An old stone wall in front of a mountain
Jack London State Historic Park

5 Fun Things To Do in Glen Ellen

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In the heart of The Valley of the Moon, the bucolic village of Glen Ellen blends Sonoma County wines, local dining delights, and the valley's many natural beauties.

Wine tasting opportunities abound in Glen Ellen's many tasting rooms and wineries. Lodging is available in The Jack London Lodge with 22 rooms on the tree-lined Sonoma Creek; in the historic and stylish Gaige House + Ryokan; and in boutique hotels, bed and breakfast inns, and vacation rentals throughout the area.

Pick up picnic supplies at the Glen Ellen Village Market, and Oak Hill Farm sells organic produce in its Red Barn Store off Highway 12.  The Glen Ellen Inn Grill & Martini Bar is an American bistro with a French twist, and the Glen Ellen Star provides tastes of both local and international flavors in a neighborly setting.

Here are 5 fun things you can do on your visit to Glen Ellen:

Tour a World-Class Botanical Garden

A bridge crosses the creek surrounded by plants and flowers at Quarryhill Botanical Garden, Sonoma County
Sonoma Botanical Garden

Take a docent-led or self-guided tour of one of North America's largest and most important collections of temperate-climate Asian plants. The 25 acres of Sonoma Botanical Garden display these rare or endangered trees and shrubs, in addition to California native plants, in a setting of waterfalls, ponds, and picturesque views.

More than 90 percent of the collection was grown from seeds collected on yearly expeditions into wild regions of China, Japan, Tibet, India, Nepal, and other locations. The Garden also showcases plants of California, which is home to some of the same genera of East Asia, including maples, roses, rhododendrons, and oaks.

Picnic, BBQ and Swim Around Geothermal Mineral Pools

People swim in the spring-fed pool at Morton's Warm Springs Resort, Sonoma County
Morton's Warm Springs Resort

Nestled into the thick-forested hills along winding Warm Springs Road, Morton's Warm Springs Resort feels far from the everyday world.

Situated on a long-ago seasonal camping ground of the Wappo Indians, Morton's offers visitors two mineral spring pools with depths ranging from 4.5 feet to 9 feet, and a wading pool. The water is clean, clear, and usually hovers between 82-84 degrees.

The pool area is furnished with comfortable chaises, a shower room contains lockers, and lifeguards are on duty. There's also plenty of outdoor recreation, including hiking/biking trails winding up into the hills, a baseball field, volleyball court, and horseshoe pits (bring your own equipment, but volleyball net provided). A kids' playground and video arcade are also on site.

A big lawn near the pools offers lots of picnic seating, so bring a blanket (picnic tables and grills are available, too). There's also a snack bar that dishes up hot dogs, pizza, snow cones, and more. Morton's is open from May through September.

Hike in Jack London's Footsteps

People walk down an oak-lined trail at Jack London State Historic Park, Sonoma County
Jack London State Historic Park

The famed writer/adventurer Jack London lived in Glen Ellen from 1905 until his untimely death in 1916, at age 40.  His home, "Beauty Ranch," now Jack London State Historic Park, offers lush forests, redwood groves, meadows, and hills with amazing views.

This park spills over with things to do. You can hike miles of trails, from flat/easy to steep uphill climbs that connect to the Bay Area Ridge Trail. You can view the magnificent ruins of London's 15,000-square-foot mansion, which burned to the ground a month before completion; tour the simple cottage where Jack and his wife, Charmian, lived; and learn about London's adventurous life at the small museum known as The House of Happy Walls.

You can picnic, hear a piano recital, explore London's old farm buildings, and - in summer - sit beneath the stars in the ruins of an ancient winery while taking in Transcendence Theatre's Broadway Under the Stars performances.

Indulge Yourself (You Deserve It)

Sonoma Bodyworks delivers massage services to your home or hotel room, complete with all the amenities (table, soft music, luxurious body products). The Deluxe Therapeutic Massage blends eastern and western styles, using graduating pressure to delve into deeper layers of muscle. Spa parties, for groups of six or more, involve music, massage, aromatherapy and skilled body workers (great for bachelorette parties!).

Go Horseback Riding

Triple Creek Horse Outfit - named one of the nation's "Top 10 Places to Ride a Horse" by USA Today – offers year-round guided wine-country rides at Jack London State Historic Park. You'll ride along 20+ miles of trails through soaring redwood trees and old growth oak woodlands, past ancient winery ruins and beside established vineyards.  When the ride ends, you'll receive a pass for a tour of the cottage where Jack and Charmian London once lived. Ride length ranges from 1 to 2.5 hours (private rides with a stop for lunch are available). First-time riders are welcome; kids 8 years old and up are eligible for trail rides.

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.