One of my favorite areas in Northern California is the drive through Sonoma County and the Bohemian Highway. I’ve made plenty of trips through the north bay wine country such as Napa, St. Helena, Calistoga, all of wine country. It never gets old for me. Yet, in between the wine country and the coast, a great drive or even a great weekend escape, awaits.

Sonoma County and the Bohemian Highway

About 70 miles north of San Francisco, the Bohemian Highway stretches from Freestone to Monte Rio. Points of interest such as Forestville, and Guerneville, are in the vicinity. The road also leads to Korbel Champagne cellars, for those interested in tasting some bubbly. 

Beautiful Drives-Sonoma County

The entire highway is a picturesque ride through the country and I prefer to start from the south end of the highway, coming from San Francisco. Having done this drive with my friend a few times, we drove from Highway 1 and traveled through the town of Valley Ford off of Valley Ford Road. (Easy to remember). This is a great place to stop, nose around the shops, and have lunch at Dinucci’s, a family-style seafood and Italian restaurant.

From there, we drove to Bodega Bay, well-known as the location for Hitchcock’s The Birds. Bodega Bay remains a hot spot for locals and tourists alike. The stunning coastline with its pounding waves is an attraction on its own. These are the areas where people are seen simply enjoying the show the pacific puts on daily. The climate is mild all year. Bike-riding, whale watching, hiking, anything outdoors, are easily found in the area.

 From Bodega Bay, we began the Bohemian Highway route in the town of Freestone. The moment you make the turn onto the highway, park the car because that’s where the fun begins.

For starters, the Osmosis Day Sanctuary is truly a sanctuary. A Japanese-style oasis with gardens and a massage spa, it’s a perfect addition to your journey on the Bohemian Highway.

I had a massage treatment which is just what the doctor ordered. Coupled with the fresh fragrance throughout the property, you can’t help but feel rejuvenated after a visit.

To learn more about the Osmosis Day Spa and healthy and holistic traveling, check out Holistic Health Traveler.

Sticky Buns

After you’ve had a proper spa treatment, walk across the street to get the best sticky buns ever. Wild Flour Bread  is a bakery which reminds me of something you would see in Provence.   

They use a wood-fired brick oven to bake their sourdough bread and every time I go there, I stand outside and take a deep breath to inhale the incredible aroma coming out of their oven. They have a nice sitting area where you can nosh to your heart’s content and an organic garden which is open to the public. I’ve tried their scones, sticky buns(of course), and this last time, bought a kalamata olive loaf which is currently my new favorite. 

Occidental

From that point on, it was on to the charming town of Occidental. The drive makes you wonder where you’re going but you actually get there in no time. My friend knew Occidental well from family trips and I’ve become equally attached. It’s small, a population of less than 250, has very friendly merchants and great Italian food as well as French, and other restaurants to choose from.

I was told there is a bit of a food controversy between two restaurants, Negris and the Union Hotel. The debate is who serves the best food. From what I hear, people tend to pick their favorite and stick with it, insisting that their favorite is the best one. If there’s a fight about whose food is better I’d say the customers are the winners! In the few visits that I have made, I’ve only tried the Union Hotel and have come home stuffed every time but one of these days I’ll be rebellious and try the other just to compare.  That’s me….living on the edge.     

The Inn at Occidental is the gorgeous, upscale bed and breakfast in town. It has a veranda for lounging, a wine and cheese hour, fireplace, and is a perfect romantic getaway or retreat. Check out their website for rates and specials which may be running throughout the year and you will also find a great description of the farmer’s markets which run throughout the summer.   

I always enjoy the shops in Occidental and can find everything from earrings, which I always seem to buy, handmade soaps, and a really cool locally made items. The town also has a Redwood Arts Council which presents local artists and musicians who perform throughout the year. There seems to always be something happening in town so check their website to see what’s on.  

A drive or weekend trip through Sonoma County and the Bohemian Highway shouldn’t be missed. Whether you’re a local or visiting from out of the area, it’s a special area offering relaxation, beautiful views, good food, and shopping. Check it out!

street signs of the Bohemian Hwy