A Day Out in Glen Ellen

Photo courtesy of Glen Ellen Star

Glen Ellen is probably best known as the home of famed Call of the Wild author Jack London, but the small town (population 734) is big on winemaking, delicious food and the very beautiful and very popular Jack London State Park. Fun fact: the Sonoma Valley town is named after Ellen Stuart, the wife of early settler Charles V. Stuart, who moved to the area around 1869. There is so much to love about Glen Ellen and not least of all the abundance of charming boutique hotels, which might come in handy if you choose to attend Transcendence Theatre Company’s 10th anniversary season of Broadway Under the Stars this year (running June 4 through September 19, tickets range from $40 to $129). At its heart, though, Glen Ellen is a winemaking town, so definitely make time to stop in for a leisurely tasting — you won’t be sorry. 

Benziger Family Winery
It’s hard not to love this biodynamic farm with its top-notch wines, sustainable farming practices (keep an eye out for the resident sheep) and family-run ethos. Easily one of the prettiest vineyards in Sonoma — it gets busy on the weekends, so book early. 

Gaige House + Ryokan
If boutique luxury is what you are looking for, then look no further. The flawlessly appointed rooms have a distinct Asian flair, which adds to the Zen atmosphere. There is also an on-site spa, an included signature breakfast (delivered to your room daily) and a thoughtfully prepared afternoon wine and cheese picnic. Weekend getaway anyone?

Glen Ellen Star
According to the Michelin Guide, “The menu leans Italian, and chef Ari Weiswasser ensures that every plate packs a serious punch” — and we couldn’t agree more. The rustic charm and wood-fire oven showcase Weiswasser’s culinary chops. See for yourself by booking a seat at the chef’s counter. 

Glen Ellen Village Market
Located in the heart of the village, this delightful little supermarket has everything you could ever want for a Wine Country picnic. Grab one of the hot sandwiches from the walk-up deli counter and enjoy lunch outside at the covered tables situated among the trees. 

Imagery Estate Winery
14335 HIGHWAY 12
Bold winemaking meets art at this winery. Each label bears a work by an artist that reflects the year and unique varietal. Enjoy a tasting in the bucolic garden, but don’t miss the Imagery Gallery, where you can see the full-size art pieces that grace the labels. 

Jack London Lodge and Saloon
This Glen Ellen institution is a glimpse back to what the charming town was like at the turn of the 20th century. The inn offers quaint, affordable rooms and a swimming pool for guests to cool off after a day of taking in the sights. Rumor has it that the saloon has the best burger in town — pair that with the creek-side setting and unpretentious air, and you just can’t go wrong. 

Jack London State Park
As you drive through the gated entry into Jack London Park you immediately understand why the author chose to call this part of California home. Visitors will enjoy tons of hiking trails and picnic areas and exploring the remains of what was once the writer’s 130-acre estate, and so much more. 

Les Pascals Patisserie et Boulangerie
This classically French bakery offers a little taste of Provence in Sonoma. The owners — who are indeed French — do everything from the baking to running the register, and if the queue outside is any indication, both locals and tourists love this little spot. 

The Fig Cafe
This cafe (sister to Sonoma Plaza’s the fig & the girl) has been a Sonoma staple for the past 20 years and with one bite it’s easy to see why. The eatery offers a California twist on classic comfort food and a dessert menu that should not be overlooked.

Benziger Family Winery view of water and hills
Photo courtesy of Benziger Family Winery