7 On Your Side: Inexpensive holiday getaway ideas


Just 65 miles north of San Francisco, Healdsburg is home to fewer than 12,000 people.

Whether you want to enjoy a sip of tea or the area's many fine wineries, you'll likely find something that's right for you.

Start your day at the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society. Through January 12, you can check out their Christmas on the Ranch Exhibit. It features toys from the early 1900s up to the 1950s, along with a few distant memories.

"That picture right there behind me, is snow in the Healdsburg Plaza in 1877," said Holly Hoods with the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society.

The museum curator says it snows in Healdsburg about every 20 years. It's open Wednesday through Sundays from 11 to 4. Admission is free.

Chocolate lovers with a passion for wine might want to check out the Scharffen Berger Chocolate and Wine Pairing at Ferrari-Carano's Seasons of the Vineyard.

"The first sip is just really telling your palate that there's something coming," said Cy Olney with Scharffen Berger Chocolate. "And with a second sip or a second taste of chocolate, you're able to get more of the flavor notes out of it."

Three chocolate pairings year round are just 15 bucks.

December 15 is the day six Victorian inns get all decked out for Christmas and open themselves up for tours between 2 and 4. Donate canned goods or five bucks for the local food pantry for free admission.

"We have cider and punch and homemade cookies," said Lucy Lewand with the Camelia Inn. "Persimmons are in season so you'll probably see a lot of that. And everybody is decorated to the hilt."

Then enjoy high tea at the Hotel Healdsburg. You'll get Charlie Palmer's signature tea along with delicious pastries and tea sandwiches served up by the pastry chef all in the setting of the decorated hotel lobby.

"We thought, why aren't we using this to make a more of a festive gathering and annual holiday tradition," said Circe Sher with Hotel Healdsburg.

It's offered every single weekend until the last Sunday before Christmas -- $32 for basic tea service with an additional $10 for the optional tea time cocktail.

Madrona Manor is the scene of the popular Dickens Dinner. The Twelve Night Singers entertain you in between menu items from a fixed five course dinner.

"A lot of people tell us that that's what kicks off the holiday season for them, coming to a dinner here, one of the Dickens dinners at Madrona Manor," said Kevin West with Madrona Manor.

Dinners start at $90 and run through Christmas Day.

The wine country is full of gems. So go out and explore!

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