Explore San Francisco

Why Sebastopol Is the Perfect Bohemian Small Town

How to spend a day in west Sonoma’s artistic enclave

Just about an hour north of San Francisco by car, the under-the-radar town of Sebastopol in western Sonoma County makes a compelling day trip. The community-minded town has great food, wine and art, all three of which can be enjoyed in a former apple processing plant turned giant maker hub in the middle of town.

Handline in Sebastopol
Handline, serving fast-casual coastal fare (©Jeremy Jachy)

The Best Restaurants in Sebastopol

Founded by Sebastopol native Lowell Sheldon, Handline is a locavore’s paradise, with a menu that include sustainably-sourced beer battered fish tacos stuffed inside freshly milled corn tortillas, and locally harvested mushrooms in green garlic butter, fresh corn and summer squash blossom salad.

Local farmers and ranchers are also on display at Ramen Gaijin, where house-pulled noodles in a brothy soup serve as a great starter. But the black sesame ice cream is what really makes it worth the visit. To keep it more casual, Hole in the Wall serves California comfort food, including a villager’s style soup with slices of golden and red beets, cabbage and potatoes topped with Angus short rib and sour cream, along with a selection of savory and sweet crepes.

Tacos from Handline restaurant in Sebastpol, California
Tacos at Handline (©Jeremy Jachy)

The Best Places to Drink

With a bespoke line of organic ciders sources from apple orchards around the area, Horse & Plow offers a sweet alternative to wine. Served up in a polished tasting room outfitted with two glass bottle chandeliers and a wood-burl bar, cider (and wine) flights freely flow on tap. For more traditional Pinots that are characteristic of the region, Freeman Winery offers balanced, elegant cool climate wines, by one of the few female Japanese winemakers, Akiko Freeman.

 Freeman Winery in Sebastopol
Wine cave at Freeman Winery, producer of coastal Pinots (Courtesy Freeman Winery)

Where to Shop

For gift ideas to take back home, it doesn’t get sweeter than Beekind, a honey store owned by a beekeeping husband-and-wife team that sells food treats, candles, body care and medicinal products of all kinds.  

Gravenstein Apples
Gravenstein Caramel apples (©Michelle Feilieacan/Sonoma County Farm Trails)

The Best Things to Do in Sebastopol

The Barlow, where a collection of creative eateries, breweries, wineries and artisans coexist, is partially responsible for securing Sebastopol’s position as the arts and culture hub of western Sonoma County. Every third Thursday, the 12-acre outdoor market district comes to life for an evening of music and local performances.

You can hang with a treat from Sub Zero Ice Cream, keep up your juice cleanse at The Nectary or shop for adorable trinkets at Littlefour. While vineyards have replaced many of Sebastopol’s vast orchards, the Gravenstein Apple Fair continues to celebrate the city’s founding produce. No worries if you miss the festival, Gravenstein Apples are available throughout the summer and fall at the Sunday Sebastopol Farmers’ Market.