San Francisco

10 Reasons to Drive to Healdsburg, California

This picturesque town in Sonoma County is the perfect home base for wine country adventures, world-class dining, and luxury resorts.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Francis Ford Coppola Winery

    Situated just 70 miles from San Francisco in the northern part of Sonoma County, Healdsburg serves as the meeting point of three famous valleys and their celebrated wines: Alexander Valley (cabernet sauvignon), Russian River Valley (pinot noir and chardonnay), and Dry Creek Valley (zinfandel and sauvignon blanc). The tasting opportunities alone would be enough to win our attention, but the town boasts more-world-class dining, four-star hotels, and vibrant culture-not to mention a location that overflows with day trip options.

    From live music to mushroom foraging, here are 10 things to do in Healdsburg and its surrounding areas on your next weekend road trip:

    Cesar Rubio
    Cesar Rubio
    Cesar Rubio

    Dine around the plaza

    Healdsburg is home to a wealth of dining options, and several of them are situated on or right around the town’s main plaza. Take, for example, The Matheson, a 15,000-square-foot, tri-level venue where chef Dustin Valette spins out elevated Californian cuisine in the dining room, and wood-fired small plates at Roof 106.¬†Internationally acclaimed interior designer Cass Calder Smith helmed the venue’s look and feel, and we’re thankful-a large, open kitchen and chef’s counter serve as a focal point for the space, with raw materials like white oak, stone, and leather offering a warm California welcome.

    There’s also his eponymous Valette, which the chef opened alongside his brother, and has risen to become one of the town’s favorite intimate restaurants, with friendly service, locally sourced plates, and a boutique list of small-production wines. Keep those fine dining vibes going with a splurge at SingleThread, a three Michelin-starred venue featuring multi-course menus from chef Kyle Connaughton. The team’s local farm informs much of the evening-situated in Dry Creek Valley, it boasts 24 acres and hundreds of different crops, ensuring ample inspiration from amuse bouche to mignardises.

    Christian Horan
    Christian Horan
    Christian Horan

    Check into a luxe new hotel

    The Montage Healdsburg recently opened its doors, bringing with it 130 Bungalow-style guestrooms featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, marble bathrooms, and walk-in showers. The on-site restaurant Hazel Hill is destination-worthy-chef Jason Pringle excels in delivering Northern Californian cuisine with French influences, and honors the changing seasons in the process. Case in point with dishes like Chilled Pea Soup with morels and quinoa, Wild King Salmon with pumpernickel and sorrel, or Chou Farci with wild rice and cabbage. Don’t miss dessert-with coffee gelee and cookies, the Hazelnut Semifreddo serves up a tour of textures.

    Slightly closer to town guests will find The Madrona, a new boutique hotel spanning eight acres that was originally built as a private residence in 1881 during the Aesthetic Movement. Venerated interior designer Jay Jeffers handled the property’s aesthetic, curating more than 200 antiques and relics from around the world while preserving original elements throughout the spaces (24 guest rooms in total). Come dinnertime, visit the restaurant, where Michelin-starred chef Jesse Mallgren serves seasonally inspired menus with global twists, featuring plates like Medjool Dates with togarashi and olive oil, Shishito Peppers with ginger and sesame, and oysters on the half shell with orange leaf mignonette. The drinks list is just as enticing, thanks to the Paxton Menu, a selection of rare and vintage spirits named after the property’s original owners. Enjoy a round on the front porch or al-fresco patio, with views of the storybook gardens.

    Jordan Vineyard & Winery
    Jordan Vineyard & Winery
    Jordan Vineyard & Winery

    Visit a world-class winery

    Healdsburg is home to several prominent wineries, most of which are available for tours, tastings, or both-and Jordan Vineyard & Winery¬†would be an excellent place to start. Established‚ÄĮin 1972, the vineyard and winery was inspired by France’s great estates and their high-caliber service. Experience some of that hospitality here with a tasting of the team’s chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, all alongside hilltop views and pairings from the on-site garden. For the full experience, book the three-hour tour, which explores the entire estate and concludes with a thorough tasting of wines and the winery’s home-grown olive oil.

