Quietly nestled in western Sonoma County, you’ll find the charming town of Occidental, a small community with a big heart. Founded in 1876 as the last stop on the North Pacific Coast Railroad, Occidental offers visitors a welcome escape from a busy lifestyle. But don’t let the size of Occidental fool you; this community boasts galleries, gift shops and popular dining establishments as well as a variety of cultural and entertainment venues the whole family will enjoy.
10-12pm – Brunch and a little shop.
Grab a bite to eat at Howard Station Cafe (try the Corned Beef Hash or Smoked Salmon Omelette Florentine) and pursue the galleries (Laurence Glass Works is a must see) and shopping venues like Hand Goods, a small outlet of local artisan goods.
1-5pm – Explore the surrounding area.
Explore the natural beauty of the Western Hill Gardens, which is open on Saturdays and by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The landmark garden has been renovated by the new owners and boasts major collections including: Australians, Camellias, Conifers, Dogwoods, endangered Chinese Maples, Hydrangeas, and Rhododendrons. They also have a downloadable visitors guide here.
For the adventure seekers, head to Sonoma Canopy Tours and immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of the world famous California Coastal Redwoods. They offer two unique courses, each a two-and-a-half hour Guided eco tour, that include multiple zip lines, sky bridges, a majestic spiral staircase and a rappel to the forest floor.
The Occidental Center for the Arts provides diverse, high-quality arts and cultural events in western Sonoma County and the communities beyond. Housed in a newly remodeled performing venue with superb acoustics and an adjacent exhibition gallery, the OCA works to enrich the lives of local residents through diverse cultural performances, exhibitions, events and arts education that inspire, teach, and entertain.
Insider Tip: If you plan your trip on a Friday from June through October, you’ll definitely want to take in the Occidental Bohemian Farmers Market (open 4 pm until dusk) with its bounty of organic produce and fabulous food to savor on the spot or take back home.
5 – 7pm Mangia!
By this time, you have surely worked up an appetite exploring all that Occidental has to offer. Don’t worry as the downtown offers a variety of dining options. Founded as a railroad saloon and boarding house in 1879, the Union Hotel and Restaurant is now a vibrant Italian cafe, bakery and pizzeria (the breadsticks and minestrone soup are incredible) Try the Chicken Parmesan. Occidental’s famous Negri’s Original Italian Restaurant has been serving Italian classics since 1943. Not feeling like Italian food? Mexican, French, and American cuisines can also found. For a hip, healthy dining option try Hazel.
All in all, a wonderful day full of adventure the whole family will enjoy. Happy travels!
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Photo Credit: Sonoma Canopy Tours