One of Sonoma County's true treasures is Glen Ellen. Whether for a simple day trip or a weekend getaway, the sometimes overlooked town of just under 800 is filled with an assortment of hidden gems. From breathtaking natural beauty to a knockout culinary scene, this little town with a big heart is just waiting to surprise you.
Fuel up for your day at Les Pascals. If the cute yellow exterior doesn't lure you in, the smells of freshly baked bread and French pastries will. Order a chocolate croissant and a latte to start your day on a delicious note. Next up, be swept away by Quarryhill Botanical Garden, which Valley of the Moon Magazine calls Sonoma's "best-kept world-famous secret." The garden boasts of the largest collection of Asian plants in the west, featuring wild-sourced plants from China, Thailand, Korea, India and more. A robust assemblage of roses, lilies, maples and magnolias fill the park with the feeling of the far east. As you ascend to the top of the park you are presented with astounding views of the Sonoma Valley. After wrapping your morning in the garden, head over and grab your picnic essentials at Glen Ellen Village Market & Deli. Known for outstanding lunch options, particularly their sandwiches, the market is also stocked with fresh produce, local wines, craft beers and most any last minute knick-knacks you may have forgotten for your weekend getaway.
Pack up your picnic and make way to Jack London State Historic Park where you can tread in the footsteps of the great American author and adventurer. The historic ranch features London's grave-site, the fire-destroyed ruins of his dream home, "Wolf House," various historic ranch structures and extends to over 20 miles of hiking country through redwood forests, beautiful meadows and more. The trails are perfect for the light hiker or enthusiast alike, and an invigorating setting to both tune into nature and work up your thirst. As you head back to town, drop in at Talisman Tasting Room for a Pinot Noir experience. Living up to their motto of "all Pinot all the time," the tasting room has a uniquely intimate and low-key feel as you experience a broad selection of authentic, quality Pinots.
By now you should have worked up a good appetite to drop in the fig café & wine bar for dinner. Opening at 5pm nightly, with no reservations, guests enjoy no corkage and a laid back, comfortable "Country French" ambiance as you enjoy the " Rhône Alone" wine menu. The food: country French home cooking, consisting of pizzas, salads, burgers and more. A local favorite is the Pot Roast, dubbed "comfort food in a bowl." The wine: as the motto says, " Rhône alone." The café features an extensive list of Rhône varietals and a handful of house concoctions. A favorite: "The Fig Royale" comprised of sparkling wine and fig aperitif. Wrap up your dinner with the Molasses-Ginger Cake dessert and by now you're ready to hit the pillow.
There are a handful of lovely boutique hotels in Glen Ellen. A stone's throw from the café, just up Warm Springs Road, you will find Olea Hotel. Originally built in the early 1900's, the newly renovated hotel features thirteen modern rooms and 2 garden cottages. The property hosts a pool, hot tub, fire pit, heated floors and, guest favorite, an exemplary complimentary gourmet breakfast and is a superb setting to lay one's head on their Sonoma retreat.
In the heart of wine country, Glen Ellen is packed with relaxing and tantalizing offerings and options and is the perfect way to rest, reset and inspire the senses.