65,000-artifact collection of the Cloverdale Historical Society and offers exhibits, a gift shop, workshops, and events.
Hit the Sculpture Trail
Cloverdale joined forces with the nearby community of Geyserville to create a trail of high quality outdoor sculpture in both communities, with a few along the highway in-between. New sculptures are installed each May, and stay in place for a year, when the next set of artworks is put in place. A total of 34 sculptures are in place for 2016-17.
It’s possible to walk around each one, studying in from different angles, and in a few cases you can walk on, under, or through the piece. You can also have fun in both towns, shopping in art galleries, relaxing over an excellent lunch, or tasting wine.
Get the Best Seat in the House
The beautiful and state-of-the-art Cloverdale Performing Arts Center has great acoustics. Not only that, but — with only 99 cushy seats and a large stage — it offers the kind of intimate performance that’s rare to find.
Five plays are spread throughout the year; the 2017 season includes Rumors, Agnes of God, The Tempest, The Foreigners, 33 Variations, and The Nutcracker Musical. The center also presents musical performances, readings and interviews with literary figures, improve comedy, and open mic nights. Check the calendar of events to see what will be happening when you visit.
Chill out on the Russian River
The northernmost of all the county’s regional parks, the 72-acre Cloverdale River Park graces the Russian River’s west bank. In warm weather you can launch a kayak or canoe for a paddle adventure; swim and wade in the water; keep an eye out for osprey, ducks or heron; spread a picnic at river-view tables; or fire up a grill for an old-fashioned summer barbecue.
In all seasons you’ll stroll pathways or hop on your bike to cruise around. A 1.1-mile multi-use paved trail that winds through willows, oaks, and cottonwoods is perfect for wheelchair users and baby strollers. And the family pooch is welcome, as long as it’s on a leash no longer than six feet.
Go camping in a tent or RV
Cloverdale is home to three privately-owned campgrounds. In the hills overlooking Alexander Valley, the Cloverdale Wine Country KOA Camping Resort covers 60 acres, offering comfortable cabins from basic to deluxe, as well as tent and RV sites with full hook-ups. All sites have fire pits, barbecue pits, and picnic tables. There are plenty of amenities and fun things to do here.
Dutcher Creek Village RV Park, which provides full hook-up RV and tent campsites, is a pretty and peaceful property surrounded by vineyards and offering great hilltop views. Amenities include a swimming pool, laundry, hot showers, and picnic tables.
Geared to RV camping, the Thousand Trails Russian River RV Campground also offers a few cabins. Amenities include a playground, volleyball, shower, and laundry facilities.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.