And Jack London State Historic Park
Glen Ellen hasn’t changed a whole lot since Jack London lived in the area, but that doesn’t mean it’s provincial or boring! Just wait ‘till you see what this little town has to offer!
Once we've explored Glen Ellen, we'll continue on up London Ranch Road, past the Benziger Winery, and into Jack London SHP for history, hiking, and the House of Happy Walls.
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From Sonoma Plaza to
Glen Ellen and Jack London
When you’re ready to leave Sonoma Plaza and the wineries of the Valley behind, you have a choice of routes:
You might even elect to stay at one of the spas and start your exploration from here instead of from Sonoma.
Soon you’ll find yourself driving through Sonoma County’s peaceful countryside, enjoying the weather, the fields of grapevines with the occasional winery chateau nestled in the middle, and the open countryside.
Watch your road signs though, as you’ll need to cut over on Madrone Road to catch Arnold Drive, which will take you on into Glen Ellen (see option 2 below).
Enjoy the views as you skirt Sonoma Valley Regional Park (worthy of a visit in and of itself), then plan a stop at historic Jack London Village (the grist mill, winery, and distillery buildings date back to the mid-19th century and are some of the oldest in Sonoma County) where you’ll find Wine Country Chocolates, Grist Mill Restaurant, Raymond & Co. Cheesemonger, Olive & Vine Restaurant, and many other unique shops and restaurants nestled in a rural setting between the road and Sonoma Creek.
Discover Glen Ellen
try the Gaige House Inn!
Whichever route you choose, continue north to the little village of Glen Ellen, but don’t drive on into town too quickly – you absolutely have to stop at the Glen Ellen Village Market first, for oh so many reasons!
First of all, you’re going to need supplies for your picnic lunch! There’s no more perfect place to pick up lunch than this market!
But even if you’ve already eaten, or you packed your lunch before leaving Sonoma, Glen Ellen Village Market is a must-see!
Inside what looks like a typical village market (although it might seem a bit larger than most - because it is!), you’ll find the most amazing display of hot, ready-to-eat entrees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; handmade deli sandwiches; a 30-foot salad bar for creating your own masterpiece or choosing from 20 homemade prepared salads; over 500 varieties of cheeses and almost as many types of olives; a bakery; gifts and flowers; produce; meats; seafood; and wines.
After browsing the market to your heart’s content, take some time to stroll around Glen Ellen and enjoy the little shops, the Gaige House Inn (with its granite soaking tubs), the Saloon at Jack London Lodge, the Wolf House Restaurant (I see a theme developing here!), Garden Court Café and Bakery. You’ll find surprisingly up-scale services (both for lodging and for dining) in this bucolic setting with Sonoma Creek running through!
If you’re in the mood for some more wineries, there are several in Glen Ellen, including Benziger, Arrowood, B.R. Cohn, Valley of the Moon, Imagery Estates, and Wellington. And if you know someone who knows someone, there are private boutique wineries like Glen Lyon that you might be able to tour by appointment!
Discover Jack London State Historic Park
Photo by Wolf Rosenberg
Next stop, Jack London State Historic Park – worthy of a visit even
if Jack London hadn’t lived, loved, and worked here!
"The grapes on a score of rolling hills are red with autumn flame.
"Across Sonoma Mountain wisps of sea fog are stealing. The afternoon sun smoulders in the drowsy sky.
"I have everything to make me glad I am alive. I am filled with dreams and mysteries.
"I am all sun and air and sparkle. I am vitalized, organic." ~ Jack London
Anyone who visits Jack London's Beauty Ranch has to share the great writer's enthusiasm for the shaded trails, rolling hills, forests, and meadows - the park's beautiful grounds are ideal for hiking, horseback riding, and picnics.
Spend time exploring the House of Happy Walls, a small home built by London’s wife Charmian, which is now a museum and memorial to her beloved husband and his work.
Photo by Suzi Rosenberg
Pay your respects at Jack and Charmian London’s gravesites.
Walk the ruins of Jack London’s dream home, Wolf House, which – sadly – burned to the bare walls before he was ever able to live in it.
Explore the orchards, gardens, and buildings that remain to remind us of London’s Beauty Ranch, where the great man farmed, ranched, and kept his prized horses, and where he wrote most of his later novels and stories.
You will be delighted to find yourself roaming the gentle hills through mixed forests of oaks, madrones, buckeye, Douglas fir, Coastal Redwoods, ferns, manzanita, and fields of Indian warrior, hound’s tongue, buttercups, poppies, and a dozen other wildflowers.
Take your time to enjoy the park to its fullest before heading back toward civilization – imagine what life must have been like for Jack and Charmian London, living and working in this beautiful, but isolated setting, dreaming their dreams and bringing them to life – it’s the perfect end to a perfect day!
For more Sonoma County Day Trips, see the picture links in the right-hand column.
For day trips around other parts of Northern California, check out the links below:
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