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First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

Indianapolis...
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First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

My husband and I are coming up on our 13th anniversary and I would like to surprise him with a trip to Sonoma. I have been to Napa, but we would both prefer less crowds. My hubs enjoys a good Chardonnay and I am more of a Syrah or red Zin girl.

That being said, we are of course, what I would say, on the low-to-mid range budget. My intentions were to do 1-2 days in Sonoma -Russian River, and then drive to Yosemite for an additional two days. We are from the midwest and are not familiar at all with this region of the country. My trip to Napa was a one day whirlwind trip with a girlfriend, so I didn't get to see any of the surrounding area.

I would love to learn more about the more "budget-friendly" places to stay, wineries and restaurants (if such a thing exists) and also, what is the preferred time of year to visit?

Appreciate any and all comments and advice.

Edited: 07 August 2012, 23:46
Roseville...
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1. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

When are you coming? And how long will you be here?

From your post it looks like 4 days. If so, I'd pick either Sonoma or Yosemite. 4 days is not enough for both, imo.

Indianapolis...
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2. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

I wasn't sure on the timing, because I assumed that the rates go up during particular points during the year. I was thinking of going during an "off" time to get better rates on our lodging.

I know it's a short time, but we have little ones and I only feel comfortable leaving them for so long with family. We'll miss them and I don't want to impose on anyone who is watching them for us for more than four days.

Thanks for your reply!

Stanford, California
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3. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

Just my two cents, but I agree that four days is not enough to do both. On the other hand, it's perfect for enjoying one or the other at a relaxed pace.

Sonoma's Russian River Valley is a good choice for anyone who likes wine, but wants to avoid the crowds, over development and ridiculous prices found in Napa. Four days would allow you enough time to go wine tasting in a beautiful setting (Korbel, Moshin, Porter Creek & Thomas George), drive along lovely, empty, winding country roads (Westside Road & West Dry Creek Road), go canoeing and take a stroll in a redwood forest (Armstrong State Park). You'd also have plenty of time to drive a portion of scenic coastal Highway 1 (something everyone should do at least once in their life) and stop to see some harbor seals - both easily done north of Jenner. Most importantly, you could do it all at a relaxed pace.

You'll want to do some research. Choosing a place to stay isn't easy - there aren't many resonably priced options. Staying mid-week is one way to get a lower rate. Guerneville has some good options (Boon & the West Sonoma Inn), but the town itself can be a turn off if you aren't used to aging hippies and same-sex couples. Frankly, that doesn't bother me, but the occasional glassy-eyed homeless young drifter does. To be fair, the town is also full of outdoorsy young families and straight couples. Don't be put off by my description, but I do want to be honest. For what it's worth, I try to avoid the pretentious loud-talking idiots stumbing around Healdsburg in their stilletos, so whatever.

Roseville...
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4. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

Not asking you to expand your trip; just suggesting you go to Sonoma or Yosemite...not both.

For a romantic trip, it would be hard to beat Mendocino on the coast. And 128 (on way to or from Mendocino) has several excellent wineries as it runs through Anderson Valley.

Go to Mendo on TA & check some pictures.

Edited: 16 August 2012, 06:55
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5. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

Sonoma Valley Inn is a nice budget-friendly place to stay in Sonoma. The Swiss Hotel is a fairly inexpensive venue where you could have a meal. They have a beautiful outdoor patio with a fireplace and fountain and very good pizza and pastas. When you make reservations for your hotel and restaurants,be sure to let them know you are celebrating an anniversary. Most places do something a little extra special to make your time memorable. :)

Newberg, Oregon
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6. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

To satisfy both your chardonnay and zin cravings, you should put Martinelli winery (on River Road just north of Santa Rosa) on your list. They make excellent renditions of both varietals -- as well as gret pinot noir.

Indianapolis...
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7. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

Thank you all for the wonderful advice! We have decided to just limit our trip to Sonoma and not even try Yosemite until a later date. Thanks for all of your suggestions, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to help me.

Forestville...
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8. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

Good suggestions and good decision: see Sonoma this trip and save Yosemite for a separate one! Since Sonoma County is quite spread out and has many distinct regions, I would recommend staying in and focusing on the Sonoma Valley. Most of the wineries and sightseeing is clustered around and easily accessible from one main road: Hwy. 12/Sonoma Hwy. Makes planning easy esp. for the first-time visitor. You can concentrate on the south to north area that will take you from Sonoma Town to Kenwood at the far northern end of the Sonoma Valley. It's less than 15 mi. bet. the 2 areas but there will be an abundance of wineries/tasting rooms to choose from and the route is a very scenic one. Be sure to incorporate a visit to Jack London State Historic Park (www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=478) located near the pretty little village of Glen Ellen--interesting history, nice museum and beautiful views there. You'll also have a chance to take a short walk--or long one if you wish. A good research site for the Sonoma Valley is: www.sonomavalley.com which inc's a detailed listing of lodging choices in all price categories.

Indianapolis...
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9. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

Great info! Thank you. I will definitely look into the places that you mentioned!

10. Re: First timer needs advice on an anniversary trip

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