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Occidental is a small town nestled in the redwoods of Sonoma County between Freestone and Monte Rio in Northern California. It is approximately 68 miles north of San Francisco, 117 miles from Sacramento and 113 miles from San Jose. As of the 2000 census, the population was 1,272. Occidental is a pretty little community with a two-block-long main street and plenty of charm. It's just minutes from the spectacular Sonoma Coast, world class wineries, the Russian River recreational area, the Armstrong Redwood Reserve and numerous picturesque coastal towns, such as Jenner-by-the-Sea. The village of Occidental began as a commercial center and the last stop on the North Pacific Coast Railroad, which connected Cazadero to the Sausalito ferry in the San Francisco Bay area. In return for donating right-of-way to the railroad, a local landowner named “Dutch Bill” Howards received a lifetime pass and a station was named after him. The railway caused rapid expansion in the area, especially in the timber industry and by 1877 there were six sawmills in the Occidental region. Soon, the trains also brought vacationers looking to escape the summer fog in San Francisco or the heat in Sacramento. A few years later, two Italian restaurants were opened in the town and they are still in business today.

The town of Occidental is made up of both old-timers and new residents. Aside from its excellent restaurants for a town of its size, Occidental is home to unique gift shops that sell everything from crystals, herbs and handmade soaps to toys and garden statues. Tennis courts are located in downtown Occidental and the area is very popular with cyclists and car clubs for its beautiful, challenging routes between the coast and redwoods. The Bohemian Highway, arguably one of the most scenic drives in the whole state of California, runs right through the town of Occidental. This ten-mile highway winds through lush, towering redwoods, past rocky ravines and peaceful farmlands. The Bohemian Highway is one of the first areas to be settled in the region and has a climate perfect for exploration, buffered from the ocean fog and extreme heat found further inland. Occidental is also home to a local Bohemian Farmers' Market every Friday and is near several award-winning wineries that are open to the public. Other nearby attractions to delight the senses include a Japanese inspired spa and a rare plant nursery that offers some of the most rare and exotic flora in the United States. Recreational activities in the area include horseback riding, hiking and biking and white water rafting on the Russian River. Remember – Occidental is small, but is quite the gem if you're looking for a relatively undiscovered, quiet getaway. To reach Occidental from San Francisco, take U.S. Highway to 101 north to Highway 12 west, through Sebastopol to Freestone. Then turn right onto the Bohemian Highway. For a more scenic route, you can take California Highway 1 north to Bodega Highway east and turn left onto the Bohemian Highway.


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