How to Have the Best Vacation in Healdsburg, California

Matt Armendariz/Courtesy Jordan Winery

The once scruffy Sonoma town now has serious culinary cred.

Settled on the fertile banks of the Russian River by Native Americans, farmed for riches during the California Gold Rush, and established in 1867, the Sonoma County city of Healdsburg might not have the buzz of grapey nirvanas like its southeastern neighbor Napa—at least not yet. A few spots for world-class meals might change that, though.

Kyle and Katina Connaughton’s Japanese-fusion restaurant SingleThread has been pretty much booked since it opened in 2016, thanks in part to its three Michelin stars. The 11-course tasting menu draws from its gardens and farms to create delicacies like turnip panna cotta with almond pesto and white truffle. Wine director Evan Hufford’s pairings survey the best of local vintners. Indulge in the afterglow in one of the five guest rooms at the inn upstairs (rooms from $1,100).

Just up the block, Dustin Valette’s restaurant Valette is in the same building where his grandfather opened a bakery a century ago. Sit at the bar on one of the nights that Dustin’s at the stove, and you may not leave for hours as plate after plate arrives: day-boat scallops en croûte, roasted strawberries, fennel pollen–dusted swordfish...

Courtesy Harmon Guest House

A trip to the Jordan vineyards for lunch is a fine idea. The new dining room has been designed by Geoffrey De Souza with lichen-inspired embroidery on dining chairs that echoes the nearby woods where chef Todd Knoll forages for mushrooms. Later, there’s a bouquet of options: a boisterous dinner of paella in the charming backyard of Bravas Bar de Tapas, followed by house-made pie and ice cream from Noble Folk on a shaded park bench. Having a drink on the roof of the eco-boutique Harmon Guest House (rooms from $217) is the best way to watch the sun set. Hungry for a midnight snack? Nibble on artisanal salumi from famed winemaker Pete Seghesio’s Journeyman Meat Co.—perhaps paired with fruit that you’ve picked yourself earlier at Noci Sonoma, a ramble of Brutalist sheds and organic gardens just outside town.