A Culinary Inspiration through California's North Coast

Soul-stirring beaches. Giant redwoods. Charming coastal towns, veiled by mist. These images come to mind when people think of California’s North Coast, a land of mystery and romance. For foodies, thinking of North Coast areas like Sonoma and Mendocino prompt a Pavlovian response, whetting the appetite for some of the state’s best wineries and restaurants.

Day One: Humboldt Counties/Mendocino
If you’re feeling adventurous, venture into Humboldt County’s redwood country, including a visit to Humboldt Redwoods State Park . If you decide to stay for lunch, check out Restaurant 301  in Eureka, lauded by the likes of Bon Appetit and one of the few eateries in the world to win the Wine Spectator Grand Award.

Or, go to the Benbow Inn Restaurant near the Avenue of the Giants for dinner.  This local favorite offers exquisite fine dining and excellent wines – and has received the Wine Spectator Magazine Excellence Award for six years.

Or you may choose to start your day three hours south in Mendocino, where you can experience a deep connection to the food you are eating by visiting the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, the premier organic raw vegan school in the world.

For lunch, be like the locals and kick back and relax at Patterson’s Pub in “so beautiful it looks almost unreal” Mendocino Village, where you can have fish cooked in Panko breadcrumbs with chips.

If you’re more of a chocoholic, visit the Mendocino Chocolate Company for yummy local fudge, truffles, barks and more.

Day Two: Lake County/Healdsburg
Drive two hours to Nice in Lake County, home of the appropriately named Clear Lake, the largest clear lake entirely within California. Situated along 2 miles of lakeshore, the agricultural resort-style winery Ceago Vinegarden , owned and operated by Jim Fetzer of the prominent winemaking family, promotes a holistic farming environment for plant and animal life.

In the afternoon, to Healdsburg in Sonoma County. where you’ll find one of the most famous vineyards in California – Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estate . Try some samples in the tasting room or food and wine pairing in their Wine Center.

In Dry Creek Valley just outside of Healdsburg, visit the charming Lambert Bridge Winery , where shaded teak dining tables invite you to enjoy great wine and great food shared with friends and family.

For a quick gourmet meal, try slow food at Bovolo , with food by celebrated chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart.

For more formal fare, visit Madrona Manor Wine Country Inn & Restaurant in Healdsburg, one of the top five restaurants in Napa and Sonoma counties, according to Zagat.

Day Three: Santa Rosa/Kenwood/Glen Ellen
Start the day by visiting one of the participating Farm Trail farms in Sonoma County, featuring immersive experiences like farm stays, produce farms or farmer’s markets.

Oenophiles must tour or taste at Benziger Family Winery in nearby Glen Ellen, which is creating a new definition of wine quality through its certified-sustainable, organic and biodynamic winegrowing practices.

For lunch, a great stop is Francis Ford Coppola’s Rosso & Bianco .

Try one of the best restaurants in Santa Rosa for dinner – Syrah Bistro . Here Chef Josh Silvers offers a monthly changing menu of seasonal California-French cuisine, consistently focusing on organic and sustainably farmed fruits and vegetables.

Day Four: Sonoma/Petaluma
Start the day at the historic Buena Vista Winery , one of the oldest in the state, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Create your own wine blend at Ravenswood Winery , just outside the charming town center of Sonoma, which has a historic shopping plaza in the heart of downtown.

For lunch, head to one of many great restaurants in the plaza, or try The General’s Daughter Restaurant, recently touted by Gourmet magazine as the best restaurant in Sonoma, and featuring California Low country cooking.

Next door is the renowned Ramekins culinary school, offering great classes.

In the afternoon visit the Adobe Pumpkin Farm , a 30-acre working farm that features a “you-pick” concept for seasonal items such as pumpkins (fall), strawberries (spring), tomatoes (summer) and fresh-cut flowers and gift shop all year. A haunted house, farm animals, hayrides and corn maze are also featured in the fall.

**This itinerary was created based on feedback from various destination marketing organizations, so we apologize if there are any minor inaccuracies. Dates and hours may vary, so we suggest you confirm dates and hours in advance of visit.