15 Best Things to Do in Glen Ellen, CA

Glen Ellen, CA
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A laid-back and pleasantly inviting village in Sonoma Valley, Glen Ellen is your ideal place for a relaxing countryside escape.

This census-designated place in Sonoma County, California, has less than a thousand recorded population in the 2000 US census.

Nevertheless, it is home to many boutique hotels, gourmet restaurants, beautiful vineyards, world-class wineries, and scenic hiking trails.

The village was established when Charles V. Stuart acquired part of the land area in 1859 and built a thousand-acre vineyard named after his wife Glen Ellen.

Famous author Jack London lived in Glen Ellen, where he also built the Beauty Ranch and the Wolf House mansion; several of his novels mentioned the village and Sonoma County.

Want to discover more of what this charming village offers?

See the best things to do in Glen Ellen, California!

Visit the Renowned Writer’s Home at Jack London State Historic Park

Scenic view of Jack London State Historic Park
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Jack London State Historic Park on London Ranch Road is where the famous legendary writer lived and spent his last days until his passing in 1916.

The 39-acre park was formerly known as London’s Beauty Ranch.

Tour the House of Happy Walls Museum, a Spanish-style arts and crafts house built by Charmian London and Eliza Shepard; the exhibits here showcase the lives of the Londons.

Catch the Piano Club volunteers playing soothing music on the grand piano during the weekends.

Scenic view of Jack London State Historic Park
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Visit Jack London’s gravesite and walk past the Wolf House Ruins, then head to the author’s Cottage and enter his creative world.

You can drop by the Beauty Ranch, where London settled, and view the Lake at Kohler Creek’s headspring.

Stroll or hike along the area and enjoy the landscape, spot some birds, take snapshots, and get inspired by nature.

Jack London State Historic Park also has picnic areas with barbecue grills and tables near the parking lot, at the nearby Wolf House Ruins and Cottage, on the knolls, and the Oak Grove overlooking the stallion barn and vineyard.

Scenic view of Jack London State Historic Park
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See the Native Plant Varieties at Sonoma Botanical Garden

Sonoma Botanical Garden is a unique garden attraction on Highway 12.

The garden features an array of California and Asian native plant varieties you would be surprised to find in this California area.

Founded in 1981, its mission aims to promote public appreciation of these plant species and encourage habitat conservation.

See the largest collection of wild-sourced Asian flora, like Asian dogwoods, rhododendrons, maples, oaks, roses, magnolias, and lilies.

Find rare plants from Japan, China, and the Himalayas, like the Acer pentaphyllum and Cornus capitata.

You’ll learn about each plant through identifiers that include the plant’s species name and information.

Tour the botanical exhibitions, hike to view the scenic valleys, or find a nice picnic spot while enjoying the surrounding nature.

Enjoy the floral colors at Sonoma Botanical Garden.

Have a Fantastic Stay at the Gaige House

For a unique stay at Glen Ellen, you can book accommodations at the Gaige House.

You’ll love the hotel’s vintage and contemporary Asian touch with your choice of Garden Suite or a Ryokan Zen Creekside.

Have a relaxing stay with amenities you can enjoy, like the outdoor pool, hot tubs, and outdoor spaces accented with a yoga area, calming fountains, and tranquil Zen rock gardens.

You’ll be served a delicious breakfast, wine, and cheese in the afternoons for a tasty pick-me-up.

Lounge at the cozy seats on the Moon Deck with a glass of wine and the sounds of the Calabazas Creek nearby, or stay at the Sun Deck for some time to unwind.

You can also meditate and do yoga at the Meditation Alcove.

The Gaige House is easily accessible on Arnold Drive.

Hike the Trails at Sonoma Valley Regional Park

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Sonoma Valley Regional Park lies at the heart of Sonoma Valley on Highway 12.

You’ll enjoy the outdoor landscape while having a picnic and barbeque under the shades of large oak trees.

During spring, the park becomes bright with colorful lupine, poppies, and wildflowers.

Trek the oak woodlands and follow the miles of trails or go for something more adventurous by hiking unpaved trails connected to hillsides and ridges.

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The Valley of the Moon is the park’s main trail which goes through the oak woodlands offering stunning views of the valleys.

For another view of the Sonoma Valley, you can hike on the Woodland Star Trail, a 1.15-mile path climbing from the Valley of the Moon Trail heading to the park’s south border on a wooded hillside area.

You can also take the 1.5-mile Cougar Trail in the park’s northern area for a glimpse of the Sonoma Valley and Mayacamas Range.

Sonoma Valley Regional Park also has accessible amenities like picnic areas and portable restrooms for park visitors.

