5 Fun Things To Do in Sebastopol
Quirky. Welcoming. The centerpiece of your next travel story. That's just the way Sebastopol is.
Surrounded by leafy apple orchards and the corduroy stripes of vineyards, the western Sonoma County town of Sebastopol is chock-full of surprises. The more you spend time here, the more you realize the place holds a diversity of attractions that are rare in such a small community. Indulge as you explore a fantastic dining scene starring fresh, local produce and meats. Stock up on social media content as you explore eclectic artworks. Soak up some gorgeous Sonoma County nature. Whatever you do, you're in for a self-guided wellness retreat that'll make your soul sing.
Check out some of our favorite things to do in Sebastopol.
1. Tour Florence Avenue's Trash Art
Some of the most imaginative sculpture you'll ever see highlights the landscaping on Sebastopol's three-block-long Florence Avenue. Made from recycled trash, the colorful works feature the likes of a rat at the wheel of a hot rod, a tea-sipping Mad Hatter, a joy-riding skeleton on a motorcycle, giant birds, and many more.
This magic (the work of local artists Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent) started back in 2001, when Amiot placed one of his large sculptural pieces—a fisherman fashioned from an old water heater—on his front lawn. Neighbors loved it and wanted their own. These days, nearly every Florence Avenue yard sports a sculpture by the couple as do some local businesses.
2. Explore The Barlow
The Barlow is a 12-acre outdoor market district whose architecture pays modernistic homage to the picturesque apple canneries that once resided in Sebastopol. Within the 18 buildings and four city blocks, you'll find more than 40 local artists and artisans offering everything from cheeses and wine to energizing crystals, clothing, and souvenirs.
Indulge in Grenache made from grapes grown sans chemicals at Pax's tasting room or enjoy the fruits of more than 20 Sonoma County wine producers at Region. For upscale cocktails blended with hand-crafted gin, bourbon, vodka, and whiskey—all made with locally sourced ingredients—head to Spirit Works Distillery.
You'll also be in the thick of plenty of dining options. The Barlow is home to several locally loved Sebastopol restaurants. At Fern Bar, savor organic and locally sourced dishes, such as lamb sausage with brown-butter cabbage and Calabrian chile sofrito or tofu with turmeric-and-peanut veloute and seasonal vegetables. The Farmer's Wife also boasts locally sourced and organic fare, ranging from hearty two-egg breakfasts and patty melts to vegan club sandwiches and truffle fries.
3. Get Outdoors at Laguna de Santa Rosa
Connect with nature and marvel at Sonoma County's beauty at the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa. A tributary of the Russian River, and the county's largest freshwater wetlands complex, Laguna de Santa Rosa is a beautiful mosaic of creeks, open water, perennial marshes, riparian forests, seasonal wetlands, oak woodlands, and grasslands.
The wetlands play temporary home to hundreds of migratory bird species. Keep an eye out for the seemingly berry-stained feathers of purple finches and beautifully rusty wings of cinnamon teals. Tiny hummingbirds may zip past, while leggy herons sporting crowns of feathers delicately tread through the shallows. The laguna is also home to salamanders, badgers, minks, otters, bobcats, and a large variety of fish. Explore the laguna on its nearly 20 miles of scenic trails, many of which are open to hikers, bikers, and wheelchair users.
To learn more, visit the Laguna Environmental Center and take a self-guided tour, or read "Explore the Laguna de Santa Rosa Wetlands."
4. Sample Local Flavors at Sebastopol Restaurants
If your favorite form of self-care is treating yourself to a delicious meal, you’re in the right California town. Sebastopol restaurants run the gamut from upscale farm-to-table to cozy comfort foods.
Find Sonoma County twists on Thai classics at Khom Loi, where small plates feature big flavors like lemongrass fried chicken, crispy rockfish, and green curry with sweet potato and tofu. At Piala, relish the flavors of Georgian cuisine in dumplings, slow-cooked lamb stew, and earthy mushroom dishes.
And as this is Sonoma County, you’re all but guaranteed to find an amazing wine list at most restaurants. Find more restaurants in Sebastopol.
5. Visit the West County Museum
Housed in a beautifully restored 1917 railway depot designed by architect Brainerd Jones and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the West County Museum delves into the history of western Sonoma County. Exhibits change throughout the year, exploring such topics as movies filmed in the county, collections of historic toys, or historic artifacts of the Pomo people.
The museum also administers the nearby Luther Burbank's Experiment Farm, where the famed horticulturist developed many fruits, flowers, vegetables, and grains still enjoyed today. Visit the farm and take a self-guided or docent-led tour. Three acres remain from the original 15-acre farm, which was purchased by Burbank in 1885; also remaining: the barn, caretaker's cottage, and many living specimens of Burbank's work.
6. Pursue the Gravenstein Apple
Sebastopol is famous for its apples—particularly the Gravenstein. First planted here in 1811 by Russian explorers, the super-delicious, super-versatile Grav is perfect for apple pies, applesauce, baking, cooking, or just plain munching. But its soft skin means it can't be shipped great distances. So to get a taste of this delicious fruit, a visit to Sonoma County is in order.
From late July to approximately mid-August, you can stroll area farmers' markets and see the bright red globes smiling up at you amongst all the other produce. And, throughout the summer, you'll see the apples often star on the menus of Sebastopol restaurants. (Take our advice and don't pass up a piece of fresh Gravenstein apple pie.)
You can also travel down scenic country roads to pick your Gravensteins—or one of the many other delectable varieties grown in Sonoma County—at a local orchard. Sonoma County Farm Trails lists the many farms that are open to visitors. And don't miss the Gravenstein Apple Fair, where you can sample the fruits in cookies, breads, fritters, preserves, juices, and pretty much every other form you can think of.
Learn more about Sebastopol or find places to stay while you're visiting.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.