    Just a 10-minute drive away you’ll find the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, an expansive, sleek hangout complete with a pool, bocce court, and movie relics galore. Order some plates to pair with a few of their offerings (they produce more than 40 wines here), then carry on to Reeve Wines, a majestic tasting room and patio surrounded by towering oaks and manzanitas. It’s an equally solid souvenir stop-the team’s small-batch and responsible farming approach is one you’ll want to remember.

    Gretchen Gause
    Gretchen Gause
    Gretchen Gause

    Or check out an in-town tasting room

    While a visit to the vineyards is certainly in order around here, tasting rooms on the plaza offer an experience just as memorable. Check out Marine Layer, the manifestation of Baron Ziegler’s longtime dream to create wines honoring the area’s coastal influences (specifically, the Pacific’s thick blanket of fog that rolls in on the regular). Settle into a gorgeous space replete with warm, earthy tones, and sample through the team’s handiwork-mineral-driven, small-batch wines (with some bottles produced in quantities as small as 50 cases). Pair them up with a mezze plate, featuring rotating seasonal ingredients from local newcomer Little Saint. From there, meander just footsteps away to LIOCO, where husband-and-wife duo Matt and Sara Licklider share offerings produced from their winemaking cooperative in Santa Rosa. Expect a spotlight on chardonnay, pinot noir, and carignan-all of which are sourced from lots featuring older vines and heritage clones.

    Sally Seymour
    Sally Seymour
    Sally Seymour

    Support an animal sanctuary

    Hang with some animals during your travels, all in the name of a good cause (and real good company). Take a day trip to Sunrise Horse Rescue, a nonprofit formed in 2007 to care for abused, neglected, and abandoned horses as a result of the economic crisis. Today, the team rescues and provides sanctuary for horses throughout the region, while educating the public about animal welfare and the benefits of equine-assisted learning and therapy. Book a tour to meet the herd, while also learning how you can become a “Hero for a Horse in Need” through donations and sponsorships. And if you’re jonesing for more animal hang time, swing by Sindisa Sanctuary on your way back to town, where a team helps to provide forever homes for horses, mules, pigs, alpacas, cows, and donkeys.

    Dine well while supporting diversity

    If you have plans to head to the region real soon, be sure to check out J Vineyards & Winery for their “Shifting the Lens” dinner series, events aimed to spark conversation around equitable representation in the world of dining by spotlighting various culinary techniques and philosophies. NYC-based chef Shenarri “Greens” Freeman leads the dinners on the weekends of September 29-October 2 and October 6-9, bringing her plant-based, holistic approach to the table.

    Forage for mushrooms-then dig in

    The ‚Äėshroom-curious will do well to book a stay at Hotel Healdsburg, where the team heads up a two-hour foraging quest at Notre Vue Estate & Winery. In the process, discover what kinds of trees and terrain to seek out, how to vet your mushrooms, and tips to ensure success in your hunt. It all serves as helpful intel once back on property, where Dry Creek Kitchen will help to prepare a three-course meal featuring your foraged finds.

    Emma K. Morris
    Emma K. Morris
    Emma K. Morris

    Catch a show at Little Saint

    This restaurant-meets-performance venue opened on Earth Day-a fitting debut, as the team prioritizes plant-based offerings, based on their farms’ ever-evolving inventory. Chefs Kyle and Katina Connaughton (of three Michelin-starred SingleThread) are behind the venue’s food and drink programs, meaning that regardless of your order, you’re in for something excellent (think Farro Verde with grilled corn or Red Lentil Hummus with harissa). The team works alongside Jenny Hess on the site’s programming, a robust lineup which ranges to include wine tastings, book signings, and live music every Thursday night. Keep an eye on the calendar for upcoming shows, and whatever you end up catching, feel good about your purchase-proceeds benefit Saint Joseph’s Arts Foundation, a non-profit supporting local creatives and arts communities.

