A wine, foodie, and shopping haven with deep roots in agriculture and a hip small-town vibe, Healdsburg (pop. 11,254) sits at the juncture of three of northern Sonoma County’s prime winegrowing regions — the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley.
Many visitors get around Healdsburg by driving their own vehicle or renting a car. Healdsburg lies mostly to the east of the four-lane US Highway 101, Sonoma County’s main north-south corridor (with four Healdsburg exits).
While the lazy Russian River meanders its way along Healdsburg’s southeastern corner, the heart of this town is its historic central plaza, slightly east of Highway 101. Several blocks of boutiques, art galleries, antique collectives, and restaurants surround this charming town square. The Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce provides a map of downtown Healdsburg.
Navigating Healdsburg’s wide and welcoming streets is fairly straightforward. Running north-south and somewhat parallel to the freeway, Healdsburg Avenue forms one side of the central downtown plaza. It’s also a conduit to the beautiful scenery and multitude of wineries on Dry Creek Road and Alexander Valley Road/Highway 128 to the north, and the lush Russian River Valley via Westside Road and Old Redwood Highway/Eastside Road to the southwest.
Tours and Private Transport
Sometimes you just want to leave the driving and the details to others. For short trips, you can use ride sharing services or taxis (and many taxi companies also offer longer rides and local tours).
A wide variety of Sonoma County tour companies are available to help you go wine tasting, stroll through a redwood grove, explore charming small towns, or savor the incredible coastal views. Tour transportation can include a van, bus, luxury car, or stretch limo, but you can also see Sonoma County from a motorized trolley, an open air Jeep, and other unique vehicles. Plus, there are designated driver services that will take you on customized tours in your own car or your rental vehicle.
Buses and Trains
Explore central Sonoma County by train. Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) runs sleek, energy-efficient, clean diesel trains on 43 miles of track starting near the Charles M Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in northern Santa Rosa, and heading south to Marin County. For a roundup of attractions, hotels, and restaurants near each of the six SMART train stations in Sonoma County, read our Guide to Exploring Sonoma County by SMART Train.
Sonoma County Transit (SCT) offers three bus routes in Healdsburg — a local route around town; an intercity route to Cloverdale in the north and Santa Rosa in the south; and a north county route that connects to SMART’s airport train station. In downtown Santa Rosa, you can transfer to other SCT bus routes or Golden Gate Transit buses to San Francisco.
NOTE: One of the best ways to pay your fare on Sonoma County Transit, SMART, or Golden Gate Transit is to use a Clipper Card, which is accepted by more than 20 transit agencies in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Francisco ferries. You load money on your card, and then just swipe it to pay your fare. You can buy a Clipper card online or at participating local retailers.
Airports near Healdsburg
Three major carriers offer daily flights from Santa Rosa’s Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS). The airport offers a choice of rental car services, ride sharing, taxis, and other ground transportation options, and is located slightly more than a mile west of the SMART train station. Transportation options between the airport and train station include Sonoma County Transit buses, taxis, or ride sharing services.
The Sonoma County Airport Express runs buses between STS and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK), with stops in Sonoma County, including the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Rohnert Park, and the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma.
Healdsburg’s compact downtown, wide streets, and flat layout make getting around on two wheels a good transportation option. Find bike lanes, bike trails, and a downtown route on the Healdsburg Bike Map (and also check the Bike Detour Map).
And just a few miles from the center of town you’ll find a wide variety of routes, include flat river valleys, rolling hills, and steep mountain climbs. A slide show captures the beauty of bicycling through the Dry Creek Valley, which provides scenic routes for cyclists of all skill levels.
Bike rentals and guided tours are available in Healdsburg through Spoke Folk Cyclery and Wine Country Bikes (which posts instructions and maps for popular local rides). For something a bit different, take a tour of downtown on a group party bike (it looks a bit like a small bus or trolley, and is powered by the pedaling of 10 people) with Bike Healdsburg.
Combine cycling with public transportation by taking your bicycle with you on Sonoma County Transit buses and SMART trains. Each county bus includes a rack that can fit two or three bikes, and each two-car SMART train has spaces for up to 24 bikes.
For more ideas about how to explore Sonoma County on two wheels, check our Guide to Cycling in Sonoma County and Popular Bike Itineraries: Cycling through Wine Country.
Walking and Hiking Trails
Healdsburg’s compact downtown makes getting around on two feet fairly easy. The Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce provides a map of downtown Healdsburg.
Three companies offer guided walking tours of the downtown area that include local history and culture, as well as behind-the-scenes glimpses. Let’s Go Wine Walk offers a three-hour wine tasting adventure; Savor Healdsburg Food Tours leads a three-hour progressive dining experience; and Wine Country Walking Tours combines both interests with unique wine-and-food pairings, with a choice of a four-hour day tour or a 2.5-hour evening tour.
The 1.25-mile Foss Creek Pathway follows the old railroad tracks through the downtown area, offering a short, pleasant, and lighted route through town lined with public art and landscaping.
North of downtown, the 155-acre Healdsburg Ridge Open Preserve offers both paved and dirt trails, in an area that includes wetlands and oak woodlands, rocky serpentine chaparral, and open grasslands, with diverse wildlife.