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I am nearing the end of California recaps; I still have the Barrel Tasting event that we traveled all that way for and a few random tasting room recaps to write, but other than that, I guess it’s time to start planning another trip to Sonoma, right?

Golden Gate Bridge

We’ve stayed at many places in Napa and Sonoma over the years, and since several of you mentioned in the comments that you are planning trips out to wine country, I thought a post on places to stay would be helpful. Of the seven or so places we have stayed, I would recommend all of them, for different reasons and different budgets.

field of mustard

Best Western Dry Creek Inn – On our last trip to Sonoma, we were definitely keeping budget in mind. We also knew that we had a lot of plans to be out and about and would likely not be spending much time in our room. We opted for the Best Western because of its great prices and the fact that it is located within about 15 minutes walking distance of Healdsburg plaza (and places like Barndiva!)

Best Western Healdsburg

Well, we loved the Best Western. We were in the newer Tuscan wing, and our room had a Jacuzzi, super comfy big bed, wifi, and a fireplace. It also included a pretty good breakfast.

We also stayed in a Best Western in Sonoma and were more than pleased with those accommodations. With a TravelZoo deal, our room, with a fireplace and balcony, included breakfast and two massage vouchers for the local Massage Envy, which turned out to be fantastic. Again, a really great deal and a comfy, clean room.

Best Western Healdsburg

Best Western

In addition to Sonoma and Healdsburg, we also ventured to the Sonoma Coast and stayed at the Timber Cove Inn, our second time at this magical property.

This year we took advantage of an amazing deal Timber Cove had and scored an ocean facing room with a Jacuzzi that looked out over the Pacific, a balcony, and a fire place. We slept with the screen door slightly open so that the chilly air, pouring rain, and crashing waves lulled us off to slumber. Timber Cove is remote, but it has a fantastic restaurant, cozy with great food and wine.

Timber Cove

Timber Cove

Timber Cove also has a great room with a huge fire place, perfect for relaxing by before dinner. This inn is a true getaway, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to unplug. (They do have wifi, which did come in handy!)


If you’re looking for something a little more expensive and centrally located to the Russian River Valley, Vintner’s Inn is a great choice.  We stayed there for my 30th birthday, and we especially loved the vineyard views from our room and the extremely comfortable bed. Service was fantastic as well.

Vintner's Inn

And finally, I can’t post about wine country without posting about one of our favorite places ever, Bella Villa Messina. Just look at this house!

Bella Villa Messina

The inn is gorgeous, happy hour includes great local wine and snacks, and the breakfast is legendary. Bella Villa Messina is also a splurge, but it would be my pick for a special occasion vacation.

Bella Villa Messina

Over in Napa, we absolutely love, love, love The Avia. It is comfortable, luxurious, and centrally located within walking distances of places like Bistro Sabor and Zuzu, among others. It’s definitely my first choice if you are venturing over to Napa Valley for the night.

And now I not only want to book a plane ticket to San Francisco, I would now like a giant plate of bacon and a frittata.

What’s the most important part of a vacation for you?

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Tags: Healdsburg, hotels, inns, Napa, Sonoma, Sonoma Coast, Timber Cove, Travel, wine, wine country

I’m back! Hopefully over the last few days, you have enjoyed the great guest posts! Thanks so much to all of the guest posters for sharing something delicious with us!

Our long weekend in wine country was a perfect whirlwind of relaxation, wonderful people, and great food and wine. I took SO many pictures, and I have decided I will spread my wine country posts out over a few weeks mixed in with other recipes, restaurant reviews, and regular old bloggy stuff (including a very sweet giveaway that I will kick off later today). That way, I won’t bore any of you not interested in the wineries with day after day of wine, and I can give each winery the full write-up it deserves.

Any good holiday begins with beautiful accommodations, and Bella Villa Messina in Healdsburg, CA was hospitality in every sense of the word. After a late Jet Blue flight from Boston to Oakland, we spent a short night in the Holiday Inn Express at Oakland Airport. I highly recommend this hotel if you are ever in need of a quiet, clean place to stay in Oakland. From there, and very early Friday morning, we headed straight for my current favorite place on earth, the Dry Creek Valley. After a few winery visits, we found our home away from home at the top of a hill overlooking the valley.

Bella Villa Messina

As you can see, the property is simply stunning, and the views spectacular whether with a fiery setting sun or a foggy Northern California morning. Our room was comfortable and spacious, though I somehow missed taking any shots! It had a fluffy, comfy bed, a great view, and even an air purifier and fan! As someone who can not sleep without constant noise, I appreciated this little detail!

Bella Villa Messina image Healdsburg, CA

Our incredibly sweet and charming hosts, Harold and Jerry, offered a cocktail hour each evening. Full of delicious little bites like olives, cheese, nuts, and fresh bread, cocktail hour gave us the chance to meet other guests and to further take in the views. We enjoyed the time in their art-filled dining area with their 3 adorable dogs, Bernice, Brindle, and Basel.

Villa Messina Cocktail Hour

mixed nuts, cocktail hour blue cheese

Bella Villa Messina Healdsburg

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Oh yes, and their pair of llamas. . .


I thought I may have just been tired when, on our first morning at breakfast, I saw a black and white llama head floating on by. But no, there they were!

Bella Villa Messina breakfast

Speaking of breakfast, our stay included a full gourmet meal every morning. Each day was different and completely homemade or locally grown from the bread. . .

fresh baked bread

. . . to the fruit

California berries fresh fruit

. . . to the spinach frittata and bacon.

spinach frittata

This bed and breakfast is simply an elegant and comfortable place to spend your wine country visit. It is located in my favorite valley but is close to Napa Valley as well; we easily spent a day there as it’s only about an hour’s drive. I have so many more stories to tell but for now must get back to work. I hope you all had nice weekends, and I am looking forward to catching up on blog reading. Tonight, I am headed to the first Mystery Meet Boston dinner, and I will hopefully see some of you there!

What kinds of details make a vacation special for you?

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Tags: Healdsburg, hotels, inns, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Travel, travel to wine country, where to stay in wine country, wine, wine country

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