Just a short drive today, from Willits to Petaluma, just outside of San Francisco. Our stop of the day was located in a trendy upscale town called Healdsburg, where we grabbed a coffee and some baked goodies at a little market and sat outside on the patio with Nixon and Rylie. It had a nice relaxing vibe, but we noticed there weren’t many kids around. I think the town is mostly known for the Wine and Dining, and its a prime place for cycling too. Ry didn’t seem to mind.
Driving past the vineyards in the area was beautiful, and I never would have guessed that the fall colours would be so drastic here. The vineyards were an array of reds and yellows, and were so pretty to drive through.
Our next KOA was nearly full, its a good thing we arrived when we did. Complete with petting zoo, pool, and bouncy trampoline, its not quite as good as the last one, but there are lots of Halloween festivities planned for the weekend, including movie nights, trick or treating, and pumpkin decorating tomorrow.
We were hoping to hit up downtown Petaluma for their afternoon trick or treat trail, but it was smack dab in the centre of nap time, so we passed on it, but then we learned that trick or treating wasn’t really on the agenda in the park tonight. Over dinner we decided that just wouldn’t do, so we took off spur of the moment to find a neighbourhood to take Rylie for her first Halloween. Luckily we found one about 10 minutes away with some beautiful Victorian style homes. Mostly, older people lived there, so we didn’t see too many kids, but enough for her to see what Halloween is all about. The people were also very friendly and welcoming to us and they liked her Koala costume. There was no kissing booth for Nixon this year at our front door, as he got to join us and enjoyed his first trick or treating experience as well.
So, today we took a short half hour drive over to Sonoma, the infamous vineyard area. We opted out of Napa due to proximity and overall size, in addition to online reviews. It seemed that Sonoma had an overall more casual atmosphere, which I guess we can relate to, and its probably more casual than Healdsburg, (although we preferred its town square over Sonoma’s and there were more shops to poke in).
The architecture and building facade in Sonoma was indeed impressive, and the square was large and pretty, complete with duck pond and playgrounds (Rylie’s way of rating a town). There just wasn’t a ton of retail stores, and there wasn’t much for us to do there in a day. One side of the square was mostly museum, another good majority were restaurants and wine tasting. It’s tough to please everyone in our family as the dog can’t go in some places (he’s a bull in a china shop) and the baby doesn’t “belong” in others (wine tasting and fine dining). The cycling is also supposed to be world famous here, but I’m pretty sure taking the baby in the double chariot behind a downhill mountain bike along a hilly highway is not kosher.
So, we hit up a small dog park near the square (Nixon found another energetic lab match), then wandered the square in its circumference, circled back to the playground and ended at the duck pond. We stayed long enough to enjoy an early patio side meal (lupper if you will), complete with baby in high chair and our personal hoover (dog) underfoot. The ambience was quite european, and with the sun shining, and a french speaking couple beside us we could have been across the pond.
Overall though, I have to say there was more hype to the Napa Valley for me, than was delivered. I would rather spend time in a hipster surf town along the coast (like Cannon Beach) than in a wine lovers dream like Sonoma. We came, we semi-conquered in best way we could, and now we move on to bigger things… like San Francisco.
Oh, and did I mention we hit up a whole foods market on the way home? I missed it, its so fantastic.