by Mary Charlebois
Healdsburg Plaza is made for an easy-going escape. Arrive and no more driving is needed. Down to earth, friendly, eclectic, surrounded by world-class vineyards and organic farms, Healdsburg has it all. You’ll find unique lodging, recreation, entertainment, scrumptious food, local wine, tranquil spas and out-of-the-ordinary shopping. And best of all, you arrive at the plaza, park your car, and leave it till you head for home. At Healdsburg Plaza, everything is within walking distance, even a hot air balloon flight.
Hot air balloon with champagne brunch
Before sunrise you’ll meet at Shed, just one block from Duchamp Hotel, your no-drive getaway base. Pre-flight coffee, tea and pastries are on hand before loading into a van and heading for the balloon launch site.
The sunrise flight over Santa Rosa and surrounding vineyards and farms is inspiring. Along the way, you’ll see other balloons taking to the early morning thermals, wildlife foraging in vineyards, ravens, songbirds and the world coming alive. On a clear day, you’ll see the Pacific Ocean to the west. The pilot communicates with the ground crew via radio and narrates for passengers while answering questions. Dress in layers, temperatures will vary with sunlight and altitude.
After the flight, you’re returned to Shed where champagne brunch is part of your Up and Away Hot Air Ballooning ticket. Up and Away picks-up passengers in downtown Healdsburg. Their service and safety are excellent. Every detail of your sunrise journey is seen to by warm and friendly professionals. It’s worth getting up in the wee hours for this extraordinary experience.
At Shed, all food and wine are locally sourced and over-the-top mouthwatering. Expertly prepared, the selection of brunch dishes served meet most dietary requirements. Offerings change with the season and local availability. Each plate is dressed with crisp, fresh greens.
The setting is al fresco, on a creek-side deck, beside a pocket park and native plant garden. The mood is relaxed and California comfortable. Fellow passengers and the pilot chat and share their stories while reliving the morning’s adventure.
After brunch, Shed, is a perfect place to forage for in-room snacking and libations. A modern grange, Shed, is a café, market and community gathering space. Local farmers and food crafters gather to collaborate, producing exciting, seasonal food and farm products from locally sourced ingredients. Shed is a destination all by itself.
Afternoon wine and food tasting
Just two blocks from Duchamp Hotel, sits Healdsburg Plaza. In the center is one acre Healdsburg Plaza Park has grass, benches, trees and a gazebo. Enjoy music and festivals year-round in the plaza.
This inviting area of parks, stores, restaurants, spas and wine shops is designed for whiling away an afternoon. Take your time, it’s unhurried. Surrounding the stately plaza, tiny shop after tiny shop hold wine, cheese, olive oil, boutiques of every description, antiques, art, crafts, cafes, bistros, restaurants and bars, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers – really.
Dinner at four spots
For dinner, a ‘progressive dine-around-the-plaza’ is a marvelous way to have a taste of several eateries. This adventure is best experienced unplanned. Be bold, head to the plaza and have cocktails at the first place you see serving alcohol. Leave there and turn left. Have an appetizer at the next eatery along the way. Leave the appetizer restaurant, turn left and have an entrée at the next restaurant in line. Repeat for dessert and coffee. A 4-course meal will give you a taste of four establishments and make an unforgettable meal and memory. With so many options around the plaza, a progressive diner makes driving completely unnecessary.
Relax at Duchamp Hotel
After a light breakfast at the hotel, spend the morning lounging around Duchamp’s hot tub and pool in the sculpture garden. Try your hand at croquet in the Duchamp olive groves. The property is secluded. You feel you’re in the country even though you’re in the middle of Healdsburg. The spacious rooms and grounds are peaceful, unique and comfy.
Lazy, long, lunch
Walk to the plaza stopping in cheese shops, delis, butchers, bakeries and of course, a wine shop. Get the makings for lunch. Cross the street to the park, eat relax and people watch while planning your next no-drive escape to Healdsburg.
-Healdsburg is 65 miles north of Golden Gate Bridge on Hwy 101. Take the Central Healdsburg exit onto Healdsburg Avenue. Continue to the center of town – Healdsburg Plaza is at Healdsburg Avenue and Matheson Street. Get more Healdsburg Plaza information at http://business.healdsburg.com/list/QL/shopping-specialty-retail-23
-Duchamp Hotel is at 421 Foss Street, Healdsburg. Telephone 707-431-1300 or their website – http://www.duchamphotel.com/
-Up and Away Ballooning can be reached at 707-836-0171 and their website – https://www.up-away.com/