If you’re looking for a new adventure along the Wine Road, head north and take a stroll through Cloverdale. We recently visited Cloverdale and were delighted by all we found. A small town with a big heart and a lot of community spirit, plus some great finds for locals and visitors alike.
Cloverdale used to be my go-to spot for antique shopping, but as my furniture needs were fulfilled, I realized I hadn’t visited Cloverdale in some time. I had it on good authority that a new shop opened last year called Uniques and Antiques, so of course, it was one of my first stops—I can’t wait to visit again.
This 12,000 square foot building hosts 40+ vendors, offering antiques, collectibles, handmade items, and more. According to the owner, they have one of the largest collections of antique glass and vintage jewelry around. They might also have that same claim on vintage Hawaiian shirts, cowboy boots, records, and National Geographic magazines. Among the collectibles you’ll discover new pottery, tie-dye baby and children’s clothes, and gemstones and fossils. For anyone who loves to browse for the unexpected, this is a definite shopping destination.
Though downtown Cloverdale is only a few blocks long, it is lined with a series of specialty stores, like a quilt shop, boutique clothing, gift shops, and galleries.
Arts, Theater & Entertainment
With a population under 10,000, you might not expect to find so many cultural events, festival, or music opportunities, but Cloverdale will surprise you. The Cloverdale Arts Alliance has a wonderful gallery, showcasing a variety of local artisans’ works. We found the perfect hand carved salad bowl to purchase as a wedding gift. In addition to the gallery, the Arts Alliance offers music and art classes, wine appreciation workshops, and Friday Night Live at the Plaza.
Friday Night Live is a weekly free concert that includes family-friendly activities every Friday night from June until Labor Day. In conjunction with Friday Night Live, there is also a street fair hosting local vendors offering fresh and interesting food choices, local artists and crafters, preserved foods and wellness products.
As you stroll through Cloverdale you’ll see astonishing art pieces, most of them in them in the downtown area. Know as the Sculpture Trail, there are at total of 16 pieces in town. Then south of town the Sculpture Trail continues to Geyserville, where through the Geyserville area you can view 27 sculptures. Promise to tell you more about them when I visit Geyserville soon.
Theater is another option for entertainment in this small hamlet. Cloverdale Performing Arts Center puts on plays and musicals throughout the year. In August, enjoy The Foreigner, in October, 33 Variations, and in December, celebrate the holidays with Nutcracker… the musical.
If watching films is one of your favorite past times, the Alexander Valley Film Society host a film festival every October, plus other events and screenings throughout the year. They also offer classes through the AV Film Lab and a summer film camp.
If you’re a history buff, be sure to visit the Cloverdale History Center and Museum also located in downtown Cloverdale.
Thirsty or Hungry?
With all these activities, you’ll find yourself needing some food and drink, and there are many options available. Plank Coffee is a local’s favorite to grab a cup of organic coffee or tea. The food options include a large selection of pastries with gluten-free and vegan options available. Or, get that post-lunch pick-me-up cup of something and enjoy one of the many places to sit along the street as you sip and savor.
Dahlia & Sage Community Market is just steps off the main street, and offers fare for a Wine Country picnic, quick lunch, or take out dinner. Their dessert, pastries and deli case held more temptations than I could resist.
A local shared a secret with me—Pick’s Drive In has the best root beer floats ever made. With a recommendation like that, how can you not try it!
Maybe you’d rather sit down and enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer with your meal. Then check out Savvy on First, Trading Post, or Papa’s Pizza Café. Each distinctly different, these three restaurants share one theme in common—excellent food using fresh local ingredients. The day we visited Cloverdale, we enjoyed a stellar breakfast at Savvy on First, and were tempted by their extensive wine list that include a nice selections of local producers.
Railroad Station Bar and Grill serves more traditional grill food, and offers a full bar, along with a great list of local wines. There are other restaurants throughout Cloverdale, but our exploration mostly focused on the downtown area. Others you can explore include Hamburger Ranch and BBQ, Piacére Ristorante Italiano, La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, Eagles Nest Deli, Los Girasoles, Panaderia El Palomo, Tian Yuen, 101 Thai Way, Ruth McGowan’s Brew Pub, El Molcajete, Zini’s Diner, and a few of the usual chain eateries.
Stay the Night or Longer
There is more to do around the area including water activities on the Russian River at Cloverdale River Park, which is minutes from town, or boating, water skiing, or hiking at Lake Sonoma. Of course, there are also plenty of exceptional wineries to visit in the area. If you really want to explore Cloverdale and the surrounding area, then staying a night or two seems like the best plan. While in Cloverdale, we visited four Wine Road lodging members—each offering something different and each equally inviting.
Staying In Cloverdale
The Alexander Inn is located just a block or so from downtown to the west, so exploring by foot or strolling to and from dinner is doable. Originally built in 1879, this luxury bed and breakfast has been restored and updated to give visitors old world charm with modern amenities.
Kelley & Young Wine Garden Inn is also just a few blocks from downtown on the east side. Built in 1901, this perfectly restored Queen Anne Victorian is listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. Owners Kathleen Kelley and Jim Young, also own Kelley & Young Winery, so there is plenty of wine poured for visitors, and also plenty of charming places to sit, sip, relax and enjoy. The day we stopped by there were gluten-free cookies in the lobby, telling me that they cater to their guest individual needs.
Enjoy Country Living
Auberge on the Vineyard, just a short drive on the outskirts of Cloverdale, is nestled among stately oaks and vineyard vistas. It may be just minutes from the action, yet this charming Victorian home built 1910 seem very peaceful and remote. Renowned for their French-inspired cuisine, owners Susan and Roxanne offer mouthwatering breakfasts and gladly accommodate any special dietary needs.
The last lodging we visited on our trek to Cloverdale definitely offers the sense of being remote, mostly because it truly is! Situated on five-acres above Cloverdale, Old Crocker Inn was founded as a hunting retreat in the 1880s by railroad magnate Charles Crocker. Seeped with history, each of the rooms in the main building is named for Crocker’s friends who once frequented the lodge—Huntington, Stanford, Judah, Hopkins, and the last room is name for the founder, Crocker. There are also five cottage rooms just steps away from the main building, and every room and cottage has it own bathroom and soaking tub. After a delicious breakfast, visitors can enjoy the sprawling grounds and pool area. If you looking to unplug and unwind, this place is worth checking out.
And Yet More…
When I spoke with a delightful woman from the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, I learned the town has even more activities, like a classic car show, motorcycle show, Octoberfest, classical concerts, and a Books on Stage series.
If you want to experience a charming small town in Wine Country, check out Cloverdale.