Located just south of the Russian River, the village of Occidental has a charm all its own that’s well worth a visit. Surrounded by redwoods, soft hills, orchards, and wineries, Occidental offers spectacular opportunities for a relaxing vacation or quick getaway if you’re looking to be immersed in nature or stay in a central location to explore Sonoma County.
The Bohemian village was founded back in 1876 with the establishment of a train stop for the North Pacific Coast Railroad bringing vacationers from San Francisco and the expansion of the timber industry. It’s no wonder the village is known as a hub for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts due to its central location and access to redwood forests and nature areas including the Armstrong Redwood State Natural Reserve, Willow Creek State Park, Bodega Head and The Grove of the Old Trees, with trails that connect directly to the ocean about 10 miles away.
The Inn at Occidental, a quaint Victorian-style bed and breakfast featuring folk art, family heirlooms, antiques and other original artwork in each room, offers visitors a place to relax and feel at home. Enjoy sipping a local wine in the courtyard garden or read your favorite book on a comfy chair on the wrap-around porch overlooking the redwoods.
After a long day of hiking or sight-seeing, make your way over to the Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary for their signature Cedar Enzyme Bath from Japan, get a massage, a relaxing spa service, or take a leisurely stroll in the breathtaking Zen Japanese Gardens.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, check out Sonoma Canopy Tours for zip lining or rappelling. They offer a “Tree Tops Tour,” where you zip along the treetops of the redwoods, the “Forest Flight Tour,” where you control your own speed, and a “Night Flight Tour,” where you can experience the thrill of zip line during sunset or at night.
In addition, The Occidental Center for the Arts offers high-quality arts with cultural events, exhibitions, and arts education and has a newly remodeled performing venue. The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, an 80-acre research, education, and advocacy center, is a world-renowned center for regenerative agriculture.
For good eats, Hazel Restaurant, has exceptionally-prepared Mediterranean-style cuisine, delectable pastries, sweets, cookies, and cakes to die for. The owners, Jim & Michele Wimborough, are veteran chefs cooking for restaurants in the Bay area including Zut! On Fourth, Grand Café, and Boulevard, for more than 15 years.
Finally, Howard Station Café, is always lively and hopping with local patrons as well as visitors. The café serves healthy, organic food and is a hot spot for breakfast and weekend brunch.
Opening in June this year, Occidental’s farmer’s market is a great way to experience this friendly town – with fresh produce, local cheeses and baked goods, music, artisan crafts, paella, and Indian food.
Visit this vibrant, lively and historic spot that’s full of life and the perfect place to stay while exploring beautiful Sonoma County. For more inspiration, check out articles written about Occidental at Sonoma County Tourism, USA Today and Fodor’s.
*All photos are courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism