One and a half hour north of San Francisco is the little village of Occidental, a perfect base for visiting West Sonoma County.
Getting to Occidental
Take Highway 101 North from San Francisco for approximately 60 miles. Exit on CA-12 W towards Sebastopol. Find the Bohemian Highway, a stretch of road that some believe is the most scenic in Northern California. Occidental sits almost mid-point on the 10 mile road.
Inn at Occidental for Luxury Accommodations
The Inn at Occidental is in an old Victorian on Church Street. You’ll be awed by the beautiful gardens that surround the inn and the wrap around porch. Inside the proprietors, Jerry and Tina Wolsborn do everything they can to make sure that your stay at their luxurious inn is enjoyable. They have a wealth of knowledge about their area and are happy to provide tips and driving directions when needed.
The inn is filled with treasures that the Wolsborns have collected over the years. There is a vast array of folk art and antiques in every room and hallway. Each guest room in the inn has a distinct theme which the decor carries out. It’s tempting to peek in the Marbles Suite, Kitchen Cupboard Room, or the Quilt Room. Each room has a down stuffed King or Queen bed, sitting area, and fireplace. Some rooms have private decks and spa tubs. Each guest room offers a phone, Wi-Fi, Frette towels, and Aveda bath products.
Although it is difficult to leave the guest rooms, you should go to the living room at 5 p.m. where the innkeepers serve local wines and delicious appetizers to their guests. It is a great opportunity to get recommendations on activities that the other guests have enjoyed earlier in the day.
Breakfast is a highlight at the Inn at Occidental. It is served each morning in the Wine Cellar dining room. Start with local fruits, homemade pastries, juice, and coffee, but that is just the beginning. Each morning the chef serves up a beautifully presented hot dish. And be sure to sample the Inn’s own granola.
Bistro des Copains for Delectable Food
A short walk from the Inn at Occidental is the Bistro des Copains (the buddies bistro), a warm and friendly restaurant that serves Provencal food made with fresh local ingredients. Mussels are cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and pastis, and the pan roasted duck breast, a culinary delight, is served
with a green peppercorn sauce. The bistro offers a three course tasting menu that changes daily and on Tuesday there is free corkage on Sonoma County wines.
Russian River Valley Vineyards for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
No trip to this part of Sonoma County would be complete without visiting some of the local wineries. This region, just inland from the Pacific Coast, produces wine influenced by the fog that rolls in each evening from the Pacific, and chills the temperature until it rolls back out the next morning. This provides natural air-conditioning to the vines and a long growing season. The chardonnays and pinot noirs are particularly fine. You can taste these varietals daily at the Dutton Estate Winery/Sebastopol Vineyards in nearby Sebastopol.
Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary for an Unusual Therapy
The Osmosis Day Spa, south of Occidental on the Bohemian Highway, offers massage and facial treatments that stress eco-conscious practices. One therapy, found nowhere else in the United States, is the cedar enzyme bath. This heat treatment is a Japanese rejuvenating therapy involving over 600 active enzymes combined with finely ground evergreens and rice bran. Guests at the spa are buried in this fragrant mixture that provides warmth through fermentation. The soothing warmth relieves aches and pains and boosts metabolism.