West of Sacramento, discover a small town with artsy flair

Neighborhoods of restored Victorians, pocket parks, a thrivingdowntown bursting with local art and independent restaurants― this hardly sounds like your average exit off theinterstate. That's why the small town of Winters is a refreshingmini detour just off I-505. Walk the downtown's five blocks anddiscover a friendly community boasting good eats, art galleries,quirky shops, and live music. A busy Art Walk is held on the firstSaturday of each month (noon-6 on April 7, 2007), but you'll find aproud local spirit anytime.

GETTTING THERE

Winters is about 60 miles northeast of San Francisco and 30miles west of Sacramento. From I-80, take I-505 north for 10 milesand exit on State 128; go west about a mile to downtown. Visit www.wintersca.net for generalinformation.

GO

The Palms Playhouse A live-music venue (in the former operahouse) featuring eclectic, nationally known acts. INFO: Ticketsfrom $15; 13 Main St.; www.palmsplayhouse.com;530/795-1825.

Putah Creek Nature Park Head to the century-old trestlebridge to find a wilder walk on the trails along Putah Creek. INFO:Off Railroad Ave., just south of the Winters Community Center.

BIKE

Velo City Bicycle Center Spring is the perfect time forcycling (or a country drive) on the bucolic, rolling backroadsaround Winters, especially in the hills to the west. If you'relooking for a good route, stop in at Velo City Bicycle Center; thefriendly folks there will be happy to advise you. INFO: 41 MainSt.; www.velocitybicycles.com;530/795-3454.

SHOP

Briggs & Co. A funky art gallery and garden shop northof downtown, with a cool old bus in the courtyard. INFO: ClosedSun-Tue; 820 Railroad Ave.; 530/795-9505.

EAT

Ficelle Sisters Marianne Washabaugh and Joanne Knudson servehomey weekday lunches; on Friday evenings, crowds line up for tapasand sangria. INFO: $; 11-2:30 Tue-Fri, tapas 6:30-10 Fri (call foradditional hours); 5C E. Main St.; 530/795-9593.

Putah Creek Café & Bakery With bright oilclothtablecloths and hearty from-scratch country breakfasts, this busyspot is a great place to start your day. INFO: $; 1 Main St.;530/795-2682.

Buckhorn Steak & Roadhouse Meaty classics like steak,prime rib, and lamb. INFO: $$$; 210 Railroad Ave.;530/795-4503.

SIP

Berryessa Gap Vineyards In the tasting room, owner DanMartinez chats about pours of estate-grown local wines. INFO: 4-8Fri-Sat and by appointment; 15 Main St.; www.berryessagap.com;530/795-3201. Second location at 27260 State 128.


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