Sebastopol is a small liberal, primarily agrarian community focused city in wine country (Sonoma county) tucked in between Santa Rosa and Bodega Bay. A tiny city packed with great places to eat, lots of wine tasting locations (being in the heart of wine country has its advantages) and simply being a great retreat form the hustle bustle of Sonoma and Napa, Sebastopolthus became our destination of choice for the labor day weekend to visit with Babu, our dog. Highly recommended as either a detour en-route to the more well known cousin Sonoma or for exploration on its own (for a day or two), here is a step by step guide to the best places to eat, drink, let your hair down and have fun in Sebastopol with even more beautiful people. Best of all, these activities are 100% dog friendly!
WHERE TO STAY?
Being only 1.5-2 hrs away by car, it was natural that we would take Babu with us on the trip to Sebastopol.The caveat to it, as it always is, that we started looking pretty late for lodging and as luck would have had it all pet friendly hotels were booked. Thankfully we found a great Airbnb (link here) who not only accepted pets but were available (yay!) and were the most gracious hosts ever! Nancy and Tom (the hosts) are pet parents themselves (doggie Elsa, two cats and several pigeons) and they had set up an excellent place for us and Babu. It was a section of the house completely separated from their main residence and was surrounded by acres of lush green garden with a patio and a fireplace (we city folks were so J seeing so much space around). The unit also has a kitchen, microwave and mini fridge (in case you want to cook) and a grill outside. We were very happy with the arrangements and Babu had a ball sniffing and exploring the garden.
WHERE TO EAT?
We were famished upon arrival (around 12 noon or so) and immediately went up to a “Slice of Life”, a renowned vegetarian cafe with plenty of vegan choices in Sebastopol. The food was really good (my favorite tofu scramble was on the menu) but what was life altering was the chai-coconut ice-cream float! It was heavenly to say the least and I am still drooling in it memory. Root beer floats cannot shine a candle to this exquisite glass of yumminess! Be sure to grab some if you ever visit Sebastopol. Next day, we had breakfast at A Hole in the Wall, another popular spot in Sebastopol based on Yelp reviews,but really were not too excited about the food. It was too heavy for breakfast with all its egg and cheese (there were some vegetarian choices but its definitely a no-no for my vegan cyber-friends).Lunch in Sebastopol was at a charming Mediterranean restaurant named East West Mediterranean cafe with plenty of vegetarian/vegan options . Although there was outdoor seating, dogs were not allowed on the patio for some reason. Thankfully, they had an equally well shaded spot where we kept babu with plenty of water and chose the table nearest to it. The food and service were impeccable and I had my best thirst quenching homemade lemonade to date there! Dinner was at the Hopmonk Tavern, a great place in Sebastopol to get a bite in a beautiful beer garden with live music (dogs allowed in the garden). The food was eclectic American with some India inspired fares such as Hopmonk samosa (more like cross between tempura and wonton) and chicken philly on Naan bread (we had both plus a salad). Then we called it a night. The next day, we had a late breakfast at Viva Mexicana, the friendliest restaurant possible on earth with the best vegan coconut Horchata and Mexican tofu scramble. Plus we had a great secluded dog-friendly outdoor spot to us. Highly recommend this place for vegans and dog owners if you are visiting Sebastopol.
WHERE TO GO?
Who knew Sebastopol would be sweltering hot over labor day weekend but it seems that the entire bay area, including San Francisco, is in the grip of a heat wave. We were so drained off after the drive, the great food and the cool, shaded room (being at an angle, the unit did not heat up at all), that we flopped on the bed and napped the afternoon away. In the evening, when the suns rays appeared more merciful, we took Babu out on a walk (in the yard) and then headed off to the newly opened Barlow (website here) which is an open space utilizing a repurposed apple tannery, for arts, music, restaurants and other stores in Sebastopol. A very nifty, albeit pricy place to hang out we got some juice, a pie (very expensive again) and then I indulged in some wine tasting since there were so many of them around. Plus, how can you not when you are in wine country?
There are several wine tasting rooms in that single street of the Barlow, but we chose the Macshail Tasting Lounge with proper outdoor seating where people seemed to be having a really good time and the servers seemed pretty attentive. S is a teetotaler but I love me some good reds and this tasting room specializes in just that! Our server, a young guy, was extremely knowledgeable and I had a great time learning about the 6 different Pinot Noirs that I tasted (including a very strong Rosé that knocked me off a bit). The tasting was$ 20 for five but he was generous to let me taste a 6th one since I professed my love for Oregon Pinots! “twas a great evening with the golden light of the dusk, my favorite kind of red and great company 🙂 Babu was especially patient through his Mom’s shenanigans with the grapes.
As night fell, the temperatures dropped down rapidly too. We took Babu out for one last stroll, got some Nepalese food from Himalayan Tandoori and Curry house and called it a day. Next day,we decided to shake things up a bit by going on a hike. Sebastopol’s most famous hiking trails are perhaps the West County and Joe Rodota trails (dog friendly, need to be on leash) which criss cross and meet the now abandoned Santa Rosa railroad further up. We arrived at the trail-head and were really disappointed to see a paved road meant for bicyclists (my notion was circling more around a romantic scenario of rail tracks and dirt road) and so decided to just drive three miles up the Historic rail road square in Santa Rosa. That was the best decision ever made since the mercury was soaring with a whooping 95 F!
The historic railroad square at Santa Rosa was charming to say the least. The Minnesotan in me leapt with joy when I saw several statues of the popular comics strip Peanuts erected everywhere and soon found out that this was a tribute from the city of Santa Rosa to its creator Charlie Schulz. There were quite a few charming stores (thrift, antique and gift stores) in that block along with the Santa Rosa tourist information center, a small park, art galleries and some restaurants.
The kind lady at the tourism office suggested we take Babu to the Howard regional park, a short driving distance away which has shady trails and a lake. We arrived there only to find a giant picnic area completely occupied by lots of families and major geese feeding at the lake. Lots of people? Not our scene. Scary looking geese? Not Babu’s scene. So a quick walk and we left ASAP for lunch. Post lunch,we drove to Rangle Ranch Regional park, which is pet friendly and has an off leash area for non-aggresive dogs to play. Although there is a parking fee since it is a county park, we parked on the adjacent street and that turned out free and fine! We arrived at the park around 6 PM (park is open till sundown) and loved the peace and quiet. We discovered a beautiful trail, hiked quite a bit and then started our return, only to stop and take in the beauty of the woods in the golden light of the dusk, not to mention a quick photo-shoot at a bench with a plaque saying “dogs are not our whole life but make our lives whole”. Sigh! dog lovers are the best! Finally, on our last day, we checked out by noon, stopped at downtown Sebastopol (one street called Main street really), did some quick shopping and bid adieu to the beautiful city which had been our most gracious host for the last three days.
This brings me to the end of this post.Hope you enjoyed reading it and got some good ideas on where to take your pet next! Read about our other pet friendly trips to Santa Cruz, Mendocino, Redwood coast and Calistoga here, here, here and here.