Shop for Delis and More at Glen Ellen Village Market

You’ll find just about every grocery item you need at Glen Ellen Village Market.

The shop on Arnold Drive offers premium-quality items and is known for its excellent customer service.

Visit the deli and food bar to find assorted foods like salads, sandwiches, baked goods, rotisserie chicken, pastries, coffee, and espresso.

Try their Gourmet Panini Sandwich Menu or order different varieties of Party Trays.

Whether you want a quick breakfast to go, lunch to take out for a picnic, or preparing for a gourmet dinner, the market has a great selection of quality meats, farm-fresh produce, excellent wines, and a wide range of home and health items you need.

Glen Ellen Village Market is your stop for superb goods at the best price.

Enjoy a Sumptuous Dinner at Glen Ellen Star

For an exceptional fine dining experience on Arnold Drive, you can have a sumptuous dinner at Glen Ellen Star.

This culinary spot was established in 2012 and has garnered a reputation for a unique, refined dining experience for food lovers.

It’s run by Chef Ari Weiswasser with his wife Erinn Benziger-Weiswasser and has received a Michelin recommendation.

The restaurant creates California-inspired dishes and brings out the flavors of special recipes through wood-fired cooking.

You’ll enjoy delectable wood-roasted vegetables, appetizing traditional pizzas, and starters.

Feast on the main course with wood-fired whole fish or brick chicken served with generous vegetables and sides.

End your dinner with luscious desserts or homemade ice cream and sorbet.

You can also choose from Glen Ellen Star’s wide selection of wines and beer to pair with your meals.

Catch Broadway Shows by Transcendence Theatre Company

Transcendence Theatre Company features entertaining award-winning Broadway-inspired shows at Jack London State Historic Park.

The group has been staging live premiere shows for over a decade, with new shows each season.

You’ll catch talented performers in their renditions of classic musicals like Hamilton, Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables, and much more.

You’ll enjoy a pre-show picnic with pours of Sonoma wines and local food servings while listening to live serenades by musicians.

As the evening sets in, you’ll have a wonderful one-of-a-kind stage experience with the majestic ruins and star-lit skies in the background.

Enjoy the evening with performances by the Transcendence Theatre Company.

Get Fresh Produce at Oak Hill Farm

Vegetables in Oak Hill Farm
SarahStierch, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Oak Hill Farm is a 700-acre ranch on Sonoma Highway.

It was started in the 1970s by Otto and Anne Teller, who were land conservationists passionate about organic agriculture and environmental sustainability.

The farm has grown over 200 vegetables, fruit, flowers, greenery, and herb varieties for many years.

The farm houses the Red Barn Store, providing freshly harvested produce and other products like seasonal heirlooms, handmade art, artisanal goods, and unique gifts.

They welcome visitors from April to December and hosts farm tours on Saturdays.

You can purchase vegetables like leafy greens, cabbages, tomatoes, flowers including zinnias, sunflowers, amaranths, and fruit crops like Mara des Bois strawberries, peaches, and pears.

Drop by Oak Hill Farm in October and join fall events like Pumpkin Day, and get gourds, wreaths, fall flowers, and fall decorations.

Sip Great Wine Flavors at Benziger Family Winery

Benziger Family Winery on London Ranch Road is a one-of-a-kind winery in Sonoma’s Wine Country area.

The family winery maintains its vineyards with a Biodynamic farming method that’s both organic and sustainable.

The result is a line of award-winning wines you can enjoy for seated tastings and tours.

Taste their excellent collection of Reds like Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Merlot, or savor their Whites which include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé.

Try their bestsellers like the 2018 Tribute, 2021 North Coast Rosé, or the 2018 Oonapais.

You can also purchase bottles of distinct award-winning wines like the 2019 Estate Malbec, the 2018 Sunny Slope Cabernet Sauvignon, or the 2020 West Rows Chardonnay.

The Biodynamic Tram Tour will take you to see the animals like sheep, Scottish Highlander cattle, bird species, and the insectary with rows of vegetable crops, fruit trees, and herbs like Valerian and Chamomile.

Benziger Family Winery also produces Biodynamic Olive Oil sourced from their olive trees.

Explore the Scenic Outdoors at Bouverie Preserve

Bouverie Preserve is a stretch of over 500 acres of diverse ecosystems on Sonoma Highway.

The preserve lies within the ancestral territories of the Wappo, Coast Miwok, and Southern Pomo communities and is now owned by the Audubon Canyon Ranch.

It was named after David Bouverie, an English architect and renowned host who migrated to Sonoma Valley.

You can explore Bouverie Preserve on a guided nature walk or a twilight hike.

Your friends and family can trek the vast oak and riparian woodlands, walk through the lush forests, and trail the chaparral and grassland areas.

You’ll also get to spot over a hundred bird species, flowering plants, and animals like mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes in the area.

Have a Wine and Art Experience at Imagery Estate Winery

For a combined experience of admirable art pieces and savory wine flavors, Imagery Estate Winery sets the mood for you.

You can visit the winery estate on Sonoma Highway 12.

Award-winning wine connoisseur Jaime Benziger shares her expertise in crafting rare wines to share with wine enthusiasts.

Visit for a wine-tasting session at the Tasting Room from Thursday to Monday.

You can also go for the Estate Seated Tasting with choices of five wines to try or have a view of the vineyard at the outdoor picnic tables.

For a romantic dinner by the fireplace, you can book a Winter Estate Seated Tasting.

While enjoying your glass of wine, you can admire over 60 unique artworks by recognized contemporary artists like Sol LeWitt, Shoichi Ida, Terry Winters, and many more at the onsite gallery.

Imagery Estate Winery also serves scrumptious meals paired with their signature wines.

Indulge in Sweet Treats at Wine Country Chocolates

If you’re a certified chocoholic, make a stop at Wine Country Chocolates on Arnold Drive.

You’ll find the mother and daughter chocolatiers Betty and Caroline Kelly and their lines of chocolate confections at the shop.

They founded the business in 1999 and opened their first retail store with a Chocolate Tasting Room in 2006.

You can enter the tasting bar and watch the chocolate kitchen through a picture window.

Their delicious Chocolate Truffles selection is a must-try, or grab some of their Fruit and Nuts varieties like the Candied Orange Peel Bar, Caramel Rocky Road, or Dark Chocolate Apricots.

Take home some Chocolate Barks or give some unique gifts like the Dark Chocolate Grape Cluster, Dark Chocolate Nonpareils, and Honey Roasted Peanut Clusters.

Wine Country Chocolates will surely satisfy any chocolate lover’s sweet cravings.

Enjoy Horseback Riding with Triple Creek Horse Outfit

Have a memorable sightseeing experience with Triple Creek Horse Outfit.

The company has provided horseback tours in Sonoma County for over 19 years.

Enjoy a horseback ride along the riding trails, passing through scenic vineyards, vast oak woodlands, and shady groves with towering redwoods at Jack London State Historic Park.

The tours at Triple Creek Horse Outfit last for an hour to an hour and a half, so you’ll have plenty of sites to enjoy.

The best option to take the tour is during the fall season, when you can take advantage of foggy mornings and warm afternoon settings.

You’ll also have a complimentary wine tasting at VJB Cellars at Kenwood and try their artisan cheeses and wood-fired pizzas at La Cucina.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Appreciate the Arts at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

View of Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
Missvain, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is on Broadway, Sonoma, just 15 minutes from Glen Ellen.

The museum features various modern and contemporary art exhibits by regional, national and international artists.

The institution also addresses racial, cultural, social, and economic inequity themes.

You can view featured exhibitions from Photographs to Student Projects, catch scheduled public programs and sign up for art workshops.

Drop by the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art Museum Store and purchase art books, educational toys, jewelry, and gift items to support the museum.

See the Heavenly Bodies at the Robert Ferguson Observatory

Interested to know more about planets and astronomy?

Then a visit to the Robert Ferguson Observatory will be worth the trip.

The observatory is located in Kenwood, just 15 minutes from the Glen Ellen area.

Take your family on a 4.5-mile PlanetWalk, a solar system scale model designed within Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and pass the nine trail stops representing the nine planets.

Get to see and peak through the giant 40” Reflector Telescope, the Refractor Telescope housed at the white dome, and the 20” Robotic Telescope.

You’ll also get to see the 80mm Lunt refractor Solar Telescope called the Sun Spotter and the RadioTelescope, which records the Sun’s activities.

Head to the retail counter and check exclusive items and cool merchandise like shirts, safe solar glasses, binoculars, stickers, toys, and more.

Attend Star Parties with classes and viewing opportunities or go for Solar Observing during the daytime.

The Robert Ferguson Observatory also offers Night Sky Lectures and monthly Trip Around the Sun events.

Final Thoughts

The census-designated Glen Ellen in Sonoma Valley’s Wine Country hosts plenty of unique experiences that any tourist would enjoy.

The village teems with beautiful wineries, top-notch restaurants, and nature spots.

For a relaxing getaway, plan a trip to this impressive village.

You’ll surely have a pleasant stay and enjoy the best things to do in Glen Ellen, California.

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