October 16, 2015

Hopland: Solar Living Center; things to do

101 North

Solar Living Center  13771 S. Hwy. 101, (707) 472-2450.  M-Sat 10-5, Sun 11-4.  $3/car.  Self-guided tour:  daily 10-6; free.  Guided tour:  F-Sun at 11, Apr-Oct; by donation, $5/family.  Carousel:  daily 12-4, on the hr. 

Pick up a self-guided tour brochure at the entrance to this surprising, impressive 12½-acre complex, or time your visit for a guided tour.  An especially refreshing stop on a hot day--it can soar to 110 degrees around here in summer, and the town claims 300 days of sunshine every year--this small oasis has an Agave Cooling Tower that dispenses a refreshing mist.  For kids, a play area with an optional pipe-tunnel entrance, a sandbox, and a water pump is on hand along with a seasonal solar-powered carousel designed by Bill Dentzel (a descendant of the famous carousel maker) that features salmon, skunk, and mountain lion mounts.  The Central Oasis is a sort of a mini-Yellowstone fountain of dancing geysers, and the Solar Calendar is a sort of mini-Stonehenge designed to connect visitors to the changing seasons. 

Once inside the cool Real Goods Store--double-entendre intended--you can browse the useful merchandise and check out a wall cutaway revealing the building’s unusual straw-bale construction.  On the way out, a sign urges, “Turn inspiration into action.”  Frey Vineyards operates a free tasting bar in the back.  Their wines are organic and biodynamic. 

And if you like, you can book in for the night in the site’s Tumbleweed Tiny House, a compact two-story building on wheels.  Campsites are available April through October.  

Solar Living Center in Hopland, California

children's play area at Solar Living Center in Hopland, California

solar power at work at Solar Living Center in Hopland, California

Solar Living Center in Hopland, California

table setting for sale at Solar Living Center in Hopland, California

More things to do along Highway 101.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images © 2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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