Guide to Northern Sonoma County
For your exploring pleasure, here's a focus on Sonoma County's northern reaches, home to rolling hills and small fertile valleys, premium wineries, and the towns of Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, and Geyserville.
The official Wine Road unites much of Northern Sonoma County, as it has for more than 40 years, guiding visitors through the many winery jewels throughout Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys. The association's online maps are valuable for creating self-planned tours of the more than 100 wineries, including old-school classics such as Joseph Swan Vineyards, and newer treasures like J Vineyards & Winery, which showcases both sparkling and still wines.
Town Centers in Northern Sonoma County
The heart of Healdsburg is its historic Healdsburg Plaza, sprawling across an acre of lawn, shade trees, benches for relaxing (plus certainly a picnic paired with wine), and a tiered pagoda gazebo with a stage for live music. Locals and visitors flock to this oasis at Matheson Street and Healdsburg Avenue, as well as the winery tasting rooms, fine boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants that line its leafy perimeter—all of which make it easy to spend an entire day here.
Each Thursday in the summer, the Windsor community gravitates to its Town Green for the "Summer Nights on the Green" free concert series, enjoying food and wine from vendors in collaboration with the Windsor Farmers Market.
The Town Green anchors the Old Downtown, along Market Street and McClelland Drive on the west side of Redwood Highway. Dining is a favorite pastime at surrounding restaurants, in a delicious variety of American, French, Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Himalayan and pub cuisines. You can satisfy your sweet tooth at the Cravin's Candy Emporium, too, and buy fresh flowers, books, jewelry, crafts, antiques, and much more at the many shops around the park.
Cloverdale is located in the picturesque Alexander Valley wine region, just off California Highway 101. Small town charm abounds — indeed, the city proper covers just 2.7 square miles with a population of about 11,032 people. It’s a beautiful area, framed by oak-studded rolling hills, wineries, vineyards, and small farms.
At the center of downtown, you’ll find annual events like the Farmers Market Friday Night Live free summer concert series in the main plaza. Produced by the Cloverdale Arts Alliance, family-friendly activities include music by bands from across the country, dining from mobile food vendors and nearby restaurants, premium Sonoma County wines and craft beers purchased by the glass, hand-crafted art for sale, and kids’ fun. The site, at Cloverdale Boulevard between First and Second streets, also hosts year-round community festivals.
Geyserville The center of town here is actually the entire town, as Geyserville covers an area of just 4.6 square miles, and is only home to roughly 860 souls.
Located on California State Route 128 (just off US Route 101), rustic Main Street charms with saloon-style storefronts and wooden boardwalks, leading to acclaimed boutique destinations like Mercury Geyserville wines, Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, and Catelli’s Italian cucina and bar. Independent shops offer art, antiques, collectibles, crafts, gifts, and of course, farming equipment.
Parks and Outdoor Recreation
Del Rio Woods, Healdsburg
Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach, Healdsburg
As the most visible swimming beach on the Russian River, this spot is generally busy. Picnic areas, restrooms, and lifeguards (on-site daily from July through Labor Day) are nice amenities, while a par course jogging trail encourages extra exercise. 13839 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg
Riverfront Regional Park, Healdsburg
Two gorgeous lakes here invite you to go fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddling. Trail options—for biking, birding, horseback riding, and hiking—include a two-mile trail looping around the larger Lake Benoist, including a side path to a small beach on the Russian River; or stroll a half-mile trail that meanders through coast redwoods and lands at a large picnic area outfitted with barbecues, volleyball fields, and a horseshoe pit. 7821 Eastside Road, Healdsburg
Foothill Regional Park, Windsor
In the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, this former ranch embraces 211 acres laced with nearly seven miles of trails. The terrain is stunning, crossing oak woodlands, wildflower meadows, rolling hillsides leading to expansive overlooks, and three bass and bluegill fishing ponds. Equestrians and cyclists enjoy private trails, while visitors in wheelchairs can navigate their own gravel trail. Full picnic facilities are perfect for relaxation. 1351 Arata Lane, Windsor
Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, Windsor
A rugged oasis in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, Shiloh encompasses 850-acres, including nearly eight miles of hiking, bicycle, and horseback riding trails. The diverse landscape spans oak groves, mixed evergreen forests, canyons, gentle hills, a shady creek, a pond, and a ridge cap with sweeping views of the Santa Rosa Plain.
Equestrians especially appreciate the old ranch roads for comfortable pleasure riding, plus the convenience of a gravel parking lot for horse trailers, a flush restroom and a drinking fountain. Picnicking is another highlight, in an area set with barbecues, a gazebo, a lawn, and a small grove of oaks. 5750 Faught Road, Windsor
Cloverdale River Park, Cloverdale
The Russian River is the star here, accessed via a paved launch point for kayaks, canoes and drift boats. Seasonal fishing and picnicking are draws, as is wildlife and riparian habitat viewing. 31820 McCray Road, Cloverdale
Northern Sonoma County tempts with dozens of restaurants, offering a global array of cuisines. Uniting them all are premium Sonoma County ingredients, drawn fresh from area farms, ranches, dairies, creameries and grain sheds.
The edible wealth has not gone unnoticed by the Michelin Guide, which has awarded three of their highly coveted Star ratings to SingleThread in Healdsburg, and a single star to the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville.
To learn more, check out:
Hotels and Lodging
Whether you’re desiring a quaint bed and breakfast, a posh resort, a relaxed hotel, a charming inn, or a rustic lodge, Northern Sonoma County is rich with options.
Check out our listings of:
- Healdsburg Hotels & Lodging
- Cloverdale Hotels & Lodging
- Geyserville Hotels & Lodging
- Windsor Hotels & Lodging
- Sonoma County Hotels & Lodging