A focal point of the downtown area, the Healdsburg Plaza features turf, trees, benches and a gazebo, Sonoma County
Healdsburg Plaza

5 Fun Things to Do in Healdsburg

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Beautiful, historic, and surrounded by rising hills and vineyards, Healdsburg is a picture-perfect wine country town. With its hip boutique hotels and gracious B&Bs, it's a convenient take-off point for wine-tasting and cycling in the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, and just a short hop from the Russian River Valley. However, don't be surprised if Healdsburg's seductive charm causes you to slow down and enjoy the town.

Explore Healdsburg's Historic Plaza

Storefronts along Center Street in downtown Healdsburg, Sonoma County
Center Street in downtown Healdsburg

One of the best, easiest, and most fun ways to get familiar with Healdsburg—one of  the nation's six "Most Romantic Small Towns," according to CNN Travel — is to take a leisurely stroll in and around its 19th-century plaza.

Sample wine in tasting rooms, browse in a bookstore, shop boutiques and art galleries, relax in a coffee shop.  If you feel like it, walk beyond the plaza to delight in beautiful 18th- and turn-of-the-century homes. As you meander, study menus posted in the windows of heralded restaurants (you'll quickly find that deciding where to eat is just about impossible).

Play Bocce Ball

Guests enjoy the bocce court at Dry Creek Vineyard, Healdsburg
Dry Creek Vineyard

Derived over centuries from an ancient game of the Roman Empire, bocce involves rolling metal or plastic balls on long smooth courts. Thanks to the many Italian immigrants who settled in Sonoma County in the 19th century, this fun, social game has long been popular 'round these parts.

Why not try your hand at this sport while in Healdsburg, where several wineries and an Italian restaurant make courts available? It's fun to join in a game or just kick back with a glass of wine and watch a competition. Here's where you can play in Healdsburg:

  • Armida Winery, housed in a geodesic dome, has killer views, three beautiful picnic areas and a full size bocce ball court.

  • Campo Fina is a fine Italian restaurant where you can sit inside and concentrate primarily on dining, or sit outside in the courtyard, dining or sipping a glass of wine while watching bocce games in progress (or joining in).

  • Davis Family Vineyards, steps from the Russian River, invites you to stroll through its organic garden and join in on the bocce court. 

  • De La Montanya Winery offers a picnic area and bocce ball court shaded by a lovely apple grove (both are reserved on weekends for wine club members).

  • Dry Creek Vineyard added a bocce ball court in fall 2014, next to one of its famed vineyards.

  • Seghesio Family Vineyards, one of the county's pioneer wineries, offers a beautiful picnic grove where you can play bocce in the shade of oak trees.

  • Thomas George Estates lets you reserve the bocce court on its beautiful estate for four hours for groups of four to 12 players.  

Meander through an Extraordinary Garden

The gardens in bloom at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, Healdsburg
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery

With five acres of dazzling gardenscapes, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery on Dry Creek Road is a study in color nearly year-round. Gardens here are Italian/French in style with classic, geometric shapes forming an architectural backbone.

The color scheme and plantings change constantly throughout the year, but always begin with a vibrant display of more than 10,000 tulips and daffodils each spring. On a self-guided tour you'll explore at your own pace, meandering along pretty paths, passing waterfalls, and crossing foot bridges arching over gentle streams. More than 2,000 species of trees and shrubs sport identification tags, so you'll learn while you wander.

To ascertain when tulips will bloom in spring, phone the Gardens' Tulip Hotline at 707-433-5349, beginning in late winter. 

Enjoy a "Sip &  Cycle" Adventure

A woman cycles past rows of green vineyards
Highway 128, Alexander Valley

Where else but in wine country can you get a good workout in-between sampling top-tier wines? Here you'll find one of the world's best wine-cycling routes, a 30-mile mile loop that starts and ends in Healdsburg and takes you through Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys in the process. Whenever you feel like it, pull off to a winery to relax over a glass of wine, and then continue on.

Another great but shorter route: Alexander Valley's Red Winery Road, between Healdsburg and Geyserville. It's flat, quiet and peaceful, running through beautiful oak-covered hills and miles of vineyards. For directions for either route, read "Popular Bike Itineraries: Cycling Through Wine Country."

Explore the Healdsburg Museum

Housed in a one-time Carnegie Library, the Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society, built in 1910-1911, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum's focus—the history of Healdsburg and environs—may seem geared to locals, but the creative exhibits invariably address universal issues. Permanent exhibits look at local Pomo and Wappo Indian tribes, Healdsburg's early architecture, and much more. 

Find more info about Things to Do in Sonoma County, Sonoma County Restaurants, and Sonoma County Hotels & Lodging.

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodgriguez.