The largest town in western Sonoma County is the diverse, dynamic, and semi-urban community of Sebastopol (pop. 7,379), located at the crossroads of state highways 12 and 116, and offering a small-town vibe blended with a global vision. Officially named a nuclear-free zone and a "slow city" (reflecting its commitment to staying green, local, friendly, and artistic), Sebastopol combines rich agricultural traditions with a whimsical, creative spirit and an abiding interest in the fine arts, healing arts, fine dining, healthy dining, wine, farming, the environment, sustainable living, and outdoor recreation.
A delightful mix of villages are scattered throughout the area. Located amid rolling hills at the southern end of the county and slightly inland from the coast, Valley Ford (pop. 147) offers a small cluster of restaurants and shops in rustic and historic buildings, in the heart of Sonoma County's dairy belt.
Slightly less than five miles north of Valley Ford and only about a half-mile long, Freestone (pop. 32) is a common stop for cyclists and car clubs cruising the western county roads, and offers artisan breads and cheeses, as well as a luxurious day spa.
And about five miles west from Freestone on the two-lane Bodega Highway (and about five miles inland from the coast), a diverse mix of shops and businesses line a short stretch of roadway in tiny Bodega (pop. 220) several landmark buildings in this hamlet were featured in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller movie, The Birds, including a church and a former school.
To the north of Freestone along the exquisitely scenic Bohemian Highway, the tiny community of Occidental (pop. 1,115) boasts a two-block-long main street, with galleries, gifts shops, diverse stores, and renowned dining establishments; the Occidental Center for the Arts provides diverse, high-quality arts and cultural events.
And tucked away just north of Sebastopol, Graton (pop. 1,707) offers a laid-back home to artists, artisans, writers, retirees, working-class families, and some of the best restaurants in the county.