Sebastopol is a small town with a quiet, rural past, and a kicky present. In the heart of West County Sonoma, this small town has a buzzing arts scene. Its reputation for environmental activism is strong. It doesn’t take long to notice that people get pretty worked up about preserving their way of life.
And don’t even think about rolling through town with heavy artillery. At the city line there is a sign that reads, “This is a nuclear-free zone.” We’re not sure what that sign is supposed to protect the inhabitants from, but it does give you a good sense of the place and its people. Forget politics and enjoy the town.
Sebastopol is an antique lover’s mecca. There are lots of shops in town and also just south on the way to Petaluma along route 116. (Highway 116 is called the Gravenstein Highway, named for the type of apples that filled the west county before vineyards came along.)
There aren’t many historic sites in town. It was the center for farming, and the rural residents who lived here. It is a great place to escape all that upscale wine and food, do some shopping, eat in quirky diners, have a veggie meal, or go to an all-time great music store. (If people are crowding the doorway, peek inside! There are a lot of local, well-known musicians and you might hear one of them picking and singing, drawing a crowd, when they just came in to buy a set of strings!)
Visit the restored 1917 railroad depot. There is archival material from the area including films, newspapers, books, videotapes and audiotapes about the region’s history. And, if you’re in Sebastopol during August, don’t miss the Gravenstein Apple Festival! You have never seen so many people of all ages dressed as apples!
The town is happy with itself the way it is, a rare and wonderful thing. It was founded in 1852, and still has only 8,000 residents. Sebastopol is another Sonoma County good time, and it’s worth taking the time to explore it.