Napa, Sonoma Recommendations Needed

Old Oct 29th, 2020, 03:44 AM
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Napa, Sonoma Recommendations Needed

So first off, we planned this trip before the fires! We have 3 nights after spending Thanksgiving with family in Yosemite before we fly back east. (Didn't want to fly on Thanksgiving weekend.) Only other time in this area was a Backroads bike trip in 2008 and we've longed to return. Looking for a small inn as a central base from which to explore wineries, hiking, a ride out to the coast, redwoods, etc. We're pretty careful about COVID, so will likely only do outdoor dining. On the bike trip we loved Healdsburg and Calistoga, but wonder if these aren't central enough. I've searched Airbnb but very little is offered, as well as some of the hotel sites. Looking for something more interesting than the chains in the larger towns like Napa.

I know this is late planning but we were waiting to see the fire status before we made reservations. Looking for all kinds of recommendations - lodging, dining, and things to do! Thank you in advance.
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Old Oct 29th, 2020, 01:31 PM
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We have stayed at the Best Western in downtown Sonoma. A few blocks from the square. They may require a 2 or 3 night minimum because of the holiday. I haven’t dined in Sonoma in years , so can’t give great advice. Just outside of Napa, I like Bistro Don Giovanni. In Rutherford, Rutherford Grill. Both of these are very good, but not fancy or run by famous or celebrity chefs.
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Old Oct 29th, 2020, 01:33 PM
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I am not sure how restaurants are going to address outdoor dining this winter. It gets pretty cold and winter is our rainy season.
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Old Oct 29th, 2020, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by MichelleY View Post
I am not sure how restaurants are going to address outdoor dining this winter. It gets pretty cold and winter is our rainy season.
Well, we're from Maine so even Northern CA will be warmer!
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Old Oct 29th, 2020, 04:35 PM
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If you are from Maine - I would skip the coast if you have only 3 days available, including the day to get from Yosemite.

We have very close friends in both Healdsburg & Calistoga, and Airbnb type rentals are illegal in both cities.

The Calistoga area got hit harder by the recent fires than Healdsburg did. Our friends in Calistoga who live in the vineyard area adjacent to Sterling Vineyards had to evacuate for many days. There is a group of about 5 houses that are near them (but 100s of yards from them) and only 2 houses did not burn down - they were one of the 2. Their vineyards did not burn, but the many olive trees & cypresses on their property did. Our Healdsburg friends live on West Dry Creek Road next to Madrona Manor (where I would recommend staying https://www.madronamanor.com/ ) did not have any damage and when we were up there 2 weeks ago we didn't see any fire scars in the area. But there was plenty of smoke blowing over from Napa.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 30th, 2020, 06:37 AM
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My heart pours out to the people of California this year. Our son lives in LA and we love the state. Honestly I know its not the best time to visit there, but we have time before our flight and don't want to spend it in the city because of COVID. The coast in that area is very different from Maine and we love it so may make time. Other suggestions for parks to visit, hikes, restaurants with outdoor dining would be appreciated. Looking into Madrona Manor.
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Old Oct 30th, 2020, 10:05 AM
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We did the following redwoods/coast trip about 3 weeks ago. We drove along the coast from north to south because we started in Healdsburg & ended at our home close to SFO (2 days later). I recommend that you drive south to north so the sun won't be in your face (if it is a sunny day).

Head out of Healdsburg on Westside Road (the road north of the Madrona Manor) traveling southwest to the Russian River. There are lots of wineries & vineyards on Westside Rd. Then follow the Russian River west through Guerneville and then to where the road along the river hits Hwy 1 (famous coast road). Then drive south to Bodega Bay & back (just go as far south until you start to see commerce before Bodega Bay - no need to go into Bodega Bay). When you are driving north from Bodega Bay, keep heading north on Hwy 1 to Fort Ross. Visit Fort Ross. Perhaps have lunch at the Timber Cove Lodge just north of Ft Ross (you'll see it). Then continue north to Mendocino & visit Mendocino (cute town - the series "Murder She Wrote" had Mendocino as it's "home" - although the show was supposed to be in Maine).

After visiting Mendocino, drive south through Little River & Albion to Hwy 128. Head southeast on 128 through Navarro River Redwoods State Park through Bonneville and on to Cloverdale. Then south on 101 back to Healdsburg.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 31st, 2020, 09:35 AM
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Thanks, StuDudley. We biked out to Bodega Bay on that trip in 2007 and stayed the night there. Then rode up Rt. 1 before turning inland at the Russian River. Sounds like a great exploration. Just booked a room at the Madrona Manor! Any other restaurant or things to do recommendations welcomed!
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Old Oct 31st, 2020, 11:01 AM
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Dine at the Madrona Manor. We've had many excellent meals there. It is/was a Michelin 1 star restaurant. Dining now is iffy because of all the virus stuff. Many restaurants are only serving outside - and we have had unusually warm weather so far. Don't know what the rules will be when you are here about inside dining at ?% of capacity. Rules change almost daily. San Francisco was set to open restaurants at 50% capacity this week - but that was cancelled yesterday because of an unexpected jump in infection/hospital rates. It was their second last-minute-cancel this year. Madrona Manor has a kinda inside/outside dining place.

Have lunch at Mustard's Grill just north of Yountville. Home Page | Mustards Grill . The owner is kind of an icon - but her house burned down with this month's fire & she lost her entire collection of over 2,000 rare cookbooks.

The nicest part of Hwy 1 is north of the Russian River.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Oct 31st, 2020 at 11:13 AM.
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