    Kenwood Inn & Spa (10400 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA)
    Kenwood Inn & Spa (10400 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA)
    Kenwood Inn & Spa (10400 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA)

    Spend some time in Glen Ellen

    Good food, wine, and history can all be found a short distance away from Healdsburg in Glen Ellen, once home to Jack London (author of Call of the Wild and White Fang). He made such a mark on the area, in fact, that visitors today can now explore the Jack London State Historic Park, the author’s former ranch that lays claim to 1,400 acres and more than 26 miles of trails. After those kinds of aerobic efforts, kick back with a massage at Kenwood Inn & Spa, where several treatment rooms, two spacious spa cabanas, and private tubs (complete with vineyard views) await. Opt for the Valley of the Moon massage, a 50-minute service blending several techniques (e.g. Swedish, deep tissue, and lomi lomi), or the Ultimate Bliss massage, a customizable, 110-minute restorative treatment incorporating soothing aromatherapy oils. Linger onsite a while longer to enjoy the property’s lush courtyards, fire pits, and fountains before making your way to dinner at the Fig Caf√©, where chef Sondra Bernstein (of Sonoma’s Girl and the Fig) puts forth seasonally driven French plates like Duck Confit with delicata squash or Beef Bourguignon with baby carrots.

    Peruse the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market

    Founded in 1978, this market is a treasure trove for those seeking the bounty of the region, thanks to a medley of fruits and vegetables, cheeses, honey, olive oil, bread, fish, and eggs (and a strong selection of cooked and packaged foods). But the draw here goes above and beyond shopping-the team makes a point of organizing events like cooking demos, live music, and produce-themed fun (think “Zucchini Races” and pumpkin carving contests).Sign up here for our daily San Francisco email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun SF has to offer.

    Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor to Thrillist.

    San Francisco

    How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

    Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

    Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
    Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
    Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

    Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

    If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

    Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

    February (and throughout the year)
    Library branches and online
    SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
    Cost: Free

    Museum of African Diaspora
    Museum of African Diaspora
    Museum of African Diaspora

    See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

    February (and throughout the year)
    SoMa
    Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
    Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

    Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

    February (and throughout the year)
    Berkeley
    There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
    Cost: Varies

    Old Skool Cafe
    Old Skool Cafe
    Old Skool Cafe

    Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

    February (and throughout the year)
    Bayview
    For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

    Yerba Buena Gardens
    Yerba Buena Gardens
    Yerba Buena Gardens

    Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

    February (and ongoing)
    Yerba Buena Gardens
    Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
    Cost: Free

    Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

    Thursday, February 9
    Embarcadero
    On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
    Cost: Free

    Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
    Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
    Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

    Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

    Friday, February 10
    Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
    Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
    Cost: Free

    Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

    Friday, February 10
    SoMa
    “Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
    Cost: $15 to $60

    Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

    Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
    341 13th Street, Oakland
    Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
    Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

    See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

    Saturday, February 11
    Unity Palo Alto
    See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
    Cost: Free

    Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
    Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
    Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

    Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

    Saturday, February 11
    Mission
    Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
    Cost: $40

    Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

    Saturday, February 18
    West Oakland
    Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
    Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

    See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

    Sunday, February 19
    Great Star Theater, Chinatown
    The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
    Cost: $15

    Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

    Thursday, February 23
    Dogpatch
    STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
    Cost: Free

    Bayview Opera House
    Bayview Opera House
    Bayview Opera House

    Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

    Saturday, February 25
    Bayview Opera House
    Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
    Cost: $100

    Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

    Saturday, February 25
    Angel Island
    There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
    Cost: $10 to $21

    Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
    Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
    Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

    Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

    Sunday, February 26
    Downtown Oakland
    This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
    Cost: Free

    Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

    Monday, February 27
    Nob Hill
    Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
    Cost: $25 to $75

    See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

    Tuesday, February 28
    Civic Center
    Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
    Cost: $36

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    Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

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