Honestly, glamping was a pretty unknown concept until I started to see it a few times on my Instagram feed. For the uninformed, glamping, or glamorous camping, is the camping experience, but instead of pitching your tent and a lot of the other work, you stay in a tent cabin with a nice comfy bed!
We decided to give it a try over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2020, as it allowed for physical distancing from others and allowed us to get outside! So we headed over to Wildhaven Sonoma for a 3 day, 2-night glamping adventure in Northern California! *Transparency* We did some partnering with Wildhaven Sonoma on multimedia content, however, this review was not paid for or influenced in any way by them.
Glamping in Northern California’s Wine County
Choosing to glamp at Wildhaven Sonoma puts one in the heart of wine country, specifically the Alexander Vally AVA. We booked in late fall, with the leaves changing to beautiful colours and the air getting brisker with the night. Wildhaven Sonoma’s deluxe cabins are located steps away from the Russian River and made for a beautiful setting for our two-night stay.
The actual tent cabin site is very clean! A hammock, firepit, picnic table are all located right in front of your tent cabin. On the tent cabin’s porch were two small chairs and a table to enjoy morning coffee or an afternoon snack. Inside the canvas tent was the luxurious queen bed, coat rack with a small mirror, an area for shoes, a rechargeable lantern, and a heater and fan unit. The heater unit was super nice as it definitely got cold once you moved away from the firepit after smores! There were also two nightstands, with lamps and charging units for your small electronics. If you’re a morning light person, you could unzip the “windows” to let more light or air in as you wanted.
If you’re going for the full glamping experience, you most likely, like us, are going to fire up that fire pit and have a cookout! One of my favourite things about Wildhaven Sonoma’s site was that they had firewood available onsite for purchase for people like us who don’t have easy wood access. This made making a fire and deciding we might need more wood less stressful and meant we could relax on site more. We brought a few different meals to cook, and if you’ve gone camping, you know, dish time is never fun. But this is glamping, and Wildhaven Sonoma has a dishwashing station right next to the bathrooms. And if you want to be a grill master, they even have some excellent gas grills available for use as well.
Speaking about bathrooms, there are also showers, which is super nice after a day of hiking! And for the summertime, after playing in the Russian River, you can also rinse off using their outdoor showers too! Nothing is more than a 60-second walk from your tent cabin and made the whole experience easy on us.
Depending on how you spend your time and what you bring, you may feel the desire to enjoy some local wine, cheese, or even chocolate. Or perhaps you forgot your smores kit at home. Well, for those who fall into those categories, the shop at Wildhaven Sonoma is well stocked. White wine chilled, cheese ready with crackers, and those smores kits for everyone! And no need to carry your wallet; they just add it to your card on file! And we were fortunate enough to be there on a day when they had live, socially distanced music on the patio!
What to do around the area?
The other thing that makes Wildhaven Sonoma such a great glamping spot is its superb location in California. On their website, they have some sample itineraries; however, I’m going to go over the places we went and why we recommend hitting them up while glamping at Wildhaven Sonoma.
Staying at Wildhaven Sonoma, you are uniquely situated in the heart of a few different AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas). One of these areas is Alexander Valley, and its namesake vineyard, Alexander Valley Vineyards, is a must go. With an inexpensive tasting fee ($10-20), and a focus on making great Zinfandels, there’s no way I can’t recommend it. Kat and I went for their Estate Tasting. Our host was kind, educational, and funny, letting us know some of the history and intricacies of each wine we tried. And at an under $30 price point, we walked away with two bottles! Also, their vineyard was beautiful, and they were kind enough to let us shoot in there at sunset as well! Also, head to our Instagram to see our romantic reel from the vineyard!
There are many vineyards in this area, but if you’re looking for gorgeous views close to Wildhaven Sonoma, MacRostie is where to go. With a steeper tasting fee and bottles, the view is worth it. Also, at the time, they partnered with a local market for a charcuterie box, and it was fantastic! The other thing to note about MacRostie’s location is if you’re a cyclist, this might be one of the prettiest roads in the Napa-Sonoma region to ride through, and I definitely regretted not bringing my bike.
The Russian River
I grew up vacationing at the Russian River and have always loved it! It is beautiful, fun, and allows for many activities. I have seen photos of people playing in it, floating on tubes, and kayaking! We decided to rent kayaks from UC Davis Outdoor Adventure for this trip to try on the river. Now I don’t think we had the best inflatable kayaks out there, and we are not experienced kayakers in any shape or form. We struggled with the current. It took us down the river, under Highway 128, and then we decided to pull to shore. What worked out for us as we found a shortcut path right back to our glamping site on the right-hand shore! Honestly, if we hadn’t been cutting it close already with reservations at the winery, we might’ve tried to paddle back, but our short kayak journey was still beautiful!
The other thing that is super accessible right from Wildhaven Sonoma is hiking along the Russian River! We took a path to the left, going down from the site and had a pleasant and relaxing river hike. The trail continues for a while; there are all sorts of birds and fauna to look at as well! If you aren’t keen on actually getting in the water, this would be my recommendation.
As many of the beautiful forest hikes are closed due to a harsh fire season, we did a bit of looking around AllTrails for alternatives. We came across Riverfront Regional Park just outside Healdsburg. This park honestly is excellent for families, dogs, really everyone. With a paved loop around the lake, a more rugged lakeside trail for the more adventuresome group, a short but challenging hike into the Redwoods, and plenty of picnic spots, this was a fantastic location. Also, be sure to look up at the tops of the Redwoods as you might get lucky and see a bald eagle! Parking is inexpensive, but be sure to pay as parking fines are not fun.
If you’re more of city folk, Healdsburg should satisfy all your needs. From cute shops, tasting rooms, art galleries, and delicious food, you won’t be bored in Healdsburg. We didn’t spend too much time here as we wanted to go explore nature and wine taste (also with COVID somethings weren’t open). Our recommendation for food though is Bravas Bar de Tapas. With a delicious and expansive menu of Spanish styled tapas, we ended up returning for a second meal, and it was so good. The chicken croquettes and the pig ears are both worth it alone, but their cocktails, sangria, and port wine menu are a bonus.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway to wine country or want to take the family camping without worrying about tents and sleeping bags, Wildhaven Sonoma is a great option for you! With a more than optimal location in the Napa-Sonoma region, Wildhaven Sonoma provides an easy and accessible way to glamp, explore nature, dive into the local wineries, and experience the diversity that is in this region of Northern California!
If you want to see more from our glamping experience, head over to our YouTube channel and check out our glamping vlogs! Or check out our cinematic experience below (coming soon)!