I recently returned from a trip to the beautiful Sonoma Valley – besides the stunning weather, it was a parade of winery tastings and blending seminars, distillery visits, great food and shopping – and although I think of it as an adults-only destination, we made several stops that I made a mental note to return to with the family – most notably, Jack London Historical Park.
Declared a state park in the sixties in order to preserve and celebrate the literary legend, the history of Jack London and his family is encapsulated in either a short half-mile loop or a more leisurely two-hour walk that brings visitors past historic buildings and exhibits, as well as his experiments as a pioneer of sustainable farming.
With over 29 miles of trails spanning 1400 acres, it’s an easy walk through birch forests with the Sonoma mountains as a backdrop. They offer free guided walking tours, or you could do a trail ride through the diverse landscape on horseback. Check out Jack London’s actual home, where he did all his writing, and the surrounding buildings – including the experimental cactus garden that was once intended to be livestock feed, the ruins of a 19th century winery and a 2,000 year old, 14 foot in diameter redwood tree.
There are plenty of interesting things to discover – the 80 acre orchard or the lake Jack London created… there are plenty of trails to explore, so you can take as much or as little time as you like. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic, and after your visit there are plenty of wineries nearby to stop in for a sip.
I found his home – stuffed with papers and notes and books and photographs – and hearing the stories of his life and death from an expert on the history of Jack London – fascinating. It was one of the highlights of my trip – interesting and educational and beautiful and a nice walk, to boot. If you’re planning a trip this year, they’re celebrating 2016 with a full calendar of events and activities. It’s definitely worth including in your travel plans, whether you have kids with you or not!