Harvest season in wine country means big events and equally sizable crowds. Winter brings cooler albeit still pleasant temps that rarely dip below 60 degrees, making it the ideal weather for sweater-clad early morning walks as the mist rolls off the hills, swirling Pinot noir at the many biodynamic wineries in the Russian River Valley, and hiking in Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve. The farmers market continues operating year-round. The field-to-fork restaurants, art galleries, indie shops, and tasting rooms in downtown buzz with a quieter yet still lively energy.
Where to stay: A stylish, contemporary, eco-oriented home base — that’s surprisingly halcyon given its address just steps from Healdsburg Plaza — Harmon Guest House offers minimally-minded suites with fireplaces and soaking tubs as well as a popular rooftop for sunset cocktails.