While it’s never a bad time to visit California wine country, there’s something special about taking a trip to the Golden State’s premier wine-growing region during the summertime. While fine wines are an undeniable draw year-round, favorable temperatures, stunning surroundings and ample opportunities for recreation make the summer months an especially opportune time to visit Anderson Valley.
If you’re planning a visit of your own and looking for fun things to do in the summer in Northern California, here are some of our favorite ways to spend the day.
Sampling white, sparkling and rosé wines
While there are no hard and fast rules about when to drink, say, white wine versus red, it’s incredibly refreshing to enjoy a glass of white, sparkling or rosé wine during the summertime. Some of our favorite regional stops for white wine include Philo’s Toulouse Vineyards (try the Estate Riesling or Gewürztraminer!). You can also check out Husch Vineyards for Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc or Phillips Hill Winery for Alsatian white wines while you’re in town!
Check out our Calendar of Events to see what is happening during your visit!
Hitting the beach
You can’t visit Wine Country during the summer without taking a trip to the beach, and with six spectacular beaches spanning Mendocino County, there’s plenty of space in the sand. If you prefer burning calories to catching rays, there’s no shortage of scenic and easy-to-challenging hiking trails in the region – and many of the area’s top travel destinations (Jug Handle State Park and Beach and Mendocino Headlands State Park, to name a few) offer beaches to lounge on and hiking trails to explore.
Keep an eye out for driftwood forts and structures, a signature look on beaches like Navarro Beach. You too can spend a day collecting wood washed up from the days when lumber was what brought thousands to the area to settle. Plan accordingly as our beaches aren’t the warmer Southern California beaches some might expect. Layers are always a good idea!
Sipping on wine cocktails
Air BnBs and local inns with kitchenettes are common in Mendocino and allow for some downtime and entertaining at home, including coming up with your own culinary creations!
You may be familiar with sangria, but there’s a whole wide world of wine cocktails out there in addition to this fruity Spanish favorite. If you’re day drinking ahead of an evening out, we recommend mixing or sipping on low-ABV wine cocktails to give yourself some staying power. Try these wine cocktail recommendations from Kristy at Foursight Wines.
Wining & dining at top destinations
After a day spent exploring California Wine Country, you’re going to need something in your stomach.
Cruise over to Elk, a charming nearby seaside town, and enjoy French-inspired fare paired alongside fine wines from throughout the region at the Elk Cove Inn. Or, pop over to the Harbor House Inn, Mendocino County’s only Michelin Star restaurant, for stunning seaside views and a gourmet menu featuring seasonally and regionally inspired proteins, produce and flavors. Don’t overlook The Elk Store who is famed for its gourmet take on the casual sandwich.
Taking a trip to Henry Woods State Park
Earn your wine by making your way through Hendy Woods State Park first. The park’s towering redwoods create a lush, thick canopy that keeps you cool, regardless of outside temps – and there are more than five miles of trails (some of which are wheelchair accessible!) to explore throughout the park in addition to opportunities for swimming, kayaking and canoeing on the Navarro River access (bring your own though).
Look for indicators to learn more about the ‘Hendy Hermit’ who made this park his home for 18 years.
Getting back to nature at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Each year, more than 86,000 people visit the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens to tour the grounds, immerse themselves in nature and get a glimpse of the striking, fragrant rhododendrons that dot so much of the seaside landscape. A great stop for visitors of all ages, the ‘garden by the sea’ showcases the natural beauty of the region and offer plenty of opportunities for picture-taking, too.
This venue has been the home of Winesong!, the county’s most famous wine auction happening every September. Anderson Valley wineries attend the Pinot Celebration annually on the second Friday in September.
If you’re planning a romantic getaway, a girls’ or guys’ trip, a family vacation or a day or weekend outing this summer, consider California Wine Country. With top-ranked restaurants, globally acclaimed wineries and a near-endless array of options for recreation and outdoor exploration, there’s no shortage of things to do, see and sip on in Northern California this summer.
Phone: (707) 895-WINE