Off The Beaten Track in Glen Ellen

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chocolateshop.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Glen Ellen is just far enough off the main highway to ensure that its visitors and residents really want to be there. Although only a twenty minute drive from downtown Sonoma, it feels like another world entirely, with rustic country lanes, minimal development, and fantastic owner-operated businesses making the most of the area's appeal. Here are just a few suggestions for things to do (besides visit wineries, of course!) that hit on three of Glen Ellen's main draws:
1. Artisanal Eats. Arnold Drive is the main drag through Glen Ellen, on which you'll find most businesses. The Jack London Village shops are located in an old sawmill just south of the main part of town. Figone Olive Oil, Raymond Cheesemonger, Wine Country Chocolates' production facility, and several restaurants now make their home there, as does a real estate company if you're feeling inspired. I had a blast browsing the unusual delights at the chocolate store... from zinfandel ganache to eggnog truffles, and from solid chocolate rockette legs and peanut butter-chocolate hearts to the Elvis (peanut butter-banana truffle), the joy is in the journey.  And your mouth.
massagehomepage.jpg2. Relaxation.  Just across from the Jack London Village is a tiny complex with a huge wine barrel out front--we're talking 23 feet tall.  Inside the wine barrel is Magical Massage and Inspiration Gallery, a welcoming and locally-focused spa specializing in organic facials and its own proprietary blend of massage and energywork.  Owners Carolyn Manzi and Martha Paul combine Swedish, Lomi-Lomi, polarity, and cranio-sacral techniques in a seamless and miraculous fashion.  I was lucky enough to have them invite me to experience their signature "magical massage" (which also includes local lavender oil aromatherapy) in the barrel room, and I can say without hesitation that it totally rocked my massage world.  I felt reborn.

3. History.  Sadly, the house where food-writer M.F.K. Fisher lived is privately owned and not generally accessible to the public.  Jack London's house is in ruins.  Nevertheless, you can check out photos of both authors and their Glen Ellen lives in the Jack London Village (see above), and you can visit the Jack London Museum, the ruins of Jack's house, and Jack's grave, all of which are located within Jack London State Park.  The museum has fascinating little snippets of his life on display, including a black and white video of Jack puttering around his ranch on a horse shortly before his death (from unrelated activities).  As is true of Glen Ellen more generally, it's well worth a visit.

wolfhouse.jpgJack London Village Shops
14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707.933.3055.
Wine Country Chocolates,

Magical Massage
14300 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen,

Jack London State Historic Park
2400 London Ranch Rd, Glen Ellen. 707.938.5216‎

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