In a land of growing chain store homogenization, Sebastopol lets its independent flag fly. Born in part by back-to-land hippies who established sprawling communes in the rural fringe of the town in the 1970s, Sebastopol still has a counter-culture spirit and perhaps a touch too much tie-dye. But that beat-to-a-different drummer attitude means locally owned book shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and grocery stores are the rule, not the exception.
That DIY spirit also means there is an abundance of local artisans—jewelers, cheesemakers, bakers and artists. Sebastopol local Dom Chi Designs channels that same homegrown energy into art--hand painted hats and t-shirts, as well as beautifully carved knives, spoons and other kitchenware, and so much more.
"That DIY spirit also means there is an abundance of local artisans"
And you won’t go thirsty in Sebastopol. In a town known for its beer (Seismic Brewing Co., HopMonk Tavern, Crooked Goat Brewing, and Woodfour Brewing Co. and wineries (Red Car, Merry Edwards and Littori are standouts) Spirit Works is the lone spirits maker but they fit right in with the farm-to-glass ethos with gin, whiskey, and rye made from botanicals and grains sourced from California growers. It’s a difference you can taste in each sip.
Ramen Gaijin, born as a pop-up in Woodfour Brewery, has become one of Sebastopol’s must-stops for scrupulously prepared Japanese food (ramen, yes, but also great salads, sashimi, fried chicken and donburi) sourced from Sonoma County ingredients.
"[Ramen Gaijin] has become one of Sebastopol’s must-stops for scrupulously prepared Japanese food"
Handline, with its menu of coastal classics (fish tacos, local oysters, ceviche and great burgers) is Sebastopol’s other top spot, especially with its inviting outdoor patio complete with ping pong tables and kids play area.
Before the hippies came, Sebastopol was an ag town, and it still is. Small farms and dairies still ring the city but pinot noir and chardonnay vineyards now outnumber the aging apple orchards.
"Before the hippies came, Sebastopol was an ag town, and it still is."
Beyond the Gravensteins, Sebastopol’s greatest asset is its natural setting. To the east is the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Northern California’s largest wetland and home to an abundance of migratory and resident birds. To the north is the Russian River. To the west are rolling hills, sprawling vineyards, redwood groves that stretch to the ocean’s edge.