The picturesque town of Healdsburg is located in the heart of Sonoma County’s wine country, 70 miles north of San Francisco. It is a small but vital community with a diverse economy based on agriculture, tourism, lumber, and retail businesses. The town’s center is a charming Spanish-style plaza surrounded by a variety of shops.
Healdsburg’s neighbor to the south, Windsor, is one of the fastest-growing regions of Sonoma County. Intersected by Highway 101, the east side of town is primarily residential and new retail businesses, while the west side is more rural, although it also includes recreational facilities such as the Windsor Water Works.
Healdsburg, CA Travel Guide
Healdsburg has more than 60 wineries within a 30-minute drive from town. The wineries and the area’s natural beauty attract more than one million visitors annually.
Healdsburg is named after Harmon Heald, an Ohio native who traveled to California in search of gold. Failing health forced him to give up that search, but he came to Sonoma County and built the first home and store in what is now Healdsburg. The town was incorporated in 1867.
Healdsburg, situated along the Russian River, is a perfect spot for canoeing and swimming during the hot summer months. Bicycling is also popular in the area and northwest of town is Lake Sonoma where visitors can enjoy watersports and fishing.
A perfect town to explore by foot, Healdsburg has dozens of well-preserved Victorian commercial buildings and homes. In addition to attractive homes, Healdsburg has many excellent shops, restaurants, hotels, and bed and breakfast inns to accommodate any traveler. The wares of several wineries can be enjoyed within a few blocks of the plaza. Windsor Vineyards, Trentadue and Belvedere, all have tasting rooms on Center Street. Right on the plaza on Healdsburg Avenue is the Kendall-Jackson Country Store.
Healdsburg could be considered the perfect wine country town – not too big, not too small – and situated right where the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys, all prime wine regions, come together.
The town is built around an attractive Spanish-style plaza planted with palm trees, redwoods and shade trees and is the focal point for several local events and celebrations, including summer concerts.
Shoppers will be delighted with a stroll around the plaza because it has something for everyone. There are clothing stores, art galleries, restaurants, a bed and breakfast inn, winery tasting rooms and an excellent bakery and creamery. It’s also fun to explore Healdsburg’s neighborhoods to view well-preserved and renovated historic homes.
In the summertime, strollers can cool off by heading for Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach at the south end of town for a dip in the refreshing Russian River. Canoes can be rented at the beach for those who want to float farther downstream and the canoe company will come and pick you up.
Visitors to Healdsburg will find every type of accommodation available, from camping at Lake Sonoma to cozy bed and breakfast inns to palatial resorts.
Windsor, CA Travel Guide
Each year Windsor hosts the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic which draws hundreds of balloonists and spectators from California and beyond for the event. The Balloon Classic is held in mid-summer.
Windsor was allegedly named by an early settler who thought the area was reminiscent of the countryside near Windsor Castle in England. Windsor township was established in August 1855.
Because Windsor has developable land and less opposition to growth than more established Sonoma County towns, it will probably continue to be one of the county’s fastest-growing areas. Planners say the city could reach a population of 24,000 in 10 to 15 years.
Healdsburg & Windsor Highlights
- Healdsburg Museum – antique firearms, 19th-century clothing, Pomo baskets and more in a historical building, 221 Matheson St. Call (707) 431-3325 for information.
- Lake Sonoma – northwest of Healdsburg on Skaggs Spring Road, fishing, boating, swimming, and camping, (707) 433-2200.
- Russian River – canoeing, swimming, fishing access at the south end of town.
- Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic – annual gathering of dozens of hot air balloons in Windsor, held in mid-summer each year, (707) 836-0777.
- Healdsburg Area Chamber of Commerce – 217 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433-6935
- Windsor Chamber of Commerce – 8499 Old Redwood Hwy., Suite 202, Windsor, CA 95492, (707) 838-7285