Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma County
Jack London State Historic Park

Jack London State Historic Park

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Glen Ellen was home to writer/adventurer Jack London from 1905 until his untimely death in 1916 and today the Beauty Ranch is part of Jack London State Historic Park.

It's a truly beautiful property, filled with lush forests, redwood groves, meadows, and hills that afford amazing views. An exceedingly popular destination with locals and visitors alike, the park offers a surfeit of things to do. 

For example, you can hike more than 20 miles of trails that range from easy-as-pie to you-better-be-in-real-good-shape (those latter trails reward you with pretty awesome views, though).

Old stone ruins are surrounded by California oaks
Wolf House

Or, shake your head philosophically at the vagaries of life when viewing the magnificent ruins of London's 15,000-square-foot Wolf House mansion (it burned to the ground a month before completion).

You can marvel over strange artifacts that London and his wife, Charmian, brought back from unexplored South Seas islands on their 27-month sailing adventure aboard The Snark.

An old stone wall with a doorway and Sugarloaf mountain in the distance
The winery ruins

Tour the simple cottage where Jack and Charmian lived - and where London died at age 40, of gastrointestinal uremic poisoning. Examine old farm equipment in a stone barn, or walk through the gorgeous ruins of an old stone winery

Picnic near the bathhouse where the Londons and their guests changed into bathing suits before dipping in the lake. Explore a habitation in the innovative "Pig Palace" devised by London. Listen to volunteer pianists play on Charmian's 1901 Steinway grand piano in the small museum known as The House of Happy Walls, where she lived from 1934 until she died in 1955.

People sing and dance on stage in the winery ruins
Transcendence Theatre

In warm weather, you might choose to take in an evening performance of Broadway show tunes in the old winery ruins, watching the sky darken and the stars come out while real-life stars take the stage with Transcendence Theatre. And all year long there are lectures about London, piano recitals on Charmian's Steinway, free docent-guided tours, docent-led Sunday morning hikes, and other park events.

To help you get oriented, download a park map. You can pick up picnic supplies at the nearby Glen Ellen Village Market or croissants, mini-sandwiches and other baked goods at Les Pascals bakery.

Wine tasting opportunities abound in tasting rooms and wineries in Glen Ellen and throughout the Sonoma Valley. Lodging is available in the 22-room Jack London Lodge 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.

Read 5 Fun Things To Do in Glen Ellen for more ideas.